Like a majority of Americans, I breathed a small sigh of relief with the conviction of Darek Chauvin. It was an extraordinary verdict, for a variety of reasons. But, may in fact create more questions than answers.
The rarity of an officer being charged with the death of someone victimized by the use of extreme measures, is so rare, with the strength of laws “protecting officers” and by lobbying and pressure by police unions, that this could be called a “one in a million” event. And when looking at the statistics over the past decade, that number may be closer to reality than one would imagine.
Justice was served. But, the real question may come down to how far police tactics have devolved, changing the ways officers respond, and perhaps changing the very nature of what police are called to do.
There is no question that Chauvin murdered George Floyd, brutally, and with malicious intent. But, looking at the statistics over the past few years, how many other officers have done so, with absolutely no ramifications or fear of being charged for their actions?
Being a police officer is one of the most difficult jobs in America. But, does that give them the right to use deadly force with impunity?
The Floyd/Chauvin case was easy. It was recorded. It was blatant. It was marked by Chauvin’s slow, deliberate, decision to take a man’s life, in front of countless witnesses as well as fellow officers. It was a public execution by almost any standard.
But, every year, it is estimated that as many as 1,800 citizens are killed by the police. The number could actually be higher, as full reporting was discontinued in 2014, and since then, only major cities and large police forces are required to report. That statistic only covers those shot and killed by police, and does not begin to address those who are injured, some with lifelong injuries, by over-zealous police actions. Scars, both physical and mental are carried for life, often with no way to find restitution for a “bad cop’s” actions.
The statistics show that while the number of arrests, and strong-arm tactics employed are directed at minorities, the number of whites killed by gunfire are proportionate to the population. (see full info HERE)
Would we have known about this “standard stop gone bad” had Floyd not actually died? It is not only unlikely, but inconceivable, as choke holds, and other sorts of extreme physical tactics are legal, and taught almost universally by police forces nationwide.
This is the real question that we are faced with in the “post-Floyd” era. Because, since the incident happened, almost a year ago on May 25th, there have been more than 600 police shootings that resulted in the deaths of citizens. How many have been injured, “roughed up,” had their heads smashed to the ground by a knee, or been otherwise assaulted during “standard Police stops?”
Body cams have been a poor solution, as many smaller departments don’t use them. Even with larger departments, many of the most grievous situations have not been recorded, because the officers simply didn’t turn on their cameras, or turned them off at a critical part of the scenario.
Circling back to the conviction yesterday, it is clear that almost nobody really expected the verdict to happen the way it did. Decisive. Quick. Specific. Damning.
But that didn’t stop FOX “NEWS” from spending the entire day calling for a retrial, and stating that the verdict was influenced by pressure from Maxine Waters, Biden, and countless headlines promising violence if he walked free.
Their “reporting” was unconscionable. But sadly predictable from the “Whitest News Channel on Cable.” Oh. Wait. I guess I didn’t even think to dial into the “alter-news” idiots at One America News, or the Pillow Guy’s new “Frank Channel.” I didn’t have to. I knew where they would land, if Fox was already in full-blown denial.
Unfortunately, Americans are so conditioned to believe that bad cops go free, that cities around the nation were boarded up in preparation of riots that they knew would come, if the “status quo” on verdicts over police brutality turned out as they have countless times in the past.
The outcome was tainted with the fact that it happened to a man of color. It made the tinderbox of passion more volatile.
But, ask yourself this question. How would you feel if the victim in this case was a white supremacist, with a swastika tattooed on his forehead, or a bedecked MAGA supporter, with a “QAnon” tee-shirt under his assault gear?
Race matters. Because the way George Floyd was murdered wouldn’t have happened to either of the two types mentioned above. The fact that heavily-armed, militia types are allowed to “protest” by overtaking state and federal buildings, with little or no resistance from police, should be a huge question as to the inequities in police policy.
We are at a crossroads in America. Our police are targeting and injuring citizens with tactics that are taught in paramilitary training, with almost no equal training in de-escalation or mental health management.
Who is going to stand up for the countless citizens injured or killed every year by police with little or poor training on how to keep citizens safe, especially during “routine calls,” that escalate out of fear of brutality, by the very people who are supposed to “Protect and Serve?”
This verdict is the right outcome. But, it is a thimble-sized Band-Aid, on the gaping wounds of police brutality and fear tactics.
Is it going to be the first chapter for real reform? Or is it going to be a footnote anomaly in a huge book of “more of the same old ways.”