For a brief few days, Americans were in agreement.
We all witnessed an 8 minute, 46 second tape of George Floyd, an African-American, being brutally killed — a dying man begging for mercy — with a cop who didn’t care.
In the past, there were debates about similar incidents — not this time. For police critics, it brought up high profile cases like Laquan McDonald’s 2014 death, where a white Chicago police officer was convicted of murder.
In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, Americans totally accepted demonstrations and protests. They accepted – and joined – these expressions of anger and hurt.
What Americans shouldn’t – and don’t – accept is unrelated looting, rioting, arson and mayhem. The violent scenes in over 30 cities were the worst in decades. The rioters looted shops and attacked police with impunity threatening a total breakdown of public order.
Police officers have been shot and killed. Retired St. Louis Police Capt. David Dorn, a 77-year-old African-American with 38 years in law enforcement, was killed by a looter with a felony record. Five other St. Louis officers were shot.
Las Vegas police officer Shay Mikalonis was shot in the head while handcuffing a protestor and is on life support.
There was no public outrage when another African-American male, Dave Patrick Underwood, was gunned down and died while standing guard outside the federal building in Oakland. A second federal officer was shot but survived.
Black Lives Matter and other activist groups like antifa promote their goal: “ Defund the Police.” The plain language is stunningly radical nonsense – but amazingly its gaining adherents among progressive Democrats.
Some supporters of “Defund the Police” want to increase the budgets of other community organizations paid for out of money currently directed toward police budgets.
Others want to replace core police functions with social workers and community representatives. Still others describe it as “restorative justice” drawing on “pre-modern conceptions of conflict resolution —such as peace circles — as an alternative to police and prisons.”
The hapless progressive Democrat Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey did nothing for four days while the Twin Cities burned. In a meeting with anti-police activists, he was booed when saying he did not believe in abolishing the police department.
Now, nine members of Minneapolis’s City Council – a veto-proof majority – have announced their intention to “disband” the city’s police department, vowing to replace it with a “new model of public safety,” claiming the current policing system “can’t be reformed.” The City Council president wants a “police-free society.”
Another progressive Democrat, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, has called for a $150 million budget cut “defunding” of the police in favor of financing social service programs in black neighborhoods.
Garcetti described police officers as “killers” in front of black community leaders. That brought a sharp rebuke from the LAPD police union head, who also said the proposed cuts would increase 911 response time and make the community less safe.
With over 300 NYPD officers injured in widespread looting and attacks on police in New York City, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, an ardent progressive Democrat, proposes to cut the police budget and “redistribute” it to social programs. The NYPD’s 36,000 officers are in open revolt – calling for DeBlasio’s resignation.
Does anyone really believe that “defunding the police” will result in less crime or looting? When neighborhoods are torched, storefronts smashed and graffiti sprayed, will people feel safer because there is a commitment to “social justice”?
Police reforms are needed.
Required use of “body cams” by police officers makes it harder to cover up abuses and may even deter some. They are also exculpatory to a falsely charged officer.
The National Black Police Association recommends requiring police officers to restrain or even arrest other officers who are using undue force against civilians.
We need more resources – not fewer – in support of our public safety officers.
Jim Hartman is an attorney residing in Genoa. Email firstname.lastname@example.org