There’s no business like cop business. When business is bad — like it can be following a high-profile murder by one of your officers — cops double down. They complain there’s too much scrutiny. They attack and punish people for engaging in First Amendment-protected activities. They engage in the very violence being protested against.
And while it’s somewhat amusing to watch The Man complaining the oppressed are actually the oppressors, the reality isn’t nearly as comical. Using outlier activity as justification for increased surveillance, the Minneapolis PD decided the trial of George Floyd’s murderer — Officer Derek Chauvin — was the only excuse it needed to place plenty of people suspected of no criminal activity under surveillance.
Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota have been carrying out a secretive, long-running surveillance program targeting civil rights activists and journalists in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in May 2020. Run under a consortium known as Operation Safety Net, the program was set up a year ago, ostensibly to maintain public order as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin went on trial for Floyd’s murder. But an investigation by MIT Technology Review reveals that the initiative expanded far beyond its publicly announced scope to include expansive use of tools to scour social media, track cell phones, and amass detailed images of people’s faces.
Documents obtained via public records requests show that the operation persisted long after Chauvin’s trial concluded. What’s more, they show that police used the extensive investigative powers they’d been afforded under the operation to monitor individuals who weren’t suspected of any crime.
A month before Chauvin’s murder trial, a conglomerate of Minnesota law enforcement agencies decided it was time to get a surveillance boost. As is the style of those charged with naming new government overreach projects, the new program was given an extremely innocuous name: Operation Safety Net.
But the trial of Chauvin seemed to indicate the people needed more protection from the supposed protectors. State law enforcement say it the other way: it was time for cops to be protected from the people. According to law enforcement officials, the program ran from February 2021 and (allegedly) ended January 2022. Now that there are more officers on trial for their actions during that murder, it would seem this project is due for a resurrection.
But there’s no need for a resurrection, as MIT Technology Review points out. The operation’s public website may have gone dormant and an official announcement of OSN’s alleged defunctness delivered by law enforcement officials, but the program is alive and well.
However, according to emails obtained and reviewed as part of our investigation, the operation does appear to be actively ongoing, with regular planning meetings of the executive and intelligence teams—where it has been referred to as “OSN 2.0”—and sharing of intelligence documents. No information about the goals or extent of the new engagement has been publicly disclosed and officials contacted about the program denied it had been formally renewed.
Despite OSN’s stated promise to “preserve and protect lawful First Amendment nonviolent protests and demonstrations,” state law enforcement went the other way. The Minneapolis Police secured the use of CBP (Customs and Border Protection) helicopters to engage in high-altitude surveillance. OSN participants (which included the Minnesota State Patrol) compiled a watchlist of people engaging in protected First Amendment activity, including journalists covering the protests.
This watchlist was shared. Rapidly. A real-time, data-sharing tool (the article refers to it as “Slack for SWAT”) called Intrepid Response ensured officers involved in this so-called “safety” program had a wealth of information about journalists and peaceful protesters officers might encounter while policing protests.
This wasn’t some ad hoc operation limited to officers from precincts near protests. It was a massive effort that involved at least one military agency.
In total, OSN would require officers from nine agencies in Minnesota, 120 out-of-state supporting officers, and at least 3,000 National Guard soldiers. The surveillance tools were managed by several different intelligence groups that collaborated throughout the operation.
Helicopters, drones, a fast moving data-sharing network, the National Guard, and, of course, the Department of Homeland Security. The intel teams utilized a DHS information network to disseminate data, which would seemingly include the “watchlist” targeting journalists and peaceful protesters. The originally Minneapolis-centric “safety net” also managed to ensnare the assistance of six FBI agents, four of which were on the OSN’s “executive operation team.”
On top of all of this, some Minnesota law enforcement officers have been given seemingly permanent pay bumps and powers. This reaction to presumed reactions to cop trials/convictions have resulted in a handful of lateral promotions that are going to look pretty impressive on some officers’ resumes.
