1. George Floyd was not an admirable man. That shouldn’t and doesn’t matter, of course. What happened to him at the hands of four police officers shouldn’t happen to a dog. However, cognitive dissonance makes it difficult for emotion and anger-soaked people to accept that their martyrs are imperfect, so we are always forced to endure this process. In fact, the argument against police brutality would be cleaer and more persuasive if it were based on the fact that even the worst criminals should never be abused. Instead, the message conveyed is that what happened to Floyd is especially wrong because he was the salt of the earth. It wasn’t, and he wasn’t.
2. The officer was not trying to kill Floyd. He knew he was being recorded; he had to know that if Floyd died, he would be in terrible trouble.
3. Minnesota has already botched the prosecution. The first inept act was the governor and others widely publicizing the claim that Chauvin “murdered” Floyd. This will make a fair trial difficult, and if he is convicted, will automatically support an appeal. Then the radical, race-obsessed Attorney General, Keith Ellison, made it easier for Chauvin’s defense lawyers by over-charging, and worse, set out a precedent that may make policing impossible. Former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy explains:
The second-degree murder charge is now the main charge against all four officers. Essentially, the theory is that they committed a felony assault when they subdued a suspect who was resisting arrest. During the course of carrying out that “crime,” prosecutors allege, Floyd’s death resulted.
While the point may be subtle, this is saliently different from the theory of third-degree murder — i.e., depraved-indifference murder. In the latter, prosecutors would concede that it was lawful in principle for the police to subdue Floyd, but argue (correctly) that their manner of doing so was recklessly indifferent to human life, causing his death. By contrast, the new “felony murder” count, spearheaded by Keith Ellison, the radical leftist state attorney general, puts police on notice that they can be charged with a crime — felony assault — for doing their job, which routinely involves physically restraining suspects who resist lawful commands.
Any experienced law-enforcement officer will tell you that it is common for suspects to resist arrest by lying on the ground, claiming to be ill, waving arms to avoid being cuffed, and refusing to be placed in a squad car. Cops, of course, may not use excessive force when that happens. They must, however, be permitted to use sufficiently superior force to detain and transport uncooperative arrestees. In Minnesota, thanks to its election of the new breed of progressive prosecutor who rails against the justice system’s purported institutional racism, police officers who use force in arresting dangerous criminals now run the risk that they will be the ones who face criminal charges.
4. If, due to Ellison’s unethical zeal, the officers are acquitted, there will be more riots, because the vast majority of the public doesn’t understand the justice system, and the vast majority of the protesters don’t care about due process and the presumption of innocence.
5. The attacks by the Left on police could (and should) lead to the elimination of police unions, which, in turn, could and should lead to the abolishment of public employee unions generally. That’s a conservative agenda item, because public unions have been a mainstay of big city Democratic support.
6. There is no conceivable “significant police reform” that will not make it easier for criminals to harm the community while making police reluctant to do their jobs.
7. The effort to reduce police power and protection of law abiding citizens will crush the anti-gun movement.
8. If police departments are defunded, wealthy communities will hire private police, while less affluent communities will be at greater risk.
9. No reform, no laws, no amount of training, will ever prevent individual examples of police misconduct like what resulted in George Floyd’s death. Activists claiming otherwise are either lying or ignorant. The nature of police work puts officers under incredible stress, and eventually some will crack. Moreover, as study of the American West teaches (one more reason to know your Westerns!) , similar types of individuals are drawn to crime and law enforcement. Police officers are not like typical citizens, and they become less like them the longer they deal with criminals. If every example of a black citizen dying as a result of police incompetence, over-reaction, bad judgment or emotion is going to trigger riots, we might as well eliminate police departments. No profession or institution can function with the requirement that it can never screw up.
10. The single factor that would most reduce police-involved deaths would be for African-Americans to stop resisting arrest. This would require African-American parents, role-models and community leaders to end the practice instilling the fear of police into young blacks. Unfortunately, nurturing that fear benefits too many politicians, activists, and organizations.
