Just over two weeks ago George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a police officer who had a record of abuse against black civilians. Chauvin killed George Floyd knowing he was being taped, hearing bystanders pleas to “get off his neck.” He looked defiantly into the camera as he killed Floyd, clearly believing he would suffer no consequences because he never has. His bail was set on Monday at $1.25 million. It must have come as a shock to the man. Had the Minneapolis police union not protected Chauvin from discipline in his prior offenses there is no doubt George Floyd would be alive today.
Every politician, union leader, and police officer who enabled Chauvin to continue working, with his record of abuse, is responsible for George Floyd’s murder, and for everything that comes as a result. Peaceful protests have been met with violence perpetrated by armed bullies who I can only imagine have been trying to teach protesters the lesson that police have all the power and protesters should stay home. The effect of their behavior has been the opposite.
Protesters are taxpayers; their families are taxpayers. Police salaries are paid with tax dollars. That makes police officers employees of taxpayers. We have seen countless videos of these employees attacking their bosses. I wonder what is going through the minds of police officers now, these public servants who for the last two weeks thought attacking protesters was a good idea. Can you think of any job where it’s acceptable to physically attack your employer? They thought they were exempt from any expectation of decency, and any ramifications for their violence.
I admit I was surprised to read the Minneapolis City Counsel’s announcement that they will dismantle their police department and that no one, not the Mayor or anyone else, can veto their majority decision. It is what should happen, but it was a surprise nonetheless. Whether or not reform actually takes place remains to be seen.
These past two weeks have shown the world the ugliness of the Minneapolis police department, and although the abuse didn’t start with George Floyd’s murder, it resulted in a full display of the evil encompassed in police departments across the United States. Attacks on peaceful protesters, and journalists from around the world who are supposed to be protected under the constitution and under international law, was nothing if not stunning.
It was a contemptible show of solidarity when police in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, South Carolina, etc acted with equal violence. The images are endless, of police cars jutting forward into crowds, police driving past protesters while spraying clouds of mace, beating peaceful protesters, who do not fight back, with batons, shooting steel filled rubber bullets, blinding people.
Curfews put in place to stem violence and looting that escalated after sunset were used by police as an excuse to abuse more demonstrators. Police started arrests 30 minutes before curfew times were set to go into effect. In Atlanta, officers slashed protester’s tires so they couldn’t leave, allowing them to arrest more people. Cars belonging to the press were also targeted, their tires slashed by police. These acts were caught on video. Chicago shut down their City Transit Authority and raised bridges to trap protesters into violating curfew. South Carolina cornered protesters giving them no viable way to honor the curfew and so they were all arrested. In all over 10,000 arrests of protesters have taken place in two weeks, eleven protesters have been murdered.
Few laws apply to the police.
Cars belonging to protesters were marked with paint that is only visible with black light. This was done to allow police to identify protesters later for targeted harassment.
A union that protects murderers is not a legitimate organization. A union that resorts to intimidation and bullying should not be protected by labor laws. A police union president in New York who doxed Mayor DeBlasio’s daughter, published her personal information including her address and driver’s license number on the internet after she was arrested at a protest should be removed from his position. Acts of retaliation can not be ignored. The police have, for the most part, become an organized crime family. They do not live by the laws they are supposed to enforce. If their job was to beat, rape, and murder they’d be doing a great job.
Serving and defending is what police unions do for their members, by any possible means, but it’s not what police do for their communities.
How many white people knew the extent of police brutality and the coverups before these protests that stemmed from the murder of George Floyd?
I wasn’t naive. I remember the anger I felt last year reading about a young woman who was separated from her two male friends during a marijuana bust and raped by two Brooklyn police officers. Public outrage led to a new rule for the NYPD: no sex while on duty. That is not an attempt at humor, that is how vile the police in America are. These are the people who we call for help.
The behavior by police at demonstrations enabled and empowered white supremacists to disrupt protests with violence and looting, expecting protesters to be blamed. At least 17 incidents of drivers accelerating into protesters were reported after news stations showed the NYPD’s similar actions. Few of those drivers were arrested.
The behavior caught on tape since the murder of George Floyd has opened the eyes of many who knew there was abuse but had no idea it was so rampant. How do they behave when they know they aren’t being taped?
The First Amendment provides us with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government.
Police efforts to stop protests led to shouts of “defund police.” Those calls to dismantle the toxic system that has targeted black people for hundreds of years have finally been heard.
We as a country need to follow the lead of Minneapolis City Council Members and see that they follow through with what they have vowed to do, dismantle the police. Then we have to do the same.
Police funds are typically one-third of a city’s budget. We can’t afford to pay for school lunches, and we can’t afford healthcare, but we give this toxic institution one-third of our budget.
What exactly will defunding the policy entail? Will we be able to turn right on red at will… without using a turn signal? No.
The Minneapolis City Council’s promise to dismantle their police department will start slowly, with a meeting of community members working in cooperation to create a police force that is really made up of members of the community, and better trained to de-escalate situations. There will be accountability. National registries will be implemented for abusive cops so they can’t find another police job in another city. Hopefully, police officers with good records will have a place in a restructured agency, and the bad ones will be identified and removed.
Police budgets will be drastically reduced. Money taken from police will theoretically be put toward education and after school programs, opening more homeless shelters, mental health crisis intervention. The smaller police force will not be called to deal with a mental health crisis. They never should have been. Resolving family and school disputes should never have been a job of law enforcement either.
When bad cops join the ranks of the unemployed, there will be an increased demand for social workers. I hope the government will pay generously enough to attract quality applicants.
”Defund the police” doesn’t mean a lawless society, despite what fear mongers on FOX news say. It means re-evaluating the allocation of resources. It means community policing.
We are living in a country without leadership, and while we have the support of the free world, we have a long road to peace that we have to cross together.