By Gary McCollum/Opinion
On Monday, May 25th of this year a horrible crime occurred. The very next day the world witnessed the horrible crime, as the video went viral globally. George Floyd, a man in handcuffs, on the ground had a criminal (Derek Chauvin) acting as a police officer kneel on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds causing his death. The entire nation saw this and was shocked and mortified.
By Tuesday, the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo, fired all four officers involved. It must be noted that Chauvin was a police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department for nearly 19 years.
About Derek Chauvin: He was the subject of at least eighteen complaints and only two were “closed with discipline,” according to a department internal affairs public summary. Chauvin was also assigned as a training officer to at least one of the three other officers involved. He was also a veteran of the Army where he served as a military policeman.
About the remaining officers involved: J. Alexander Kueng, 26, joined the Minneapolis police department as a cadet in February of 2019. This was his third shift as a police officer. He had no prior complaints. Chauvin was his training officer. Thomas Lane, 37, joined the Minneapolis police department as a cadet in February of 2019. This was his fourth day as a police officer, he had no prior complaints. Tou Thao, 34, had been a Minneapolis police officer since 2012. He had six complaints filed, one was unresolved, the other five were closed with no discipline.
Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder, says he killed Floyd “without intent” in the course of committing assault in the third degree.
J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao were each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Bail was set for $1 million each. Second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree murder are punishable by up to 40 years in prison. Manslaughter and aiding and abetting manslaughter are punishable by up to 10 years in prison
George Floyd was accused of attempting to use a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. He remained at the scene in his vehicle just around the corner. He was removed from his vehicle, and initially resisted being handcuffed. He then was walked to the police car. When they attempted to put him in the squad car, Floyd stated at this time he could not breathe and was claustrophobic. He resisted by falling to the ground while in handcuffs to avoid getting put into the squad car. At one point he was almost in the patrol car with the aid of the other officers on scene, but Chauvin pulled him back out and he fell face first on the ground. Chauvin then placed his knee on Floyd’s neck. He was heard stating he could not breathe multiple times. George Floyd’s record or life choices don’t need to be debated. He should be alive today.
All four officers were discharged the day after the murder of George Floyd, but it took four days for the City of Minneapolis to file charges against them.
Hundreds of protestors came out on Tuesday night, May 26, and some demonstrators vandalized police vehicles with graffiti and targeted the precinct where the four officers were assigned. The outrage continued and spread nationwide. While many protests were peaceful, many were co-opted by instigators from outside the areas and supposedly some were members of the group “Antifa,” which President Trump wants to label as a domestic terrorist group.
In frustration with the blatant police abuse in the George Floyd case, the people protested. They deserved to protest. They need to be heard. If a citizen has a grievance with local, state, or federal laws, protesting is one of the most effective ways to have their voices heard and grievances addressed. There have been hundreds of protests across the world. Unfortunately, many of them have been co-opted by other organizations. A protest should never turn to violence. The destruction of public and personal property, the assaults on many people, including Law Enforcement officers, needs to stop. It takes away from the message.
On Friday, June 12 a 27-year-old black man named Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by Atlanta police. This continued to fuel the narrative of police brutality against people of color.
People are protesting and rioting daily and the messages are disappearing. It started with wanting police reform, then defunding the police, creating a mini country in Seattle called “CHAZ”, later changed to CHOP. St. John’s Episcopal Church, also known as the church of the presidents, was burned. We now see the continuation of statue removal and vandalism. It’s gotten to the point that people have vandalized Ulysses S. Grant’s statue. He was the General who defeated the south and later became president. He continued his fight against inequality while in office his two terms.
BLM was a movement started in 2013 by Opal Tometi with love for what many called a hate crime, the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. It was locally and federally investigated and found that it was in fact self-defense. Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza became leaders because the hashtag was a good name and a good call to action. Many of BLM’s protests issues were debunked. Still I believe it had an honorable start but was later co-opted by socialists and Marxists. The leaders are admittedly Marxists. In a 2015 interview Patrisse Cullors stated, “Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories,” adding that the group’s founders sought to “build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk.”
The newest figure to appear in leadership is the often outspoken and charismatic figure Shaun King. King has been involved in many questionable activities regarding his fundraising efforts for victims of crimes and has also been involved in falsely accusing state troopers of raping a woman until body cams provided evidence to the contrary. King has done some good for others but is a very controversial person. His most recent comments regard the statuary of “White Jesus” in some churches. Kings Twitter account posted this: “Yes, I think the statues of the white European they claim is Jesus should also come down. They are a form of white supremacy…Always have been. In the Bible, when the family of Jesus wanted to hide, and blend in, guess where they went? EGYPT! Not Denmark. Tear them down!”