Entirely new titles and positions were created within the Minneapolis Police Department and the aviation section of the Minnesota State Patrol that leverage new surveillance technologies and methods…
This report suggests there are more unsavory details are on the way, but this is already pretty damn concerning. This was — and apparently still is — a surveillance program specifically created to monitor the public’s reactions to severe police misconduct. This isn’t the sort of thing that repairs the damage done by years of law enforcement agencies refusing to root out bad officers or treat officer misconduct seriously. This only serves two purposes: deepens the mistrust the public has for law enforcement and reminds the policed one side still has a firm grip on most of the power.
It’s not often you see a cop face criminal charges for injuring or killing someone they’re attempting to arrest. It’s even rarer still to see a cop convicted. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is a unicorn. He knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, choking the life out of the unarmed black man, who was suspected of nothing else than passing a bogus $20 bill at a local store. He did this for three minutes after another police officer told Chauvin he couldn’t detect a pulse.
Chauvin’s violence provoked protests around the nation targeting routine police violence that has gone unaddressed pretty much since law enforcement organizations were formed in the 1800s primarily to hunt down escaped slaves.
But what about the other officers present during Chauvin’s cruel and abusive display of force? Well, we have more unicorns to add to the list of anomalies. The three officers who watched and assisted Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd have all been convicted on federal charges.
Three former Minneapolis police officers were found guilty on Thursday of violating the civil rights of George Floyd, the Black man whose death at the hands of police in 2020 spurred protests against systemic racism around the world.
The former officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, all were convicted of depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority when they failed to give him medical aid. Kueng and Thao, additionally, were convicted of not intervening to stop their fellow officer Derek Chauvin from using excessive force.
Some justice finally. I mean, at least up until the appeals, during which anything could happen. The NBC News report notes each conviction contains the possibility of a life sentence but also points out sentences this lengthy are unlikely,
But, hey, we have the convictions! This is a good thing and will hopefully start moving towards being the new normal, rather than something that only happens when an entire nation starts burning following a killing of an unarmed black person by police officers. And these officers are still facing state charges for aiding and abetting the murder of George Floyd, which means these might not be the only convictions they’ll obtain for standing idly by while one of their own took the life of a Minneapolis resident.
If anything has the potential to change the law enforcement attitude that the people they serve are expendable, it’s convictions on serious criminal charges that will force them to rub elbows with people they’ve always considered to be less than human.
Thao testified that he never saw the officers reposition Floyd or begin rendering medical aid.
Asked by his attorney Robert Paule if he found their lack of medical intervention “significant,” Thao said this shaped his view that Floyd wasn’t in any medical danger because of department policy that requires officers to begin CPR when someone in their custody or care doesn’t have a pulse.
“If they are not doing CPR, then I assume he’s still breathing and fine,” Thao said. “It indicated that Mr. Floyd was not in cardiac arrest.”
Ah, the elliptical defense. Thao assumed Floyd wasn’t in medical distress because no officer had acted on Floyd’s repeated statement that he couldn’t breathe. Well done, Thao. Please remember that defense when your fellow prisoners deliver a savage beating and the guards claim they didn’t realize you were being injured because no other guard had attempted to determine whether you were in “medical danger.”
I am not here to praise the carceral state. I am only here to observe how rare it is for the justice system to deliver something approaching justice when it’s cops accused of criminal acts. And I’m also here to note with more than a little enjoyable schadenfreude that the cheerily dismissive platitudes offered by law enforcement officers (i.e., “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime,” etc.) now apply to some of their own. Let’s hope these unplanned field trips to the dehumanizing hellholes we ridiculously refer to as “correction facilities” will educate the cops that happen to pass through him and serve as a serious deterrent against future atrocities committed by officers.
The police officer who set off months of anti-police violence protests has been sentenced to more than 22 years in prison. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly ten minutes… and for more than two minutes after another officer said he couldn’t detect a pulse.
