One of the biggest stories in the news cycle this week is the murder of Minnesota resident George Floyd as a result of police brutality. Given the widespread attention that this story has gotten over the last few days, it’s likely that most people already know many of the details. However, with so much media attention surrounding the event, it’s easy to lose track of the facts.
The Facts Of George Floyd’s Murder
On Monday, George Floyd was allegedly attempting to use a forged check at a Minneapolis store. Police officers were called to the scene. According to video evidence that surfaced, four officers responded to take custody of Floyd, who did not resist arrest. But despite Floyd’s compliance, the recording shows that the officers immediately began using excessive force.
The graphic and shocking video shows one of the officers, later identified as Derek Chauvin, pinning Floyd to the ground, pressing his knee into the back of his neck. Chauvin sat there on Floyd’s neck for nearly seven minutes, even as bystanders begged him to stop and Floyd pleaded for his life repeatedly, saying, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd died at the hospital later that night after being taken into custody.
Make no mistake: this incident is sickening, regardless of what crimes Floyd may or may not have committed, especially given that he did not even attempt to resist arrest, nor did he pose danger to anyone around him. It is law enforcement’s job to apprehend suspects, not kill them. In this respect, these officers failed horribly.
The Minneapolis police department responded by immediately firing Chauvin and his partner, who bears partial responsibility for not intervening, as well as the other two officers who were present at the scene.
However, this action was not enough to appease the people of Minnesota. Peaceful protests broke out in the following days, but just as quickly, they devolved into violent riots by early Tuesday evening. Some protestors began throwing rocks and bricks at police, allegedly injuring one, which resulted in officers using flash grenades, pepper spray, and smoke bombs in self-defense. Additionally, nearby stores were looted and vandalized.
What The Media Wants You To Focus On
There are two more relevant facts to this situation, and it’s become the focal point of the entire situation. The suspect/victim, George Floyd, was black. Officer Derek Chauvin is white.
The media, along with civil rights activist groups, took this story and RAN with it, basing their analysis on allegations that this was a racially-motivated incident. However as of now, a mere three days after Floyd’s death, there is no evidence to support the claim that Chauvin killed Floyd because he is racist against blacks. There is also no proof to claim that Chauvin isn’t a racist, but that’s the entire point—it’s simply too early to accurately assess Chauvin’s motives.
The Inconvenient Truth About The Case
The true motivating factors behind this case cannot be decided simply based on the fact that a white officer killed a black man. A second inconvenient truth here is that white officers kill white men too. In fact, according to statistics, year after year, the vast majority of people who are shot to death by police are white.
But given the inflammatory nature of this incident, the racial aspect immediately became the focal point. Influential black figures like anti-police rapper Ice Cube and NAACP President Bishop Talbert Swan both immediately took the chance to politicize Floyd’s death. They both tweeted a photo of a man, apparently Derek Chauvin, wearing a MAGA-style red hat that reads “Make Whites Great Again.”
Here is Derek Chauvin, the racist cop who kept his knee on #GeorgeFloyd’s neck, cut off his air passage and murdered him, wearing a “Make Whites Great Again” hat, a clear sign that this piece of excrement should’ve been taken off the streets a long time ago.#JusticeForFloyd pic.twitter.com/KxGxHAIzlH
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) May 27, 2020
— Ice Cube (@icecube) May 27, 2020
The only problem is that the photo doesn’t actually depict Chauvin.
The photo was fact-checked by Snopes and several journalists, all of whom determined it to be false. According to the Daily Caller, the man pictured is allegedly a longtime internet troll who has been known to pose as someone controversial individuals in the past.
But despite that, the damage was already done. Ice Cube and Bishop Swan have yet to retract or apologize for their tweets, which got more than 100,000 likes and 47,000 retweets combined. Community leaders like them, the media, and prominent Democrats are misleading the black community, convincing them that racist white Trump-supporters are out to kill black people. That is a dangerously false notion.
Race-baiting only causes more division, making one race feel like it’s under attack, and causing the other to live in fear. First, this is not fair to either race. Furthermore, it should spark outrage that we are all being fed misinformation intended to determine our political leanings.
But as it pertains to Floyd, the black community is justified in being infuriated at his death. Everyone, regardless of race, should be similarly angry because police brutality is a major problem.
It is never acceptable for someone from law enforcement to do what Chauvin did. It is a known problem that some policemen—not all, but some—aren’t equipped to handle their authority. Brutality doesn’t have to be “racially-motivated” to make it wrong. Take race out of the picture here and it is still a disgusting abuse of power, resulting in the murder of a man who should still be alive today.