George Floyd Mattered, Just Not To The Legacy Media
There is no question that George Floyd's death was murder. There is no doubt that Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin had no business kneeling on his neck. There is no doubt that George Floyd's death was an appalling example of police brutality.
Because George Floyd was black and Derek Chauvin is white, many argue that Floyd's death is also an example of inexecusable racism within the Minneapolis Police Department itself. Certainly there have been few facts to rebut that particular charge, although the extent to which racial animus played a role cannot be conclusively established with facts currently available to the public.
How many of those facts will ultimately be made public is a question still to be answered, for once again the legacy media has displayed its usual incompetence, indolence, and indifference to journalism, choosing instead to push narrative, with or without facts.
The facts we have come largely from the one of the few competent bits of legacy media coverage of the event, courtesy of Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO.
Around 8PM on Monday, May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police were called to Cup Foods, a take-out delicatessen in south-central Minneapolis, whose owners apparently believed George Floyd tried to make a purchase with a counterfeit $20 bill.
According to Minneapolis police, the encounter between Floyd and officers happened just after 8 p.m. Monday, when police were called to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a man attempting to use forged documents at Cup Foods. WCCO asked a store manager about the police call, but they declined to comment.
Officers found Floyd in a car at the scene. He appeared intoxicated, police say. Officers ordered him to get out of the car.
Police officers, including Derek Chauvin, took Floyd into custody. During the arrest, the officers lost control of the situation, with the result that, even though George Floyd had been handcuffed, Office Chauvin ended up kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd later died at Hennepin Healthcare after being transported by ambulance.
That Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd's neck is one of the facts we have, for a by-stander, Darnella Frazier, posted a video of the incident on her Facebook page later that night. Video stills from the footage are both unmistakable and damning.
Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck.
Even more disturbing, Derek Chauvin used his full body weight.
The medical dangers of such a maneuver are amply documented, and, as the State of Minnesota would assert when charging Chauvin in Floyd's death, kneeling on the neck is not an approved police restraint tactic by the Minneapolis Police Department.
Here, the media's concern for the facts ends, and their reflexive emphasis on narrative reasserts itself.
Unsurprisingly, Minneapolis residents quickly began protesting Floyd's death. Equally unsurprisingly, government officials from Governor Tom Waltz on down to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, expressed sorrow, anger, and even outrage. Sadly but also unsurprisingly, attention quickly zeroed in on the fact that George Floyd was a black man, and Derek Chauvin was a white police officer (he was fired shortly after the incident).
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey said. “What we saw is horrible, completely and utterly messed up.”
At the same time, a peaceful protest began at the location of the incident, culminating in a march towards the police precinct station for that neighborhood.
Protesters began gathering at the scene of Floyd’s encounter with police Tuesday afternoon, with hundreds joining in before the crowd began to march towards Minneapolis Police’s 3rd Precinct, which is about two miles north of the scene.
As happens all too often when people seek redress from police brutality, the protest escalated.
Police in riot gear started making a barrier around the precinct at about 7:30 p.m. as protesters began to swarm. One video shows some protesters sitting on the ground, while officers deployed smoke bombs or tear gas and flash grenades. Other videos show protesters smashing squad cars, precinct windows, and throwing bricks and rocks. The protest carried on into the late night.
While the destruction of police property is hardly peaceful protest, this demonstration at least had the saving grace of focusing its anger on the police themselves. Subsequent events would not retain even that modicum of principle.
From Protest To Riot
The following night's protests quickly devolved into a general riot targeting no longer the police but the businesses surrounding the precinct. CNN, along with the rest of the legacy media, sought to minimize the shift, intimating the violence was somehow a natural "transition" of events.
On Wednesday night, Minneapolis' second day of protests transitioned to rioting and looting south of downtown, with people smashing their way into stores and setting businesses and other buildings ablaze.
CNN also shamefully leveraged Floyd's family to promote the demonstrably false trope that police systemically target and kill black men.
