On the Killing of George Floyd

I had a facebook conversation with a friend a few days ago in which this friend said that while he agrees with the Republican Party on matters of policy, he cannot vote for a party that refuses to elect people who look like him (this friend is African American).

I asked this person why he does not run for office as a Republican. Generally speaking, about 90% of African American voters vote Democrat, which means that Republicans have fewer African Americans to choose from than do Democrats, but when African Americans run as Republicans, they generally do very well. As a consequence, I felt that the logical way for an African American who agrees with Republicans on matters of policy, to increase the number of African Americans Republicans elect, is to run for office as a Republican.

This friend told me that he could never bring himself to vote for a party that refuses to look like him, much less run in a party that refuses to look like him.

I asked him, “who is the one refusing?”

The conversation went back and forth. My position was that the Republican Party actually does pretty well electing African Americans when you consider that one tenth as many African Americans run as Republicans than run as Democrats. If 90% of a given demographic votes Democrat, you would expect 90% of the people in office from that demographic to also be Democrat. My friend took a different position, saying that before he could possibly consider voting Republican, the Republican Party would have to have a lot more African Americans in it. He said that there are a large number of African Americans who feel the same way.

It is somewhat impossible for the Republican Party to attract more African Americans if African Americans won’t allow themselves to be attracted to the Republican Party, even when they agree with Republicans. Needless to say, the conversation ended in an impasse.

And then four cops held George Floyd down, one with a knee on his neck for more than eight minutes, and George Floyd died.

Don Lemon said, in his daily news hand-off to Chris Cuomo, “I’m not condoning people protesting, but let me tell you, people are tired of living in an occupied country – a country that’s supposed to be free, yet they are occupied. So, they are frustrated and they are angry and they’re upset. You shouldn’t be taking televisions, but I can’t tell people how to react to this. I don’t know how it is to live under those circumstances in those neighborhoods.”

Colin Kaepernick tweeted, “When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction. The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance. We have the right to fight back! Rest in Power George Floyd.”

I, for one, think it is important for an accurate narrative to be delivered if we are ever going to heal the rift we are currently seeing in our country. I believe that the perception that African American men are being hunted by our police, whether true or not, creates distrust between our police and the communities they serve, and that is particularly true in communities where many of the residents are African American.

Common sense says that those who distrust the police are more apt to resist arrest. Resisting arrest seems to be a common theme in the incidents of African American men being killed by police (as it is when other groups are killed).

Colin Kaepernick openly promoting armed rebellion on Twitter is not going to help things, and nor will Don Lemon all but endorsing armed rebellion based on what he calls ‘an occupied country.’

Much of the anger is being caused by misinformation. African American men are not killed at a higher rate than are other Americans, but our media focuses like a laser on any questionable killing of an African American man.

We will never reach a point where nobody ever dies in a confrontation with police, and some of the people who die will be African American. Some police confrontations will always have questionable circumstances as well, ensuring that the public will sometimes disagree on the specifics of some specific cases. The demand that an African American never again die at the hands of the police – that’s not possible, and if that is the demand rioters have, then rational solutions are not possible either.

What we need is for justice to be performed against police officers who break policies and/or laws. In this case, the police officers involved have been fired, and the public SHOULD be adopting a wait and see attitude, until the autopsy report is released.

Everyone wants the police involved in killing George Floyd to be charged with a crime, and it would appear that they will be. What crime? I’m guessing that the prosecutor is waiting for the autopsy report to be released before deciding what to charge the former police officers with. If George Floyd died of asphyxiation, that would seem to support a serious charge. What I saw in the video was a police officer with plenty of time to think about what he was doing before George Floyd died, and some prosecutor might say he had long enough that at the moment of death, the killing was premeditated. Premeditated murder is murder in the first degree.

What if the autopsy shows that George Floyd died of a drug overdose – which is the other possible cause of death being discussed. While the police officers still seemed to use excessive force, the actual cause of death is going to be a factor in determining what to charge them with, and since someone can only be held for 72 hours without being charged, I can see how a prosecutor might want to have an idea what they are charging someone with before they ask for an arrest. The autopsy report will answer that question.

Note: Former officer Derek Chauvin has now been arrested.

I’m going to guess that justice will be delivered on the police who killed George Floyd, which brings us back to the rioting. There are 800,000 police officers in the country, and around twenty million arrests a year. Only a handful of those arrests lead to someone’s death, and in the vast majority of cases the person who died also resisted arrest. The police are not hunting African American men, African American men are not dying in disproportionate numbers compared to other groups, and as a consequence, as terrible as the death of George Floyd is, there is no cause for rioting. Colin Kaepernick should be arrested for inciting riots, and Don Lemon should be condemned for spreading falsehoods to the public, as a news anchor on CNN.

I’m still concerned about what my friend said about conservative African Americans not wanting to be Republicans, in spite of generally agreeing with Republicans. Race relations are not going to improve as long as one party (the Democratic Party) benefits from the perception that race relations are in horrendous shape. The fact of the matter is that the Democrats have every incentive to spin every narrative possible into one about race. Did George Floyd die because of race? I have no idea, though I do know that he would still be alive had he been willing to climb into the back of a police car, after having been arrested for using a fake twenty dollar bill.

We have to hold the police accountable, and if the police are treating African Americans with more disrespect that they treat other people, of course that needs to stop. At the same time, we have to hold narratives accountable. If “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” is false (it is), we need to stop using it. If a burglar gets shot, we should not call that person a jogger.

And for God’s sake, if a police officer decides for any reason to arrest you, don’t under any circumstances resist. Get an attorney, and let the attorney do that. When you submit to police authority, the same legal system currently protecting the people who killed George Floyd protects you, and had George Floyd allowed the police to put him into their police car, our legal system would be protecting him today.