This murder was carried out in broad daylight in front of several witnesses. Perhaps the most important witness was the one who filmed the entire killing: 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. Largely because of this recording, Chauvin was unable to elude justice.
Two months after Chauvin’s conviction on murder charges, Judge Peter Cahill has handed down a sentence nearly a decade longer than the 10-15 years recommended by state sentencing guidelines. This sentence is far more than Chauvin’s lawyer felt was justified. His attorney asked for time served and probation. (Chauvin had been incarcerated for 199 days by the time he was sentenced.) But it’s also less than what prosecutors had asked for: a 30-year sentence based on several aggravating factors.
Judge Cahill didn’t just hand down a sentence. He also issued a written order [PDF] explaining his decision to depart upwards from the sentencing guidelines. The order is thorough. And the list of aggravating factors includes the public nature of this killing and a reference to the witness who filmed the incident, creating an undeniable version of the facts that made it impossible for Chauvin to walk away from this.
Here’s the short version of the court’s explanation for its sentencing variance:
[T]he Court found that the evidence at trial proved beyond a reasonable doubt the following four aggravated sentencing factors:
(i) That Mr. Chauvin abused a position of trust and authority;
(ii) That Mr. Chauvin treated George Floyd with particular cruelty;
(iii) That children were present during the commission of the offense;
(iv) That Mr. Chauvin committed the crime as a group with the active participation of three other individuals, former Minneapolis Police Officers Thou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, who all actively participated with Mr. Chauvin in the crime in various ways.
These are presented in more detail later on in the order.
Mr. Chauvin “abused his position of authority” by using unreasonable force to hold “a handcuffed George Floyd in a prone position on the street”—“a position that Defendant knew from his training and experience carried with it a danger of positional asphyxia”—for more than nine minutes and forty seconds, “an inordinate amount of time.”
“Defendant’s placement of his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck was an egregious abuse of the authority to subdue and restrain because the prolonged use of this maneuver was employed after George Floyd had already been handcuffed and continued for more than four and a half minutes after Mr. Floyd had ceased talking and had become unresponsive.”
That “failure to render aid became particularly abusive after Mr. Floyd had passed out, and was still being restrained in the prone position, with Mr. Chauvin continuing to kneel on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck with one knee and on his back with another knee, for more than two and a half minutes after one of his fellow officers announced he was unable to detect a pulse.”
Also factoring into the upward variance is the fact that this was no ordinary killing. As the court points out, this was an protracted, painful experience that ended in death — one that was far crueler than the acts normally associated with murders and assaults.
Mr. Chauvin’s prolonged restraint of Mr. Floyd was also much longer and more painful than the typical scenario in a second-degree or third-degree murder or second-degree manslaughter case. The “prolonged nature of the asphyxiation” makes this offense different in kind than, for example, a near-instantaneous death by gunshot, which is one typical scenario for this type of offense.
The conduct this Court has deemed particularly cruel also occurred over a longer period and was substantially more painful than a typical third-degree assault, the predicate felony offense for Mr. Chauvin’s second-degree murder conviction. […] . Chauvin’s conduct went beyond just inflicting “substantial bodily harm.” It “kill[ed] George Floyd slowly”—over the course of almost ten minutes—by inhibiting “his ability to breathe when Mr. Floyd had already made it clear he was having trouble breathing.” Indeed, Mr. Chauvin’s continuation of the assault after Mr. Floyd was no longer conscious and no longer had a pulse—Mr. Chauvin “continu[ed] to kneel on the back of Mr. Floyd’s neck . . . for more than two and a half minutes after one of his fellow officers announced he was unable to detect a pulse”—plainly sets Mr. Chauvin’s conduct apart from the typical case involving a felony assault that results in substantial bodily harm and death to the victim.
