The unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis outraged millions and sparked protests around the country. The initial videos of the way police acted convinced most who saw it that while one officer was strangling a black man, two others stood by and did nothing to stop what was going on. That was understandable especially in light of the history of past incidents of police being perceived and branded as racists for their treatment of Black Americans.
The protests that followed were both natural enough and fully justified even if they began before it was revealed that Floyd wasn’t strangled, but that the stress he underwent as an officer kneeled on his neck put him under such stress that he suffered a heart attack and died. It was his pre-existing health problem that killed him, but the brutality of the officer triggered it. This is why the police and local prosecutors decided to charge him with third-degree murder and lesser though serious crimes even though the crowd was insisting he be prosecuted for intentionally murdering Floyd.
Given the volatility of the situation, Minneapolis officials should have moved more quickly to charge the officer even if it wasn’t to be for intentional murder. By waiting they gave those outraged by the incident reason to believe the crime committed by an officer with multiple previous complaints against him for mistreating men and women he had taken into custody were going to be ignored as they had been in the past.
None of that, however, can or should be seen as a reason or excuse for the violence that followed. Without in any way suggesting that the majority of those demonstrating in Minneapolis and the other cities to which the protests spread were either wrong in taking to the streets or complicit in what appears now to be the planned violence that followed, those officials who let it happen deserve as much blame as the radical activists who apparently used the protests as cover to foment violence.
Television’s talking heads quickly placed the blame not with the Minneapolis police, the city’s political leaders, but with “white America” and President Donald Trump. Presidential wannabe Joe Biden went so far as to pen a piece blaming the whole thing on the President’s hostility to China and the “racism” he insists it has engendered and pundits who have never even spent any time in Minnesota claimed the incident ripped the mask off the myth of “Minnesota Nice” to reveal the horrible truth about the place. (RELATED: Biden’s Blunder (In the Context of Minneapolis))
The truth is that the blame should be shared by the radical provocateurs who infiltrated a legitimate protest to turn it violent and the government officials who let them do so with virtual impunity while failing to take officer xxx shield away from him in 2002 when he was involved in the death of another black man. The county prosecutor at the time was now Senator Amy Klobuchar who delayed action in his case and as many as two dozen other cases in which people were killed in “encounters with police” according to the Washington Post. Action back then could have led to reforms that might well have prevented what happened to Floyd.
The riots revealed both the outrage at what happened in Minneapolis and the powder keg of frustration and mistrust the country has created in the first days of a hot summer by locking people down for months, destroying their jobs and telling them it has all been for their own good; something they should accept because, of course, they can trust their leaders to do the right thing.