This article was originally posted on JimStroud.com.
The biggest news over the past week has been concerning the death of George Floyd. Here is a quote from Wikipedia, with my own links added in.
One week ago today, George Floyd, an African American man, died in Powderhorn, a neighborhood south of downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota United States. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds; according to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, 2 minutes and 53 seconds of that time occurred after Floyd became unresponsive. Video of the incident hit the internet, spread across social media and has been shown ad nauseum throughout mainstream media.
One of the videos capturing the event showed Floyd repeating “Please”, “I can’t breathe” [Viewer warning], “Mama”, and “Don’t kill me.” After Floyd’s death, demonstrations and protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area were initially peaceful on May 26, but later that day became violent as windows were smashed at a police precinct, two stores were set on fire, and many stores were looted and damaged Some demonstrators skirmished with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. Additional protests developed in over 100 cities throughout all 50 states in the United States, as well as internationally.
Since the incident took place, Derek Chauvin has been charged with murder and his wife has filed for divorce. In a sense, justice has been served and the righteous anger addressed. Yet, riots, looting and civil unrest persists. What will happen in the resulting aftermath? What will change? For one, more people will suffer for months, even years as businesses already struggling from Covid-19 after effects literally evaporate in smoke. Moreover, so many more workers will be unemployed during the highest unemployment rate in our nation’s history.
A secondary concern, is the resurgence of coronavirus cases as the social distancing narrative repeated in the mainstream media feels wholly abandoned. Which makes me wonder (1) the severity of the virus when there is so little alarm being echoed in the media about it now and (2) if the reporting of the media on matters of such importance can be suspect, can I ever truly trust them? This is not to suggest that any organization maintained by humans can be infallible. It is to say, this event and others like it have caused me to further research what I hear on TV, read online and what I pass on in social media.
A third concern that I have seen building momentum in alternative media, is a hidden agenda being perpetrated on the public; fanning racial hatred towards some nefarious end. One piece of evidence towards that claim being pallets of bricks placed in the pathways of protestors where no construction has been taken place. Its as if someone wanted to use the George Floyd protests to encourage discord in America.
All of these concerns and more have been running through my mind and more. I do not have any answers and the more I ponder these things and research, the more questions arise. I am sharing my random thoughts and questions here with the hope that in your responses I can receive some form of enlightenment and direction on how to perceive all of what has been happening. Forgive me if my stream of consciousness is too meandering.
I THINK I SAW A MURDER. NOW, I’M NOT SO SURE.
When I watch the reporting of this incident, the storyline I tend to hear is that a racist cop arrested a black man and used excessive and unnecessary force when arresting him. (Spoiler alert: He did.) I saw the video of the incident and it looked like murder to me; as it did to the majority of people watching it. (I won’t post it here. Enough psychic damage has already occurred over it.) However, that was not the entire story and as it continues to develop, the more I realize how so many of us rushed to judgement.
- Derek Chauvin quite possibly knew George Floyd, they worked in the same nightclub for over a year.
- George Floyd was an adult entertainer under the stage name “Floyd the landlord” having made several explicit films. (There has been speculation about a potential connection concerning this. Jealousy? NSFW link)
- Four officers (total) were involved and all have been fired. Officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane participated in Floyd’s arrest, with Kueng holding Floyd’s back, Lane holding his legs, and Thao looking on as he stood nearby.
- The preliminary findings of the autopsy reveal that George Floyd did not die from strangulation; despite what the video shows. The medical examiner found, “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxiation or strangulation” and further said, “Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
- A recent video revealing another angle of the event, seems to show George Floyd dropping and attempting to conceal bags of white powder. (If true, this backs up the coroner’s findings.)
To be clear, I am not playing the devil’s advocate. In my view, all of the officers involved should be punished to the fullest extent of the law with Chauvin suffering the harshest of all penalties. Whether he strangled George Floyd to death and that alone killed him or, whether Floyd died from a combination of drugs, pre-existing conditions AND choking, what remains consistently clear is that Floyd was unjustly handled during his arrest.