For that, the judge tacks on another ten years. Chauvin — the second Minneapolis police officer to be convicted of murder in the last two years — will spend most of the next 15 years in jail and another eight years under supervised release. Nothing done here will bring George Floyd back to life. But the court’s willingness to depart upwards when sentencing a former cop should hopefully act as a deterrent towards future police violence.
This isn’t an endpoint. This is only a beginning. This is one small step forward for accountability. It doesn’t change the police culture that not only allows, but encourages, this sort of force deployment. But it does send the warning that juries may not be as deferential to police officers as they’ve been historically.
To successfully prosecute a cop, you have to want to do it. Too many prosecutors would rather not expend the effort needed to hold their comrades-in-arms accountable for their actions. But every so often, a cop engages in such a callous display of violence, even those normally on the side of law enforcement can’t condone their actions.
That’s what happened to former-officer, current-convicted-murderer Derek Chauvin. Thanks to bystanders and their recording devices — especially then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier, whose recording of the 10-minute ordeal was instrumental in building a case against Chauvin — this one cop wasn’t able to escape the consequences of his actions. For nearly 10 minutes, Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. He ignored Floyd’s increasingly-distressed statements that he couldn’t breathe. He ignored a fellow officer who informed him he could no longer detect a pulse. He remained in place, looking for all the world like the personification of every racist policy this nation has enacted, until George Floyd was dead.
And for that callous and reckless display of power, Derek Chauvin will be going to jail. The Minneapolis jury convicted him of all three counts. Here’s the recording of that moment, which cathartically includes the cuffing of Chauvin by sheriff’s deputies.
There are three counts, but Chauvin will only be sentenced for the most serious charge: second-degree unintentional murder. That’s perhaps still unsatisfactory (nothing about Chauvin’s actions appeared to be “unintentional”) but it’s better than we’ve come to expect from our criminal justice system when it’s forced to address the actions of law enforcement officers.
Let’s not forget that without the recordings made at the scene by citizens and nearby surveillance cameras, it’s likely no charges would have been filed.
Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction
May 25, 2020 (MINNEAPOLIS) On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.
At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.
Oh, and just in case you worried about this particular aspect…
No officers were injured in the incident.
The death was apparently unrelated to the act of violence perpetrated on George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin. At least according to the Minneapolis PD, which whitewashed this press release and whitewashed it again before posting it. But once the videos started showing up on social media, it could no longer ignore what anyone could plainly see had happened. This wasn’t a “medical incident.” It was — as the jury declared — a murder.
Police reform efforts are still important. This blip on the zero-accountability radar shouldn’t be treated as a sign things are fixed. It shouldn’t even be an indicator that things are getting better. But hopefully some law enforcement agencies will recognize the public is, at best, unimpressed with their efforts and their careless disregard for all lives that aren’t “blue,” but especially those that aren’t white.
With this hovering in the air, another senseless killing by an officer set everything off. Again. 26-year-veteran officer Kim Potter (who served a year as the head of the police union) turned a “routine traffic stop” into a homicide when Daunte Wright broke free from another officer and jumped back into his car. Potter yelled “Taser! Taser! Taser!” while pointing her gun at Wright. She shot him once, which was enough to kill him. Potter’s service weapon was holstered on her right side. The Taser she supposedly thought she had in her hand was holstered on her left. The Taser was bright yellow. The gun she shot Wright with was not.
Officer Potter resigned but it didn’t change anything. She has been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. Potter’s error — which seems completely inexplicable given the location, distance, color, and weight of the weapons she confused — turned Brooklyn Center, Minnesota into ground zero for more protests and riots. And the Chauvin trial continues, promising more of the same if the end result is unsatisfactory.
More of the same is also being observed by protesters and the journalists covering them. Protests around the country following the George Floyd killing were greeted by police violence. Journalists and legal observers were often targeted with the same crowd control efforts deployed against protesters and rioters. In far too many cases, officers (especially federal officers sent in to “help”) appeared to specifically target journalists for abuse, including harassment and close-range deployments of pepper spray, tear gas, and other crowd control efforts.