Jesus wasn’t a Caucasian, he was Jewish with more than likely an olive complexion.
We’ve seen people first want to erase history with the removal of Confederate Statues. Then some groups wanted to tear down statues of our founding fathers. Even Columbus has been ostracized and his statue removal called for. Now King is calling not for the removal of statues of Jesus and his mother Mary, but for people to “tear them down.”
BLM was I believe originally founded with a pure purpose; I believe this has been taken over by Marxists who wish to tear down not only statuary but wish to tear apart America at any cost. They are telling us what they are planning. They are doing what they say. Is this about crimes against race or is it about control? We are being controlled by the media and they are saying we are divided. I agree with the proper enforcement of laws, judiciously. Equal rights for all. We know racism exists but we are the freest society in the world with the most opportunity. There have been policies put in place in the past that have assisted in creating wealth inequality. Even in the 40’s and 50’s under Jim Crow laws the African American community was building wealth much more than today. There are many issues we need to address and fortunately we are making continued strides to solve them.
Antifa, supposedly an anti-fascist movement has been identified in many of the riots rocking our nation. Involved in burning police cars, businesses, and tearing down statues. The problem is that they aren’t discriminant in which statues they wish to deface or remove. They have vandalized George Washington, Christopher Columbus and Ulysses S. Grant. A Texas Ranger Statue called “One Riot, One Ranger” was torn down in Dallas. They’ve vandalized a statue of Juan Ponce de Leon, even a statue of outspoken abolitionist Matthias Baldwin and John Greenleaf Whittier, who published the antislavery pamphlet “Justice and Expediency.” He was a founding member of the American Anti-Slavery Society and signed the Anti-Slavery declaration of 1833. Some have considered this to be the climax to his life’s work. Even these have been defaced and damaged. So really, what is the agenda?
In a pair of statements, Attorney General William Barr described “antifa-like tactics” by out-of-state agitators and said Antifa was instigating violence and engaging in “domestic terrorism” and would be dealt with accordingly. Now Antifa frequently comes out during these protests and causes havoc and attempts to incite hatred. Funding is varied but many speculate billionaire George Soros is a primary source. In December of 2016, OCAD (organized communities against deportation) hosted a protest in Chicago to defund the police according to an article posted on the website of #not1more. Other activist groups participating in the protest were the “Black Youth Project,” “Fearless Leading the Youth,” “Palestinian Youth in Action,” “Centro Autonomo,” “Peoples Response Team,” and the “Chicago Religious Leadership Network.”
There have been sweeping changes in our country in part due to activists bringing issues to the forefront of our attention. Some of the changes recently are the “First Step Act” which shortens mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. Beyond sentencing reform, the First Step Act includes provisions that will improve conditions for current prisoners and address several laws that increased racial disparities in the federal prison system from the “Crime Bill” enacted during the Clinton administration in 1994. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis, the USA had the lowest unemployment numbers in the history of our nation with wages climbing. There has also been historic funding for predominately black colleges.
It is time to stop the violence, it is time to stop the hate. Defunding or abolishing the police and ICE would have such a horrible effect on our society as a whole. It would send us back a 150 years. The people have been successful in their protests, but if it continues to go on they risk the loss of empathy they’ve gained from the world, let alone the politicians.
The President of the United States of America has heard the protesters. Municipal and state governments have heard the protesters. The White house has issued an executive order outlining many reforms, checks and balances and things that can help.
The issue with executive orders is the reforms asked for must be implemented at the local and state level. The federal government’s main function is to “ensure justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” (Source: Preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America)
Only the federal government can regulate interstate and foreign commerce, declare war and set taxing, spending and other national policies. These actions often start with legislation from Congress, made up of the 435-member House of Representatives and the 100-member U.S. Senate. The president or executive branch will sign legislation into law or can veto it. The President is also the Commander and Chief of the USA’s armed forces. The third branch of our government is the judicial and they are there to determine the constitutionality of laws.
I understand racism exists. It is an evil that should be called out on all sides. There is no magic pill to make it disappear. We can only strive together as brothers and sisters to overcome it. I love my town, I love my community. Love and peace are the strongest weapons we can use to affect change.
I wish to conclude by congratulating Natchitoches and all of Louisiana. You have shown the world that you can make your voices heard. You can effect change. You did it mostly with love and patience. Peace, love and blessings to all.
The views and opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Natchitoches Parish Journal. If you have an article or story of interest for publishing consideration by the NPJ, please send it to NPJNatLa@gmail.com