37 thoughts on “Ten Inconvenient Truths Of The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck”
Sadly, these leftest efforts will results in more black deaths as police become neutered and criminals become emboldened.
But of course no one cares if the murderer is black. Only if he is white.
5. I’ve wondered about “defunding” police departments that have binding collective bargaining agreements with police unions. Is that doable? The employer can just fire all the members en masse? Presto chango?
9. When I was in grade school, “hoods” (and this was in a Catholic grade school so the kids were all middle class and from mostly stable families), wore “motorcycle jackets” a la Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.” Even at that tender age I noticed the “hoods” either became real bad guys or cops. Cops and criminals come so often from the same pool but they split for some reason and go into their respective camps as they age into adult hood. Nice to see this recognized. I guess criminals and cops both like to kick ass and impose their will on others. An interesting phenomenon. This is also why cops are not inclined to social work. Give em a hammer and every perp looks like a nail. I’m over simplifying this, but not completely.
Re #5: Camden NJ fired its whole PD, then hired them back without a union.
Hah! Doing the thing Republicans say they want to do which might actually work while at the same time calling it by the same name attributed to their insane idea. It would be a surprising new pattern, if that’s what’s going on…
It might just work! They could win Republican votes by just being Republicans! Their own voters just do whatever they’re told regardless, even to the point of dissolving police departments. Total political domination.
Camden has a police department?
But seriously, isn’t that union busting? The NLRB is down with that tactic? And is it germane? I doubt “defunding” anticipates rehiring of officers.
Hilarious. The Leftists are calling for, in essence, the very things they accuse the right of all the time.
I’m gonna buy some popcorn. And 7.62×39. Just not from the same place. 🙂
And had no riots recently (they had a barbecue with the police and the community). AND. They have a 60% clearance rate on murder cases, because the community and the police have developed trust. And I think measures of violence are down as well. Police unions are a big impediment to dismissing the few officers who react too forcefully. Often in these Black Lives Matter cases, the officer involved has a long list of prior complaints. And if we look at some of the videos from the demonstrations, we often see a long line of calm, controlled officers, and ONE person swinging a baton.
They were initially nonunion but have since unionized, I think it is illegal in NJ to completely disallow unionization. I myself belong to a public sector union, which I really didn’t want to, but the fact is that both the municipal attorneys and the county prosecutors were put in a difficult spot about 2 decades ago, when the powers that be decided they were going to unilaterally strip them of their health insurance.
I believe this was one of the enduring themes from Anthony Burgess’s “A Clockwork Orange”.
I assume you-pural have seen this? This is an extraordinary display.
I watched the video of mayor Frey getting roasted. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. So I watched it 20 more times.
What? Facebook, let me post this without doing it as a reply? Maybe since it didn’t do a preview?
Thank you Jack,
Managing to have discussions with some folks that are more than meme wars, thanks for the essays.
1 – 4 are irrelevant to today’s left.
5 – would be nice but doubtful as once unions are entrenched, removing them is nearly impossible.
6 – 8 if they thought “white flight” was bad in the ’70s, they ain’t seen nothing yet. Larger cities are either going to have to wake up and take back administration from the left or each will become copies of Detroit and Baltimore. The reactions by many to prevent violent protests by showing armed deterrence will only continue to grow. If inner city crime attempts to move into the well armed burbs and rural areas, I do not think it will end well for the gang bangers.
9 – just like all manner of gun control laws won’t stop crazy nut jobs from shooting up theaters or school if they really set their demented minds to it.
10 – act like a thug, get treated like a thug. Never could figure out why that’s so hard to understand.
I have no doubt that just about anything remotely close to this type of situation would have sparked what we’re seeing now. Weeks of enforced lock down and a lot of pent up frustration on all sides of the issue coupled with President Trump up for reelection in a few months guaranties a blow up of the left this summer. The left and others are looking for any reason and any method to create chaos during the election season.
My worry is what’s next? It’s going to be hard for the left to quiet down from the last couple of weeks.