This targeted harassment of well protected First Amendment activity has resulted in lawsuits. So far, the government has always come out on the losing end. The same goes for Minnesota, where a judge has just approved a restraining order forbidding officers from targeting or arresting journalists. Here’s Tony Webster’s coverage of the mid-protest litigation:
A Minnesota federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring Minnesota state law enforcement from using force against journalists or ordering them to disperse while covering protests. The ruling does not apply to local law enforcement or the National Guard, however.
In a 22-page order, Judge Wilhelmina M. Wright cited examples of police treatment of the press over the past week, including police orders specifically directed to members of the press to vacate protest areas, and incidents of journalists being pepper sprayed, physically grabbed, or hit by projectiles.
There are limitations and it doesn’t affect every agency policing protests. But the allegations aren’t theoretical. There’s plenty of evidence cops are going after journalists specifically. A letter [PDF] sent to Governor Tim Walz and the heads of three state law enforcement agencies on behalf of multiple press outlets contains disturbing documentation of officers targeting journalists.
The letter follows the restraining order put in place by a federal judge — one that appears to have been immediately violated by officers, including those specifically told by their agency (the Minnesota State Police) to leave journalists alone.
[A]s discussed on our call, reports from journalists on the ground indicate that over the last several days—and even last night after the TRO was in effect—law enforcement officers have engaged in widespread intimidation, violence, and other misconduct directed at journalists that have interfered with their ability to report on matters of intense public interest and concern.
The letter contains a long list of violations committed by law enforcement officers who knew they were dealing with journalists.
Two separate photojournalists on assignment for The New York Times were harassed by officers. In one instance, a Minneapolis State Patrol Captain recognized the photojournalist, rushed out of a police line, and grabbed him. The officer then pulled the journalist behind the police line where another officer held his hands behind his back and took his phone. When the journalist asked “why,” the officer said: “Because that’s our strategy right now.”
Carolyn Sung, an Asian-American CNN producer, was thrown to the ground and arrested by state troopers Tuesday night while trying to comply with a dispersal order. As Sung tried to leave the area as directed, troopers grabbed Sung by her backpack and threw her to the ground, zip-tying her hands behind her back. Sung did not resist and repeatedly identified herself as a journalist working for CNN and showed her credentials.
On April 13, while in a car with others, police officers surrounded the car, banging on the windows and doors with wooden sticks and yelling to get out. The driver of the car was dragged out and arrested; another photographer in the car was taken out and talked to. The New York Times journalist was repeatedly hit by officers while in the car, and the officers also tried to break his camera.
On the night the restraining order went into effect, journalists were kettled by Hennepin County deputies. After they were released, they ran into another set of officers one block north of where they were first detained. These officers ordered them to “line up for processing,” which took the form of each journalist being ordered to produce ID, lower their face masks, and be photographed by the officers.
Then there were incidents like these, where press members, clearly marked as “press” in fluorescent “press” vests, were pepper-sprayed by an officer standing just a few feet away from them.
The Minnesota State Police issued its own orders following the approval of the restraining order. It admits its policy used to be to temporarily detain and photograph journalists. That’s no longer the case. Officers may still ask to see credentials but they’re barred from taking pictures of press members or their press passes. The rest of the MSP’s orders follow the specifications of the restraining order, which says officers will no longer be able to arrest journalists for not complying with dispersal commands while noting this is the “primary change” affecting how MSP officers “interact with the press.”
But there have been no similar pledges to respect journalists and their rights from other law enforcement agencies. Perhaps they’re all waiting to be told specifically by federal judges to stop violating rights, even though it’s clear similar actions by government agencies not named in the suit would be just as much of a violation.
This remains unsettled and journalists will continue to be targeted and attacked by law enforcement officers. And if it’s this bad now, it’s only going to get worse once the Derek Chauvin verdict is delivered. Journalists can provide crucial documentation of police activity during these protests. And it seems clear many officers would prefer this didn’t happen.
