As many of America’s largest cities smolder in the wake of rioting, looting and burning, the horrible death that George Floyd suffered at the knee of a police officer in Minneapolis becomes over- shadowed by the property de- struction and criminal acts that have followed.
The killing of Mr. Floyd, which occurred last week as he was handcuffed and facedown next to a sidewalk, defies any reasonable or logical explanation. It has played out count- less times on television news and cable stations, the video image of an officer – since fired along with three others and charged with third degree murder – pressing his knee into the subject’s neck as the man repeatedly begged for air.
It went on for 8 or 9 min- utes, the victim struggling to breathe and the policeman keeping his knee firmly planted on the man’s neck. Reports state that the ‘officer’ did not remove his knees for some two minutes after Mr. Floyd stopped breathing. Almost as criminal as the act that killed the man is the fact that other law enforcement officers watched it happen but made no no attempt to intervene.
I don’t have psychological assessment skills that would provide a plausible explanation for what transpired. Maybe that is best. What was going through the mind of now former officer Derek Chauvin as he knelt on the man’s neck?
I don’t know. If I were capable of understanding the brutality of this event, it might suggest a darker side of my own psyche.
As I cannot understand the reasoning or lack of it that led to the death of Mr. Floyd, I’m also incapable of comprehending the lawlessness that has taken root in cities across the country. The victim’s name and the importance of his life is not elevated by criminal acts such as burning public and private property, looting stores, and attacking police officers and civilians. And those who try to spin rioting as something justifiable in the aftermath of one criminal act are no less culpable than Derek Chauvin.
The people who inspire acts of civil unrest, and those who participate in them, are not only disrespecting law and order they also tarnish the memory of someone they might claim as the inspiration for their behavior.
We must accept that anger is not justification for destroying something that others have built, and plunder is not the solace or grief. And stealing a flat screen television doesn’t make anything right; it only illustrates that criminals will seize upon chaos to commit an act they otherwise would have committed under the cover of darkness.
Police departments across America must do a better job in trying to identify those men and women who might abuse the rights of individuals, regardless of color, and remove them from their ranks. Someone with the mindset of Derek Chauvin should not be wearing the uniform.
I appreciate and respect those who join in peaceful protest to remember the victim and grieve his death.
Mickey Peace, Publisher – mpeace @claxtonenterprise.com