Isn’t it odd that we went from impeachment (which nothing should’ve distracted us from) to COVID-19 hysteria to civil unrest with no gap in between and plenty of overlap?
It’s almost as if we’re following a script…
It’s the perpetual crisis riff on Marx’s perpetual revolution. There was an earlier version early in the Obama administration with ‘if we don’t pass this trillion dollar stimulus people will die, if we don’t pass Obamacare people will die…’
On 6-8, what makes super wealthy society super wealthy is the communal sharing of security apparatuses and the communal agreement on systems of justice.
Little tribal and family-centric societies never truly build lasting wealth or peace because they waste so much internal energy on security and make-up-justice-as-you go actions to right wrongs.
Go ahead, do what the Left wants. Watch communities across the united states tribalize and engage in retributive justice and feuds the likes of which would make 1990s gang violence look like peace talks because there are no lawfully constituted means of exacting justice.
Go ahead. The Left wants the system to burn to replace it with a fully centralized political police.
Policing is often a dangerous job and not all police unions support leftist politicians. In LA for example we have a clueless mayor who wants to defund the police department so he can get more black votes in the upcoming election. In addition the “peaceful protesters” went into wealthy neighborhoods like Santa Monica and Beverly Hills because the more valuable loot was there.
If the police in Minneapolis are defunded, it would more or less render the legal problem of future police use of force moot, and give criminals free rein within certain limits. Meaning, of course, those who have sufficient means to live in gated and professionally-guarded communities — and who decided not to simply decamp for elsewhere — could go on with their lives, while everyone else would be condemned to living in another failed city. Unfortunately, if a jury does what the law might demand in this case given the current charges, and acquit the police defendants for lack of evidence to convict, the situation will only collapse into further chaos. (Anyone read Oryx & Crake? I happened to read it years ago while visiting friends in a very large gated community in the South, and it came far far too close to home.)
Fortunately — and excuse the schadenfreude — Minneapolis is off the main path should one need to travel across the country.
Finally, the last “Inconvenient Truth” makes a nice idealistic point, but doesn’t unfortunately reflect reality for most of my black male friends, most of whom live in major cities, but who also encounter similar typecasting elsewhere from police, and others, of all races. The phrase, “_____ing while black” isn’t a joke for the ones I’ve known for many years. And truly, until I moved to a major city in the 80s and found myself accosted “for being white”, and later mugged (with no cash…), I was quite agnostic about race. After that I found myself quickly profiling certain people when in certain situations simply for reasons of personal safety.
I am not sure about #6. People generally don’t have a problem with the concept of police. People don’t have a problem with the idea that police get investigated if there is a complaint. The problem is the trust that the investigations will be handled fairly and properly. This is the main issue. So, how do we change the system so people have more trust in the oversight? Well, there is this. This would act as a protector of good policing as well as a check on bad policing. It should not necessarily make it easier for criminals to do their job and it may embolden good police officers to stand against bad policing.
Citizen Review Board
There has recently been nationwide outcries for reforms in law enforcement. Much of this is centered on officer-misconduct that sections of the public feel are not being adequately addressed by cities and police forces. What type of reform would be trusted by the people to address these issues? Democratic institutions have also been losing trust with the country and an elected body is likely to be viewed with as much suspicion as the elected officials we currently have. We already have elected officials overseeing the police, so how would this help? So, what could be done that would be trusted by the widest range of people?
The last democratic remnant left in the criminal justice system is the jury. The public agrees (generally) that randomly-selected citizens return an unbiased-enough opinion for judgment that even death penalty cases are determined by this group. Why not use a similar group to oversee police disciplinary matters?
This proposal is for cities to form Citizen Review Boards to evaluate police officer discipline and review officer incident reports. These boards would be made of local citizens chosen from the voter rolls by a process similar to that used to form juries.
