Local View: The real issue: we the American people
The issue is: George Floyd appeared intoxicated and was attempting to pass counterfeit currency. A store clerk called 911 and the police responded.
The issue is: The police who responded had a history of reported abuses and misconduct. They can be considered “bad” cops, the lower rung of the police force. The failure of police commissioners, mayors, and civilian oversight groups to remove these problem officers put their communities at risk for safety and financial loss to cover costly litigation.
The issue is: One of those responding officers, by video evidence, appeared to kill George Floyd, and is so charged. The other three officers, through their inaction to stop what was happening, were either derelict in their duty or accomplices to a crime. They must be held accountable.
The issue is: People have taken to protest. Peacefully. That is their constitutional right. However, our country has a poor track record for injustices being corrected by peaceful means. From our own violent revolution where our Founding Fathers threw off the bonds of a despot king to our civil war, women's suffrage, labor reform, and the civil rights movement, we have been slow to learn that the outcome to repeated injustices is anarchy.
The issue is: There are those our media falsely label as protesters who loot and destroy property. They are criminals. They are opportunists who look to take advantage of a situation for personal gain. There is no statement made by burning an innocent family’s business or stealing their possessions.
The issue is: Central to the protest outcries is the continued violation of constitutional rights through excessive police force and brutality. No one can argue that a suspect in a crime should be allowed to go free if they put up sufficient fight. However, when they surrender, it does not give law enforcement the right to interject their own form of punishment.
The issue is: The courts have road-blocked justice in cases of excessive police force and suspected criminal behavior. The Supreme Court, in a 1982 ruling, created what is called the “qualified immunity” doctrine. This ruling was put in place to prevent government employees from being sued for their actions unless clearly established laws were broken. The problem is, there are no clearly established laws regarding what constitutes excessive force. And police officers know this.
The issue is: Protests have been significant around the White House. Although the Justice Department falls under the jurisdiction of the president, protesters fail to realize it is the judicial branch of our government that created this problem, and Congress has failed to enact the laws required to fix it. The American people, in general, do not understand how our government works.
The issue is: Congress has failed, and continues to fail, in fixing the problems created by the qualified immunity doctrine. The American people have failed to bring their protests to Congress. They have failed to vote out those legislators who do not act to fix the problem.
The issue is: The media, with its sensationalized and biased reporting, does more to fan the fires of destruction than to present facts and identify reasonable options to fix problems. If you want the social Democratic spin with half-truths, you turn to CNN. If you want the conservative Republican spin with half-truths, you turn to Fox News. If you’re the younger generation, you turn to social media, where fiction trumps fact.
The issue is: Americans in general thrive on sensationalized news. And the media feeds that hunger. However, to fix a problem requires factual knowledge of the problem. Only then can a solution present itself and can energy be efficiently expended to accomplish such.
All too often it is easier to sit back and watch something burn. And when the fire goes out, we turn our attention to the next media sensation.
The issue is: the American people.
Dave Crockett of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, owns engineering firms in Arizona and Michigan; is politically active; and is currently on sabbatical, working at Cirrus Aircraft in Duluth.