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George Floyd's Death Is Derek Chauvin's Crime, Not America's

The unrest spread across the country and even the world with great mass and sometimes terrifying ferocity. Here’s protestors throwing things as far away as Downing Street in London:

https://twitter.com/andrewdoyle_com/status/1268344644200476673

A street cone can be seen sent flying over the fence in a show of contempt.

Here is a tense confrontation between scores of police and protesters in Seattle:

https://twitter.com/JackPosobiec/status/1269604168597151746

That’s some extreme LARPing.

In Minneapolis, looters ransacked a Target near a Justice for George Floyd protest. 

Here’s a viral video with nearly 10 million views on this Twitter upload at the time of writing. Someone gives a thumbs up to demonstrators marching down the street out their window. They get two of their windows shattered.

https://twitter.com/AmiHorowitz/status/1267908030206816259

They look high up, at least on the third floor, and they’re pretty far back from the street across a courtyard. So those are some good throws. Elon Musk might have been onto something with the shatter proof glass on the Tesla cybertruck. Hope Tesla’s got that worked out.

Black Lives Matter

The argument of the protesters is all this is just stuff and can be replaced.

A human life cannot. And America doesn’t act like black lives matter. So whatever outrage people may have at the looting, fire setting, and window breaking-- actually validates the justifiably greater outrage that people have at a police officer killing someone in the street.

That’s an understandable argument.

How could anyone value all the stuff in a Target more than one human life? 

If an injustice is horrible enough, and the people responsible to do something about it aren’t taking it seriously enough, then more drastic measures begin to seem appropriate.

It doesn’t seem right at all that a police officer could do something like that to anybody and only get fired, not face criminal charges. The vicious public backlash did get the man who killed George Floyd arrested and charged with manslaughter and murder.

But the protesters and rioters may have been able to get the same result by focusing all that energy on the police and city hall, not on a Target retail store or random residences. They didn’t do anything wrong, and they don’t have the direct authority to do something about the injustice.

Seriously, we can’t just go around breaking things and menacing people over every unjust death, because unfortunately, despite our best efforts and living in a really great world full of a lot of very good people, there will be more terrible injustices like this. But this wasn’t a systemic injustice. It was an individual injustice, that four individuals perpetrated against an individual.

This was a local crime, not something the nation is guilty for.

This Isn’t About Race

It seems half the nation at least perceives the killing of George Floyd as a matter of race. But that’s hardly certain at all. It’s a big assumption without any evidence.

The police officer, Derek Chauvin, who killed Floyd was white. And George Floyd was black. But alone that doesn’t mean this happened because of systemic racism. It’s not even evidence that Chauvin himself is racist or acted differently than he would have if Floyd was white.

White people have been wrongfully killed by excessive police force too. So there are many examples of what happened to George Floyd where race is clearly not an issue.

One example that springs to mind is the shooting of 26-year-old Daniel Shaver in Mesa, Arizona. Shaver was white, and Philip Brailsford, also 26, the police officer who ended Shaver’s life, is white. Body cam footage showed a completely compliant Shaver face down on the ground, slowly crawling toward police officers as instructed. He was crying in fear with the officers’ rifles trained on him. Then Brailsford suddenly fired, executing Daniel Shaver.

The Mesa Police Department fired Brailsford, but he was acquitted of second degree murder at trial. And then he was reinstated to the police department and medically discharged to receive a $2,500 a year pension. There was some public outcry at the time, but nothing like what we’ve seen over the death of George Floyd.

So obviously it’s possible for something like this to happen without racism being a factor. A following investigation found Brailsford had violated department policy by engraving the words “You’re f***ed,” on his rifle. He was just a violent bully. And there’s so far been no evidence that Derek Chauvin is anything more than that. He has had 18 prior complaints filed against him according to MPD internal affairs. None of them indicate racism.

Maybe George Floyd would be alive today if he were 6’0” instead of 6’4” rather than white instead of black. Chauvin might have felt like it would be impossible to really hurt the big man. Going for the politically explosive explanation is easy to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s right.

Black People Are Safe In America

Number of people shot to death by the police in the United States from 2017 to 2020, by race (Source: Statista 2020)



Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey said
:

"Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a black man's neck ... When you hear someone calling for help, you're supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense."

But being black in America is not a death sentence. In 2019, the US Census Bureau estimates there were 43,984,096 black lives in the United States. Almost none of them were killed by the police. In 2019, police fatally shot 235 black people. They fatally shot 370 white people.