The review board should have an odd-number of members to prevent deadlocks. It should not be so large that discussion and debate is stifled, but not so small that one outlier member (a militant anarchist, for example) could render the entire body ineffective. Seven to nine members would probably be the sweet spot. These members would be selected from the voter rolls of people aged 30- 60. These are weighty and sensitive matters and life experience is valuable. The terms should be short and members should not be allowed to ever serve again (even if randomly selected). For example, a nine-member boards could have two sets of 2-year terms (4 selected each year) with one seat selected each year (showing that life isn’t fair). Further restrictions on members (no family members of officers of city officials, etc) may be imposed. By randomly selecting a large enough group of people, the board should roughly represent the attitudes of the public.
The Citizen Review Board should serve a few distinct functions. First, the Board should review all investigations of citizen complaints of officers and internal reviews (after a shooting, for example). Second, the Board should be able to review officer discipline and act as a court of appeal for police officer’s disciplinary actions. Third, the Board may review police department policies and policy changes.
Reviews of Officer Conduct
Each month, the Board should review all investigations of citizen complaints and internal reviews. If the Board would like to investigate an incident, this could be initiated by a simple majority vote of the Board. This investigation could range from asking for clarification on a point to a full investigation involving witnesses and testimony. All city employees should be compelled to testify under oath to the Board if the board requests it (by majority vote). If the Board disagrees with the actions of the department, a negotiation between the board and the department over the disagreement
should follow. If the Board and the department cannot agree, the Board will write up a dissenting opinion about the incident with a Board recommendation and that report will become public record. If the disagreement is over charging officers or city personnel with a crime, the Board should be able to send a recommendation for prosecution to the city DA. At this point, the Boards report should become public record. The Board will need access and advice of city attorneys for these latter functions.
Officer Discipline Appeals
Officer misconduct may occur or go unreported if officers don’t feel that they are protected in reporting bad conduct. Likewise officers may feel pressured to do things against their better judgment by policies or orders if they have no other option. Officers who have been disciplined should be allowed to appeal to the Board if they feel their punishment was unjust or disproportionate. The Board should have the power to lessen or vacate a punishment they feel is unjust with a simple majority vote. It is important that the Board not become an anti-police instrument. By acting as a shield to good policing as well as a check on bad policing, the Board can retain support of the public and the police force as a whole.
This may or may not be part of the Boards functions. It is fraught with the danger that the Board could become bogged down with continual political infighting over policy minutia. If the Board is to take such a function, it should occur at one meeting/year only.
Because of the potentially explosive and personnel matters involved with this Board, privacy protections should be rather strict. Board votes should be done by electronic clicker or some other anonymized method. There should be no way of knowing and no record of how any board member votes. Revealing the deliberations of the Board should be an illegal act with substantial penalties. In some small communities, such a Board may be contentious enough that a city may want to fill its Board with members of a nearby city instead.
Review Board Members
As mentioned above, Board members should be randomly selected. They should not have any conflicts of interest in general, and should recuse themselves from any case where they may have a conflict of interest. They may be compensated, but that compensation should be minimal (like jury duty). At the conclusion of their term, Board members should be given some reward for their service (exemption from jury duty for 10 years?).
Of course, this proposal will do nothing to help this current crisis. That is because this current crisis is not about policing, but another attempt to oust Trump, like the Coronavirus response. Not convinced, in the last 3 years, what hasn’t been about trying to oust Trump?
I’m VERY certain about 6. Citizens aren’t police, and if non-police are going to do the reviewing, police will be reluctant to police. I can tell you how lawyers would regard non-lawyer review boards, and what that would do the quality of legal representation.
How is this different than the concept of civilian control of the military?
Why not start to finish video footage of any police/civilian involvement. My wife recently delivered groceries to some friends our church supports. There used to be gun fire every weekend at the intersection where they lived. Immediately after the police installed a camera, zero gun fire. None, since the camera. Why not invest in a robust video monitoring system/protocol for accountability on both sides? Why trust the police testimony over the arrested who is supposed to be innocent until proven guilty?
You really are willing to give the government 24-7 surveillance rights over everything you do, Like in the UK? Americans even object to red light cameras.
As an ex-prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer, I can say with confidence that police do lie, but those arrested are factually guilty about 99% of the time.