One of Floyd's brothers cried Thursday morning as he said his family wants protests to be peaceful, but stressed people are struggling with seeing another black man die following a police encounter, this one over the passing of an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill at a store.
CNN rather pointedly overlooks that, as studies have shown, significantly more white men than black men are killed by the police.
As researchers are quick to point out, FBI data on police shootings by race is notoriously incomplete, which may explain why Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, decided to use figures from the website Killed by Police.
Based on that data, Mr. Moskos reported that roughly 49 percent of those killed by officers from May 2013 to April 2015 were white, while 30 percent were black. He also found that 19 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were Asian and other races.
The insistent injection of race by the media obscures the fact that police officers around the country condemn Derek Chauvin's behavior.
"There hasn't been one person, one police chief, anyone I've talked to, who doesn't see this exactly the same way. The police officer and those who were there that day failed George Floyd," said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement-oriented think tank based in Washington. "Every police officer that looked at that video who knows anything about tactics shook their head."
Nor is this a recent evolution in police thinking. Justice Department guidelines for restraining suspects has been clear on this point since at least 1995.
A Justice Department bulletin issued in 1995 warned that the technique can cause sudden death. "A person lying on his stomach has trouble breathing when pressure is applied to his back," it said. The advice: "As soon as the person is handcuffed, get him off his stomach."
Whether or not Derek Chauvin had any racial animus towards George Floyd is not known, but racial animus is not needed to establish that Chauvin's actions in this incident were not only dangerous, but well outside established police procedures adopted by virtually every police department in the United States. The media's reflexive insistence on making this a racial issue obscures the much larger issue of police officers failing to follow rules and guidelines put in place to safeguard both people's lives as well as their civil liberties.
Moreover, nationwide police disavowal of Derek Chauvin significantly undercuts any claim that police are systemically targeting blacks. While there are police officers who violate rules and even break the law in their dealings with black Americans, the data simply does not support the media trope that all cops target black people.
Where the media have truly become unhinged is in covering the rapid spread of riots and civil disturbances to other cities, all somehow in reaction to George Floyd's death.
This is how the Washington Post summed up the nationwide turn of events:
America’s persistent political dysfunction and racial inequality were laid bare this week, as the coronavirus death toll hit a tragic new milestone and as the country was served yet another reminder of how black people are killed by law enforcement in disproportionately high numbers. Together, the events present a grim tableau of a nation in crisis — one seared by violence against its citizens, plagued by a deadly disease that remains uncontained and rattled by a devastating blow to its economy.
That "racial inequality" includes the destruction of black-owned businesses such as the sports bar almost ready to be opened by Korboi Balla.
Minneapolis firefighter Korboi "KB" Balla says his dream was always to open a sports bar, something he almost achieved after "countless hours" working on the project.
His initial open date in March had to be pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic. He was ready to finally open his doors in June, but that plan came to a crashing halt when rioters destroyed his business on Wednesday.
When riots presumably catalyzed by the death of a black man result in the willful destruction of other black lives as well as black-owned property, "racial inequality" is not the problem. Fundamental lack of respect for the rule of law and for the rights of one's neighbors is the problem.
Yet as the riots have spread across the country, the media has persisted in downplaying the violence, persistently characterizing events as mere "protests", as this lede from Deadline demonstrates.
The nation’s streets were filled with protesters Friday night, as angry reaction to the death of George Floyd continued to spread to at least 30 major US cities.
Floyd died in Minneapolis police custody on Monday, and a day later activists began protests in that city. Things have since escalated there and elsewhere throughout the nation, with some locations seeing angry people attacking police and damaging cars trapped on freeways. Authorities are bracing for more as the weekend unfolds.
The destruction of property in Nashville was a riot, not a protest.
Dallas was a riot not a protest.
Beating store owners practically to death is a riot, not a protest.
