Systemic Police Brutality

Bill Neinast

This will be the football game of the century.  Look!, the players are already on the field.  But wait a minute.  There are 22 players in uniform out there but they are all quarterbacks.  How can there be a game when more than 90% of the players—or, in this case, the facts—are absent?

So pull up your favorite chair for quarterbacking and join the game.  Then like all armchair quarterbacks, begin calling the game without all the facts.

This unique game is Justice for George Floyd.  One of the goals is to replace Doctor Martin Luther King as the symbol of justice and civil rights with Floyd.

So who is George Floyd?  He is a criminal with a long rap sheet.  He has been convicted nine times of crimes including theft and possession and sale of drugs.  The most serious of the offenses is an aggravated robbery.  

In the robbery case, he was sentenced to five years in prison for leading three other men in an invasion of a woman’s home by holding a pistol to her stomach. He had one of the other men hold the woman hostage while he and the other two ransacked the house and stole valuables.

Floyd is a large man whose sometime employment was as a bouncer at a bar.  Could that mean that his appearance might have been somewhat intimidating?

Now none of this excuses or justifies the brutal murder of George Floyd.  But does that murder by some bad policemen excuse or justify vilifying all law enforcement officials and the pillaging, looting, and destruction of millions of dollars worth of property? 

The current protests, demonstrations, riots, or whatever you choose to call them, are premised on unsupported beliefs and assumptions.  Among these false beliefs are that there is systemic racism in all law enforcement organizations,  that there is a disproportionate number of African-Americans killed by police, and, worst of all, that city police departments should be defunded.

Remember those misconceptions as you consider these statistics from an Op-ed piece in the Townhall web site.  

“In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of Black victims is less than what the Black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commited about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.

“The police fatally shot nine unarmed Blacks and 19 unarmed Whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines ‘unarmed’ broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 Black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed Black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a Black male than an unarmed Black male is to be killed by a police officer.

“The latest in a series of studies undercutting the claim of systemic police bias was published in August 2019 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers found that the more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that a member of that group will be fatally shot by a police officer. There is ‘no significant evidence of antiblack disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by police,’ they concluded.”

So here’s the perspective.

Why was George Floyd murdered?  Did officer Derek Chauvin know him and his rap sheet? Had Chauvin had prior contact or problems with Floyd?

None of this matters.  What Chauvin did is inexcusable.  This makes him a “bad cop” and he will have to answer for it in criminal court.

This does not mean, however, that all officers are racists and bad and that they should be defunded.

There will be some changes in police procedures, such as a new rule in some department to prohibit choke holds.  There will also be men and women of all races and ethnicity who continue to commit serious crimes. Some of those will result in law enforcement officers using delay force to gain control.

So, Mr. Armchair Quarterback, now that you have some facts, what play are you going to call?   Are you going to condemn all law enforcement officers as racists or give them a pat on the back for doing a good job in a dangerous profession?  



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