Let’s take this apart:
1. As you pointed out, this is mostly irrelevant. People who are already really angry are not interested in hearing that George Floyd was a bad guy, they will think it is blaming the victim. The rioters didn’t care that Rodney King was a convicted felon who led the police on a high-speed chase late at night, seeing him being beaten by four white police officers was enough. The black community didn’t care that Trayvon Martin was attempting the beat George Zimmerman to death when he was shot dead. the rioters did not care that Michael Brown was fighting with a police officer and trying to take his gun. A white police officer killed a black man, that was all they cared about. the black community does not want white people in authority using force on any of their own. That’s the long and the short of it.
2. That doesn’t matter, the fact is he used an excessive degree of force and a black man was killed as a result. The black community will not stand for white authority figures bullying any of its own.
3. This officer was doomed the moment Floyd died. Nothing less than him locked up for life will satisfy the black community. Everyone in the state knows it, all the prosecutors know it, all the judges know it.
4. I am sure the left and the black community are counting on that, and the closer to the election the better.
5. Never happen. The left wants the unions to stay in place for that very reason. They are willing to put up with the police unions for that reason.
6. The black community and the left are counting on it.
7. The left is also counting on some crazy gun incidents when either a white business owner kills a black robber or another Dylan Roof type cuts loose, so they can push the pendulum back.
8. the left isn’t too worried about that, they can partner with the rich.
9. That’s why they are pushing police abolition now.
10. Not going to happen. The black community wants to be left alone. They don’t want the police to come through, they don’t want white politicians telling them what to do, and they definitely don’t want to be arrested or otherwise deal with the system. however, they are seeing at this point that they can quite possibly dominate the system by using both destruction and guilt, so expect to see a lot more of that going forward.
I think the majority of America or a majority of America is crippled by the guilt they feel at this point and I think that is why Biden’s lead is growing more and more. I think there is a very good chance that Biden is going to win at this point, since almost no one has come out to support the president at this point. Even his strongest supporters like Lindsey Graham have gone AWOL, while those who are lukewarm but still in the same party, like Marco Rubio, have come out almost against him. If that happens, I think there’s a good chance that Keith Ellison might become the United States attorney general. I also think that white Americans are going to be in a lot of trouble at that point, because the full weight of the federal government will be turned to making sure they step back and don’t abuse their privilege.
Biden’s lead isn’t growing. That’s cherry-picked polls, making the “approval equals votes” fallacy. People approve of Joe as long as he’s in the basement.
A question about Joe: He’s 78, so he’s at risk for infection from the virus. But Nancy Pelosi is 80 and she’s all over the place. What underlying condition or conditions does anyone suppose Joe suffers from that he’s hiding out as if he’s terrified of the virus? Is his health really fragile? Is dementia an underlying condition for the flu? Is Joe really demented and simply a Trojan horse who’ll step aside as soon as he’s inaugurated?
2. It will matter a lot in the trial.
3. I’ll bet anything you like that he will NOT end up “locked up for life.”
4. You mean the 2028 election? Because this trial won’t have even started by November.
5. How do you keep police unions with no police? That will be quite a trick. The police unions will oppose the proposed reforms, whatever they are. The Left will have to make a choice.
6. If anti-police policies harm black communities, then the policies will lose the support of blacks.
7. Pendulums don’t work that way. They can only be at one side at a time.
9. I don’t see the theory.
10. Biden has no “lead.” Polls are meaningless until he gets out of the basement and the economy bounces back. The Democrats are whistling in the dark, which is why they are going nuts.
#1 – I don’t know who to believe in this regard. I’m not sure where to go to get factual information. One side wants him to be a saint. The other extreme (and note I said extreme) wants to excuse Chavin and wouldn’t be above fabricating a story to fit their narrative.
#2 – I’m not convinced of your position. He either meant to kill him or he meant to make him suffer short of dying – which is a crime and makes it felony murder. He has a smug I don’t give a damn look, he thought he could get away with it. How else do you explain staying on Flyod’s neck for MINUTES after Flyod stops moving and even after one of the other officers says they can’t find a pulse?