A hundred years later. You’re fucked. A hundred years after that. Fucked. A hundred years after you get free, you still getting fucked out a job and shot at by police.
That’s George Floyd. The Minneapolis resident allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store. The penalty was death — delivered extrajudicially by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Officer Chauvin put his knee on the neck of the handcuffed Floyd for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. This continued for more than two minutes after Officer Chauvin had checked Floyd’s pulse and stated he “couldn’t find one.”
A man was dead under Chauvin’s knee and yet he never moved. No one around him moved either. The other three officers at the scene watched Officer Chauvin kill a man, and not a single one of them did anything to prevent this from happening.
The good news is they’ve all been fired. The other news — with the “good” excised — is Officer Chauvin is being criminally charged. That’s only news. Buy your insurance now because it’s almost guaranteed Minneapolis will burn again once a jury has had a shot at this thing.
First, there’s the murder charge. We all want this but there’s little that supports it. It looks like murder, but the state has to prove things it’s probably not going to be able to prove — especially when the people doing the prosecuting aren’t all that interested in prosecuting cops.
Third-degree murder is the most minimal of murder charges and even that might not be enough to drag Officer Chauvin into the crushing wheels of the carceral state. As Scott Greenfield explains, there doesn’t appear to be enough to justify this charge in what’s been seen in multiple videos. It appears Chauvin deployed a restraint technique that’s been given a thumbs up by multiple law enforcement agencies.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with Murder 3, a not-insignificant charge even if it lacks the panache of Murder 1, with a potential sentence of 25 years in prison. Unlike intentional murder, the mens rea under Minnesota Statutes § 609.195 requires only a “depraved mind.”
609.195 MURDER IN THE THIRD DEGREE.
(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.
Yet, the complaint filed by the Hennepin County Attorney made almost no effort to assert that the elements of the charge were met, that Chauvin was “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
While the video clearly showed Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, which was naturally assumed, for obvious reasons, to have been the cause of death, that alone does not suffice to meet the element that it was an “act eminently dangerous.” It’s hardly an undangerous immobilization technique, but it’s also not an uncommon restraint, and is a permissible use of force in Minneapolis. That it’s only supposed to be used to restrain someone actively resisting gives rise to a departmental violation, but doesn’t elevate a lawful use of force to an eminently dangerous act.
If that falls, we’re left with manslaughter. And that probably won’t be enough to convince anyone Chauvin has been punished enough for continuing to use his knee to “restrain” Floyd for almost three minutes after a cop couldn’t detect his pulse.
“I am worried about excited delirium or whatever,” Lane said.
From that, we run into the details of the coroner’s report. These are preliminary, so they will change. But the exonerative text is already in there, ready for deployment by tough-on-crime politicians, media personnel willing to act like PD stenographers, police union officials (and the police union in Minneapolis is one of the worst), and anyone else seeking to justify Chauvin’s actions.
George Floyd didn’t die because Officer Chauvin crushed Floyd’s neck with his knee for almost nine minutes — most of which were spent with Floyd stating he couldn’t breathe. He died because he was going to die, with or without Officer Chauvin’s intercession.
The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.
George Floyd died of heart disease, you guys. It coincidentally killed him while he was having his neck compressed by a cop who checked his pulse and discovered he was likely already dead and continued to compress his neck for another two minutes. Also peep the “potential intoxicants,” which probably gave George Floyd the superhuman strength he needed to stay alive for seven of those nine minutes before succumbing to “coronary artery disease.”
If Chauvin walks, Minneapolis burns again. Multiple cities burn. Unlike other killings of black men by cops, this has prompted intense protests across the nation. This one — committed in full view of multiple phones and at least one nearby CCTV camera — shows cops do not give a fuck who is watching. They will do what they want to do and roll the dice on a favorable ruling by federal courts.
LET IT BURN. LET IT ALL BURN.
