ON A PERSONAL NOTE/By Maramis
There are many issues involved in the now historic homicide death of George Floyd on this Memorial Day past. First and foremost will always be the fact that he was deliberately and knowingly kept in the restraint position of having a knee on his neck and throat by a police officer who knew what he was doing and continued with that restraint action even beyond the point of Floyd’s death.
There were three other officers involved in that situation, whether as witnesses or would-be backup, and while at least one might have brought the extreme restraint situation to the attention of the one using his knee, he did not go further and try to stop him. The others did not do anything to stop him either. (There may well have been extenuating circumstances, such as the one in charge having the most seniority and the most experience and being the training officer of two of the other officers, yet regardless of that fact, one cannot ignore the accepting behavior of those other officers who could likely have saved that man’s life.)
While there may have been other instances of counterfeit money being passed at that convenience store, the police never got that involved before. Usually, they would just try to find out where the person passing the bill might have gotten it, assuming they did not even know it was counterfeit. This time, obviously, they broke with tradition.
It is true that George Floyd was a big man, 6 ft. 6 inches, and very hefty, yet once he was down and in handcuffs he was subdued; and couple that with one, two, or three officers being on top of him, he would not in any way need the additional restraint of a knee on his neck.
Once George could no longer breathe—and he told them so, but the knee stayed put, as though the police officer had no regard for his life — he died as a direct result of that restraint assault.
That’s when everything else that was wrong with this event started to go into full swing. There are far too many videos and interviews of those who were there to watch and listen to them all, but there is not one that I heard or saw that alluded to the police “just doing their job.” This tragedy seemed to be the straw that broke the community’s — and the country’s — back.
We all know that this is not about a black man that needed extra restraint. This is about a black man that might have needed some restraint, but could have gotten a black man’s dose of restraint because of the mindset of the police officer restraining him, or so it was immediately believed by the country at large. And this is not the first time something like this happened. In fact, it is because it happens all too frequently that it was the last straw. Just saying this has got to stop never does the job, but taking a stand may well do the trick, and this time around there has been much more than a stand taken.
Unfortunately, the “stand” turned into a nightmare once outsiders used it as an opportunity or excuse to riot and loot the town. We can only hope that no one who actually lived in that town was doing the looting. No one in his right mind who lives there would destroy the very stores that they need to serve them. Yet the looters not only destroyed the stores, but at a time when stores were just getting ready to start reopening after being closed for so long. Would the local residents really take out their anger on the very stores that only existed to serve them? It makes no sense. But then mob anger and mob violence never makes sense and never solves problems.
Nor does it make any sense that in their anger toward the police and that “last straw” episode in which George Floyd died that taking out that anger on innocent bystanders or business-owners would appease their anger or serve their purpose. Destroying a town and hurting or killing anyone in it does not address the issue of what the police officer did. Anger is one thing; directing it in the wrong direction or toward the wrong people will never make the point. In fact we could even say that such a reaction, in a grown person, is really an expression of ignorance.
Anyone can understand anger and the feeling of “We’re not gonna take it anymore!” but if those very people, the ones who harbored feelings for or about George Floyd and are determined to get justice once and for all regarding how they feel blacks are being treated at the hands of the police, really are the ones who ran rampant and destroyed businesses and other property and even killed a retired law officer, and a black man at that, all I can say is that as a mob (which is the only way to describe a large number of people who band together to destroy in the name of anger and hatred) they let that mob mentality rule over their common sense and sense of decency and humanity and possibly even override their ostensibly-stated sense of justice for
I am absolutely and unequivocally against unnecessary police violence. I am even more strongly against violence against any person who happens to fall into a category that some people (including some police officers) cannot and will not accept as human beings: categories such as gays, this religion or that one, one nationality or another, and… is it any surprise? Blacks. Of course there are those who are racist against whites, but as a rule, that is not an issue of great concern, in this column anyway.
My point is that anyone who thinks it’s okay to be taken into custody at the hands of an abusive and/or racist police officer might just as well prepare for his journey to the other side because it might be the last journey they make. My best suggestions for lessening this situation are: 1) Before a candidate gets accepted for the police academy, they must be given a battery of tests to weed out the candidates hiding their inner rage, hate, or racial proclivities. It is no guarantee that some good actors won’t slip through, but it could cut down on a lot of police officers getting in that are looking for a chance to use their position and power for other than the good of the community. 2) This one I mentioned before, and it is somewhat sad, but black fathers need to educate their black children about not resisting the police and not doing anything to call attention to themselves that would require the intervention of the police.
This is not to say that that’s the way I think life should be; unfortunately, until people truly feel that we are all brothers and
sisters, and blacks do not feel more singled out than whites when it comes to how they are automatically treated by the police, parents must do all they can to keep their children from suffering needless abuse and even possible death at the hands of police.
And this is also not to say that I think such behavior on the part of police is the norm. We all know that such abuse is not dished out only at the hands of the police so it is ignorant to pretend that getting rid of the police would get rid of the problem. But police do need to police themselves if they wish to have a better overall image; and black parents do need to police their children (from an early age) to avoid being a target of any kind for such police on the lookout.
Taking a stand means actually doing something to help change the outcome.
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.