That being said, I support the righteous anger of the protesters but condemn the violence perpetrated on the good police trying to maintain order. I strongly disapprove of the looters using this occasion to destroy property and ransack businesses; many such enterprises being black-owned; such actions dishonor the memory of the fallen. And such misjudgment is all the more reprehensible when perpetrated by the rich, for their personal amusement.
WHAT IS TRUE? WHAT IS FALSE?
When the news of this broke, many people began reporting that racism was endemic within all police organizations, largely categorizing them as storm troopers imposing their draconian authority over helpless citizens. Even if I had not grown up with policemen in my life or had the privilege to enjoy the friendship of officers since, I would not have believed that. I have always seen them wholly as heroes albeit, with some bad apples among them. No different than any other organization run by fallible human beings. Still, all the recent fervor in the media did cause me to wonder a few things and research answers; all leading me to even more questions. My first question being, why are so many black people being harassed by so many white people? If I am to believe what I tend to hear from the news, this is an unfortunate reality of being black in America. Yet, I found contrary evidence.
INTERRACIAL CRIME IS HAPPENING, BUT NOT LIKE I THOUGHT
When it comes to interracial crime involving white and black people, more often than not, black people commit more crimes against white people. Listen to this quote from the book, “Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War.”
There is an astonishing level of consensus, at least among scholars, on the fact that almost all of the interracial crime that does occur in the United States is POC-on-white. In the representative year of 2008, 429,000 Black-on-white violent crimes and only 91,000 white-on-Black violent crimes were recorded by the FBI, and the proportional breakdown of interracial offenses by race was nearly identical during 2012 and 2015.
Anti-racist activist Tim Wise, who provided the figures just given, thus estimates that 82.5 percent of interracial crime involving Blacks and Whites is black-on-white crime.
And another interesting quote from renowned columnist – Heather Mac Donald, who quoted Bureau of Justice Statistics’ 2018 survey on criminal victimization which basically said black on white crime was increasing.
Just this month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its 2018 survey of criminal victimization. According to the study, there were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations (excluding homicide) between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90 percent, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10 percent. That ratio is becoming more skewed, despite the Democratic claim of Trump-inspired white violence. In 2012-13, blacks committed 85 percent of all interracial victimizations between blacks and whites; whites committed 15 percent. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of white victims and the incidence of white victimization have grown as well.
Blacks are also overrepresented among perpetrators of hate crimes—by 50 percent—according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24 percent. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
Now when I read those articles and others like them, my eyebrows lifted; not only because of the interracial crime numbers, but the black on black crime rates as well. Homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, and 90% of black murder victims are killed by other blacks (not other white people). Why is there so much black on black crime? There are a lot of theories but, I tend to agree with economist Thomas Sowell who pointed out “…before the 1960s “most black children were raised in two-parent families.” In 2013, over 72 percent of blacks were born out of wedlock.” That being said, until two-parent families make a comeback, I think the trend will continue. But, I digress. Interracial crime is happening, increasing even, but it is not the way the masses believe. It is certainly not being reported this way in the media. Why is that?
Consider this scenario, imagine a black police officer confronts an unarmed black suspect and uses excessive force upon them; the very same chokehold that so many believe killed George Floyd. Would there be a public outcry concerning that? No, as this recent news story proves. Why is that?
Let’s take it a step further and suppose that a black police officer shoots an unarmed white man. For good measure, let’s say the video goes viral. Would there be a public outcry in that instance? No, as this video also proves. Why is that?
I don’t have an answer for this but it makes me wonder. Are these incidents a matter of race or police training or simply bad hiring? What about the way police approach people of color? Does it happen as often and as heinous as it is often reported in the news? I wanted to find studies to back what I have always heard concerning police in black neighborhoods.
IS THERE EQUAL APPLICATION OF FORCE IN POLICE ENCOUNTERS?