In response to this killing, Minneapolis burned. Looting accompanied the protests, as is often the case. We can argue about the positive/negative effects of looting for as long as you want in the comment threads, but let’s take a look at a couple of facts.
We have had riots in America for years. And looting. Those arguing that the destruction of businesses during these protests is counterproductive need to have their memories refreshed. This nation began with the looting of British ships. A whole offshoot of the “rule of law” party (also the “free speech” party, which is currently headed by someone seeking to directly regulate social media platforms) named itself after protesters who boarded British ships and threw their merchandise overboard.
Even if you decry the the destruction of local businesses which may not have the funds to recover from this unexpected turn of events, you cannot argue with protesters going straight to the source of the problem.
Police precinct set on fire on the third day of demonstrations as the so-called Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul seethed over the shocking police killing of a handcuffed black man
The cops fucked this up. The cops should pay. Unfortunately, it will be taxpayers funding the rebuilding of the Third Precinct station in Minneapolis, but, by all means, burn every cop car, precinct, etc. that stands between black Americans and the respect of their rights.
The message is clear: cops are the problem, not the solution. Burn the shit that means something to them — the stuff that protects them from the people — and see where we all are at the end of the day.
Let’s take the long view. What has this accomplished? Here’s a list of riots sparked by police violence against minorities — one dating back nearly 60 years.
1965: Los Angeles 1967: Newark 1967: Detroit 1968: King assassination 1980: Miami 1992: Los Angeles 2001: Cincinnati 2014: Ferguson 2015: Baltimore 2016: Charlotte
Cops haven’t changed. And they haven’t changed despite having every reason to. Several dozen cop shops are operating under consent decrees with the Department of Justice because they can’t be trusted to not violate rights en masse on their own. The rest are still acting like it’s a war zone out there, cladding themselves in cast-off military gear and equipment even as crime rates remain at historic lows. It’s tough to be a cop out there, say cops, even as unimpeachable data says otherwise to a bunch of impeachable cops.
But let’s just say you’re arguing that riots/protests/looting don’t solve anything. Let’s look at the data again. Here are the years where nothing happened:
Did not attacking cops help then? Did leaving retail outlets intact make policing better? Did a lack of looting force cops to realize their systemic bias was hurting communities? Did all of this non-action bring us to a better place in terms of our relationship with law enforcement? (Those of you who are not minorities can put your hands down. Thanks.)
Short answer: it did not. The boot stamping on a human face forever is the past, present, and future. This image was personified by Officer Chauvin, who placed his knee on the neck of a human being suspected of passing a counterfeit $20 bill until he died. And continued to perform this inadvertently symbolic move for nearly another three minutes after that.
If it’s going to burn — and it should — it should start with those who have earned the flames. Cop cars are burning. Police stations are burning. Good. There is nothing wrong with this. The cops pretended to fear us whenever it was convenient. They claimed their subjective fear that someone might have a weapon justified every bullet they pumped into a person. Then they did nothing when people carrying actual guns marched on government buildings to demand access to restaurants and haircuts.
Fuck them. If you’re going to cry about the threats separating you from making it home to your family every night, at least be consistent. And if you can’t be consistent, at least restrain yourself from killing non-resistant people in the street in front of several cameras. And for fuck’s sake, if you can’t do that last part, it just means you don’t fear the public and their representatives. It means you think the courts will clear you, if not your own department and union. No public official deserves this much deference, trust, or unearned protection.
YOU OWE US.
That obligation has never changed. The only thing that has changed is the other branches of the government, which have decided — either through QI rulings or deference to police unions — that the public matters less than those sworn to serve it.
This is not me wading into a recent controversy with my eye on harvesting clicks. This is me — and this site — covering the abuses perpetrated by law enforcement agencies for years. There is nothing anomalous about this event. It just shows accountability can’t be brought solely by the mute witnesses of criminal acts by law enforcement officers. We have our cameras pointed at them. They have their own cameras. And yet, they still don’t care.