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Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.
Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership.
It’s become customary to refer to the Black Lives Matter movement, without much challenge, as one of the civil rights movements of our time. In other instances, it’s suggested that it’s the progeny of the civil rights movement itself.
But to say or imply that Black Lives Matter is the offspring of the civil rights movement of the 1960s is to misunderstand the history and character of that great moral revolution. It is to also misunderstand, or outright ignore, the intentions of Black Lives Matter while disregarding or rationalizing its tactics, agenda, and its aims. Black Lives Matter is in no way a civil rights movement and it’s certainly not an heir to the civil rights movement. The conduct consistently displayed and condoned by far too many Black Lives Matter members, in combination with the agenda expressed by its leaders, disqualifies Black Lives Matter from any consideration of being an extension of the civil rights movement.
The civil rights movement, all things considered, had a moral authority that the Black Lives Matter movement demonstrably lacks. The civil rights movement was centered in, and had the backing of a considerable portion of, the black church. Despite the lack of religious unification and support by both black and white churches, the activists in the civil rights movement were determined to appeal to the moral conscience of the nation by showing the world the egregious reality of segregation by exposing the violent actions of its defenders. This was successfully accomplished through a program of nonviolence, redemptive suffering, and civil disobedience. These direct actions applied Christian principles on one hand, and the aspirations of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution on the other. Civil rights activists deliberately refused to respond in kind to the treatment they received by those who opposed their mission. This meant that taunting and aggressively confronting the police, characteristic of Black Lives Matter militants, weren’t permitted.
It’s something when there is worse news than over 100K people dying of a virus and 40 million people filing for unemployment in the last several months. Add protests, both peaceful and violent to the mix resulting in millions of dollars in property damage, injuries, and death. The guys take a 50,000 view of the protests and also discuss what stands out the most and good, if any, will come of it.
They also discuss news items that aren’t getting covered due to the protests.
When I joined in 1981, the Albuquerque Police Department had a technique for restraining unruly suspects called “Total Appendage Restraint Procedure” or TARP. Despite the grandiose name, it simply meant cuffing one ankle with a set of leg irons, looping the chain around the chain of the handcuffs the arrestee had on (behind their back, of course) and cuffing the other ankle. The prisoner was thus trussed with bent knees, unable punch or kick and with limited mobility to bite or head-butt. We were taught how to do this in the police academy, but I don’t recall any instruction on the policy for monitoring the person so restrained. We were told to call it TARP and not “hogtie” or “suitcase.”
All was well until the late ’90s. An officer put a TARPed prisoner into the back of his car, face-down. When he got to the jail, the suspect was dead. It turns out that if you lay someone prone who has vascular or lung problems or is obese, is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and/or is agitated, they may die. The cause is something called “positional asphyxia.”
Seth Barron and Nicole Gelinas discuss the eruption of lawlessness in Midtown Manhattan and other parts of New York City and the inability of Mayor de Blasio and the NYPD to quell the worst criminal violence.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis, cities across the nation have seen large demonstrations in the last week. Many have degenerated into urban riots, with violence, looting, and property destruction, in a wholesale collapse of public order. In New York City, clashes between protesters and police in Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan turned violent over the weekend, followed by fires and looting in midtown and the Bronx on Monday night. Meantime, the city’s elected officials refuse to tell demonstrators to stay home amid the escalating violence and a still-active coronavirus pandemic.
The explosive video of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a white male, with his knee firmly planted on the neck of local, black resident George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, brings to public attention two forms of immunity from liability.
The first is a police officer’s broad level of qualified immunity. Floyd, who was detained under suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill, became non-responsive and died shortly thereafter. Several days later, Office Chauvin was charged with murder on the correct ground that he lost his qualified immunity from prosecution because his actions so manifestly violated established norms of police behavior. That charging decision was met with universal approbation across the political spectrum, but was preceded by widespread acts of violence in Minneapolis and around the nation, bringing massive destruction to the property of innocent residents, which only intensified even after the prosecution was announced.
There are many urgent and cogent calls today to reduce the burdens needed to overcome the qualified immunity for police officers, calls that are long overdue. But just as police officers must be held accountable for the damage they cause, so too must the rioters who have opportunistically used Floyd’s killing to inflict further harm on innocent bystanders. The First Amendment’s right of the people “peaceably to assemble” provides no immunity to such acts of violence.
In over 37 years of writing and commenting on current events, I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with whether or not to write on any particular topic as much as I have this one. The problem isn’t that it’s difficult to condemn murderers. On the contrary, what happened to Mr. George Floyd is unimaginable, and yet we saw it happen right in front of us. I can’t fathom what this gentleman went through, begging for mercy, crying while trying to simply breathe before ultimately losing consciousness and dying. A nation watched as that gentleman was killed, begging for his very life under the suffocating weight of a cop who was as passively disinterested in his victim as a predator in the wild waiting for the death of its prey. Likewise, hunting down and killing a black man out on a jog, as that stupid little posse of murderers did to Ahmad Aubrey, is equally infuriating and incomprehensibly vile. It’s inhuman. It’s depraved. And it is inexcusable. Period. Full stop.
Under those circumstances, uniting the country really wasn’t difficult at all. From the White House to practically every house, every church, every business and social gathering in the country, all were horrified, angered, and continue to demand justice for George Floyd, Ahmad Aubrey, as well as their families and friends. That nationwide anguish and anger undoubtedly helped bring about the firing of all the officers involved, murder charges against the officer with his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, the likelihood of charges against the other officers, and brought murder charges against those who savagely killed Ahmad Aubrey.
However, those actions have been deemed insufficient by the mob, which expects us to sit passively by and watch cities burn, see lives and livelihoods destroyed, and genuflect deeply to miscreants who take yet more lives and beat up innocent people. You see, I had meant to write a more conciliatory piece, but after multiple nights of mindless destruction, I don’t much feel like appeasing anarchists anymore. I’m told we must confront some uncomfortable realities. Fair enough:
The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has sparked nationwide protests, largely because Floyd was a black man and it is claimed that he was the victim of racially motivated mistreatment. The case has parallels to the Boston Massacre that occurred just 250 years ago on March 25, […]
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Since I’ve been in the arena, for what it’s worth I’ll comment on the George Floyd incident in Minneapolis. This is the second major incident that indicates there is something wrong with the training model and the hiring model of the Minneapolis Police Department. Every police department and sheriff’s office in the United States should be looking at this incident and assessing their training and hiring model. They should be asking themselves; “Could this happen to us?”
Training is expensive and it should not stop after an officer graduates from the academy. In-service training should continue on a regular basis for officers and supervisors. In-service training is expensive, but the lack of in-service training could cost lives, not just dollars. In-service training also allows trainers to assess a department’s officers on a regular basis.
It’s all bad martinis today! After a brief commentary on the CDC still not getting its coronavirus guidelines straight, Jim and Greg groan for the First Amendment as Twitter starts meddling with free speech and President Trump starts threatening government regulation of social media. They also shudder at the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers, which was caught on video. And they discuss the story of the “Central Park Karen” and whether being cooped up for months has some people itching for confrontations.