A person selected at random is over five times more likely to die from a urinary tract infection in the next year than a black person was likely to be killed by police in 2019. It almost never happens. That’s why it’s so shocking and makes headlines when it does. Because it’s very rare and unusual. It is the exception to normal life in America. It is not widespread, nor systemic.

If you take a white person and a black person at random from the entire US population, they’re probably hardly more likely to be unsafe from police officers.

If you take two men (they’re far more likely to be men) with the rap sheet of George Floyd, then a racial disparity shows up in the very few number of people shot to death by police each year.

And that’s not fair, and it shouldn’t be that way.

But it’s not the kind of systemic racial injustice that the Black Lives Matter protests this year have made it out to be. It’s injustice at the edges, in very unusual cases.

That doesn’t mean it’s okay what happened to George Floyd, or to other victims of police violence. And it’s good for Americans to take up the cause of some of the most stigmatized people, repeat criminals like George Floyd. That says a lot about our character, because these are the easiest people to brush aside. Criminals are humans deserving of rights and justice too.

But the uproar over this terrible tragedy doesn’t view Floyd as an individual human deserving of basic dignity and rights despite his flaws. He has been held up as a victim of systemic racial oppression. He represents all black people to the protesters, and Derek Chauvin represents the United States of America. That’s just not true at all.

I think this video more accurately sums up the general relationship of America’s police to its black citizens and all its citizens regardless of race:

https://twitter.com/LibertyCliff/status/1269264768516358144

Defunding The Police

Those clamoring now to defund the police in Minneapolis and elsewhere, are acting as if black lives do not matter to US society and that black people are unsafe from police violence.

But as the statistics above show, that’s just not reality. There is a racial disparity in police killings, but police killings are an extreme outlier event in American life, not systemic policies.

And it’s not at all clear that even the racial disparity in police killings is a result of systemic or individual racism on the part of the police officers responsible.

In fact, a study out last year of every police shooting since 2015 found victims of police shootings are more likely than not to be killed by a police officer of the same race:

“We found that the race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot. If anything, black citizens are more likely to have been shot by black officers, but this is because black officers are drawn from the same population that they police. So, the more black citizens there are in a community, the more black police officers there are.”

America is not the racist country that so many have made it out to be these past several days. Black Lives Matter protesters are actually dishonoring George Floyd by acting as if this happened to all of them too. It didn’t. It happened to George Floyd.

So why are people protesting like this over it?

The Tea Party of The Left

This is just my theory, but it’s not because Americans are looking out for the most marginalized. If that were the case there would have been an uproar when a 500lb, laser-guided, Lockheed Martin bomb dropped from a Saudi airplane fueled midair by the US Air Force exploded in 2018, killing a school bus full of children in Yemen coming home from school. Now that’s systemic. 

The timing of this unrest with the coronavirus lockdowns is very suspicious. With people out of work, worried, and forced by state and local governments to stay at home, which now appears to be a massive overreaction to COVID-19, there’s a lot of anger and resentment to go around.

Lockdown America in Spring 2020 was a powder keg for social unrest, waiting to be sparked. Police in Minnesota specifically, along with departments around the country, were preparing for civil unrest as far back as February. I predicted something like this on IVN in April. It’s a result of state and local governments locking their people down, and the federal government taking the opportunity to redistribute $6 trillion through its channels of power and privilege.

I predicted there would be something like the 2009 Tea Party, but on the left:

“Last time around most of the energy of the disenfranchised was on the Right, but this time around the Left will make much political capital of it, since the GOP held the White House and Senate, and because Donald Trump went to extraordinary lengths to brand the stimulus as a work of the GOP (e.g. not inviting Pelosi to the signing ceremony). That will come back to bite his party.”

Tea Party even trended on Twitter during the looting in Minnesota, as supporters drew comparisons to the destruction of property in Boston in 1773.

They are definitely a rowdier group than the democratic process-minded 2009 Tea Partiers of the right, that politely cleaned up after themselves after demonstrations in public squares, and got several of their candidates elected to positions of power in local, state, and federal government.

Some advice to the people who are making themselves heard: save some anger for the ballot booth where you can also be heard and actually impact policy.

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About the Author

Wes Messamore

An entrepreneurship major and graduate of Belmont University, Wes believes that small business, innovation, and creative thinking are required to solve problems and improve our world.

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