Where Is George Floyd?
Missing from both the riots and the legacy media accounts of them is any serious connection between the violence and George Floyd's death. The media makes a token mention of George Floyd's name at the beginning of their reporting, and then proceeds as if that were sufficient to link the riots to Floyd's death.
George Floyd was not in Los Angeles, nor Seattle, nor Nashville, nor Dallas, nor any of the other cities engulfed in riots purportedly in response to his death. Yet somehow violence in all these cities is to be excused because of his death.
Ironically, Houston, the one city with a definitive connection to George Floyd, as he was a native of the city's Third War, has been relatively peaceful, with protests only sporadically turning violent.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner implored protesters to remain respectful in airing their frustrations over the death of former Third Ward resident George Floyd, as an initially peaceful demonstration splintered off into groups that blocked highway entrances and threw objects at officers Friday evening.
Moreover, the media never addresses an essential question: how does looting a Target or burning down a Wendy's achieve any justice for George Floyd, or indeed any victim of police brutality? How does arson and murder of people with no connection either to George Floyd or the Minneapolis Police Department bring about any positive change?
The answer is both short and obvious: the riots do not bring either justice or positive change.
The riots are not about George Floyd. The riots are simply thuggish people behaving thuggishly, and using the tragedy of Floyd's death to justify their thuggish behavior.
Narrative Is All That Matters
To the legacy media, however, narrative trumps reality, and the legacy media's chosen narrative for George Floyd's death is race. Thus we get CNN's Don Lemon's execrable illogic suggesting that all white people are somehow responsible for George Floyd's death:
Later on in the monologue, Lemon claimed, “To stop this, it is incumbent on people who hold the power in this society to help to do that. To do the heavy lifting. And guess who that is? Who is that, Chris?”
“White people,” replied Cuomo
This, of course, is pure nonsense. Yes, police departments must address the bad and sometimes criminal behavior of rogue police officers. Police departments must take action when officers cross the line, whether out of racial animus or for any other reason.
What Don Lemon failed to acknowledge is that even Minneapolis' lamentable Mayor as well as Minnesota's governor did not hesitate to condemn Derek Chauvin. President Trump in similar vein asked the FBI and the Department of Justice to expedite their investigations into Floyd's death.
Don Lemon is so intent on pushing the narrative that he ignores the reality that no one thinks George Floyd's death is anything but wrong. Police officers condemn it. Governor Waltz condemned it. Mayor Jacob Frey condemned it. The rioters are attacking people who actually agree with them.
The legacy media does not care about such inconvenient truths, because they weaken the narrative.
Nor does legacy media care that innocent people are hurt and killed by people "standing up" against "racism", or that many of those hurt are themselves black.
Contrary to the simplistic narratives of the legacy media, it is possible for people to hold two ideas in their head at the same time. We can be outraged at George Floyd's death and be outraged at the rampant violence being done in his name.
We can call out the thugs who use any excuse to prey upon their neighbors without excusing thuggish police officers.
We can demand police officers be held to account for their crimes while demanding rioters and looters be held to account for theirs.
Above all, we can recognize that because George Floyd's death is inexcusable and unacceptable, so too must the looting and violence done in his name be inexcusable and unacceptable.
This is not a simplistic question of race, but a fundamental question of right conduct and wrong conduct. Right conduct means standing up for the rights of others. Wrong conduct means victimizing others and disregarding those same rights.
To make George Floyd's death matter, people must focus on right conduct and condemn wrong conduct on all sides. To do otherwise is tantamount to saying that George Floyd's death does not matter--and that is itself wrong conduct.
The legacy media only calls out the wrong conduct that augments its chosen narrative, and ignores both the right and wrong conducts that contradict that narrative. By so doing, the legacy media has taken the position that George Floyd's death does not matter to them. That is unquestionably and inexcusably wrong conduct.
None of which matters to the legacy media. All of which must matter to everyone else.