#3 and #4 – Traditionally, you couldn’t get a jury to convict an officer, officers got special due process that involves getting away with far more often than anyone else. They get a massive benefit of doubt. I question if we’ve now swung the other way?
When it comes to a jury, I see a couple of problems for the officer. One will be the multitude of angles the video is shot from. It will be hard to watch the many angles repeated over and over again and dissected as is inevitable. I also ponder that with the violence and irrational behavior, defense lawyers and defense experts are at risk too. The other factor is the jury knows that to acquit is to start another round of riots. That will be on the mind of jurors. The defense lawyers have an ironic choice: A judge may weigh only the merits so the safest to avoid a 2nd degree murder conviction is a bench trail. But then again, manslaughter is guaranteed in a bench trial.
1. Sure you do: Floyd’s criminal past and activities at the time he was arrested are not in dispute. He was obviously not a saint, or even a good citizen. Anyone who says he deserved what happened to him , however, is certifiable.
2. If he meant to kill him then he has an insanity defense. That’s impossible. He couldn’t claim self-defense. Nobody informed is accusing him of first degree murder. He fucked up. Of course, facial expressions are not evidence.
3-4. They haven’t swung the other way; episodes like this one have sent cops to jail, and this one will, if the prosecution doesn’t blow it.
I haven’t heard this played widely: Officer Lane had been a patrol officer for 3 days, and was assigned to Chauvin as a cadet trainee. Officer Kueng had been a patrol officer for 4 days, assigned to Thao as a cadet trainee.
Lane is the one who questioned Chauvin with the “Shouldn’t we roll him over?” That alone is pretty strong for a 3 day trainee.
#1 – I’m amenable to the argument that a person is more than the sum of their past misdeeds, that even criminals deserve to be seen as human beings, that everybody deserves the chance to earn back the trust and respect of the community. But that being said:
1. That does not mean we pretend those past misdeeds never happened; and
2. If someone like George Floyd can be remembered as a good man, perhaps that should be kept in mind the next time a Twitter mob wants to destroy someone because they wore black makeup on Halloween 20 years ago.
10. At what point during the nearly nine minutes that the officers were restraining and kneeling on Floyd’s neck was he still “resisting”? Is there some time limit imposed for this? Was he supposed to last the full ten minutes? He’s cuffed and lying on the street with FOUR adult human males holding him down. How long could he have been considered to be “resisting”?
who will speak up for officers accused of misconduct?
How about simply holding police to at least the same standard as the rest of us?
In 1996, Pedro Navarro-Oregon was shot and killed by Houston police officers who searched his home, WITHOUT A WARRANT, to look for illegal drugs.
If you or I back in 1996 killed someone while breaking into a home in Houston to look for illegal drugs, we would have been executed already!
What about applying the Park doctrine to the leaders of law enforcement.
Until the next time some gangbangers gun down a bunch of kids in a drive-by shooting in front of a school.
This has happened before. Around 2016, Colin Kapernick was calling attention to police brutality by refusing to stand for the national anthem.
The media elite supported his message, calling the cops racists who habitually gun down unarmed black men, how black people were afraid of being gunned down by a cop.
The some low-life gangbanger gunned down a bunch of kids in a school in Florida. Suddenly, these same people were calling for more gun control laws and gun control now, not even mentioning that these laws will be enforced by the same people whom they defamed as racist murderers.
I fear that this meme will soon become true.
It’s already true. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had people claim that “the only thing an AR-15 is good for is killing the maximum number of people in the minimum amount of time” and “only the police should have them” within the same conversation, sometimes nearly back-to-back.
Here is a retort I have been using these past few years, whenever someone mentions that assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, or a news articles mentions that law enforcement is exempt fromm a ban on assault weapons or high-0capacity magazines.
“Why is law enforcement exempt?
Because they gun down unarmed black men?
If so, the Crips should be exempt too.”