I looked at data about interracial crime from the perpetrator’s viewpoint but, what are the findings concerning how police tend to respond to African Americans. That’s not so cut and dry as I found several studies arguing 2 points of view, either police are more violent towards African Americans because of racial prejudice or, African Americans tend to be more violent during encounters with police so extra force is justified. I won’t cite every study I reviewed, just offer a few highlights.
- A study by a University of California, Davis professor found “evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average.”
- An independent analysis of Washington Post data on police killings found that, “when factoring in threat level, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are, in fact, less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to the officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police.”
- In Chicago, a 2016 Police Accountability Task Force report found that “black and Hispanic drivers were searched approximately four times as often as white drivers, yet [the Chicago Police Department’s] own data show that contraband was found on white drivers twice as often as black and Hispanic drivers.”
And on the flip side…
- Research by a Washington State University professor found that, while shown video simulations, officers were less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects. They also took an extra 0.23 seconds, on average, before firing on black suspects in the simulations.
- And in a study, led by Michigan State University psychology professor Joseph Cesario, it was found that violent crime rates and the racial demographics of a given location are better indicators for determining a police killing victim’s race. (I thought that explanation made the most sense to me but, I am not an expert on police minority engagements.) Cesario said in a press release:
“Many people ask whether black or white citizens are more likely to be shot and why. If you live in a county that has a lot of white people committing crimes, white people are more likely to be shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of black people committing crimes, black people are more likely to be shot.”
And to add of that, consider something called “The Ferguson Effect,” which is when law enforcement officers are reluctant to use force, or stop and question people who seem suspicious as a result of increased scrutiny of police. The result of that being communities that are less safe; which is certainly true. So, which study is the most compelling? I don’t know, I’m still evaluating studies; among them, a study that says “…nonwhite [police] officers kill both black and Latino suspects at significantly higher rates than white officers.” But, I digress. I just have questions and this was the most disturbing one.
WHO IS TRYING TO DESTROY AMERICA WITH A RACE WAR?
Okay, America has its enemies, both foreign and domestic. Yet, there seems to be something special going on with these “protests.” Rioting and looting typically follows protests that turn violent after the crowd has been agitated to action by one outspoken critic or group. However, I have not seen anything quite like this. (Not even when I was researching my black history puzzle book.)
Much of the civil unrest it seems is not being perpetrated by community citizens but outside provocateurs, according to the mayor of Minnesota – Melvin Carter.
The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Interracial crime, police interactions and political intrigue will not all be resolved anytime soon, to my great chagrin. However, if it were to serve as a catalyst of positive long-lasting change, it would have all been worth it.
WHAT I WANT TO SEE NEXT
If there was a single magic bullet for fixing all of the issues cited herein, I would point to the church. When I think of the Civil Rights Movement, there were many factors intersecting at the church. Indeed, it was the heartbeat of the black community. While this may be an oversimplification of matters, please indulge me.
- At that time, families were stronger and black on black crime was at a minimum. When there was a deficit of male presence in the home, it was offset by the brothers at church. If the church was as influential now as it was then, black on black crime would be at historic lows.
- At that time, the community was closer, so negative intervention from outside forces was less likely. There was a belonging that negated yearnings fulfilled by less reputable affiliations (i.e. gangs). If the church was as influential now as it was then, the unified voice speaking against police brutality would echo louder and more consistently.
- At that time, politicians were held more accountable because the church monitored and reported on promises kept and the values they upheld; things remembered when the next election occurred. Today, a lot of lip service is given to the black community during the election season but how can the church influence positive progress in an age of waning attendance?
Our country has endured riots in the past. I dare say that without the church binding the black community then and throughout, there would have been even more riots in increasing severity and consistency. Some people would have me believe that the church is not an essential service. To put it mildly, I disagree. The church is needed more than ever. I hope that this is realized before the next incident of police brutality, the next series of lootings (in the guise of protest) and before the next concerted effort to sow discord undermines America.
Until then, I’ll keep praying.