Statement Regarding George Floyd

I have watched the entire George Floyd video and the security footage leading up to it. The videos are extremely upsetting. This is UNQUESTIONABLY a MURDER IN THE THIRD DEGREE under Minnesota law: “(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.” (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.195)

I’m sure his defense team will try to argue that George had some pre-existing medical thing happening, but this argument will fail because you can clearly hear George say “I cannot breathe” while there is a full grown adult males knee pressing down on his neck for much longer than a human can hold their breath, and this will be enough to show some causality.

From a legal perspective, I have never seen a more damming video of an arrest of a black man. Not only does this video capture George’s numerous pleads for help, but it also includes several people telling the police officers exactly what is going on. The officer with his knee on George only moves once, and that is to grab mace to point at the crowd. He keeps his knee on George long after George has stopped moving, which will also disprove any ‘restraining’ argument he may consider trying.

When you watch this video, you will see many people, of different races and genders, all, in their own way, asking the police to stop. A white woman runs on the scene and demands a pulse be taken. A shop owner says, on film, that he’s seen the whole thing and that it was the police who “did that to him.” One onlooker even says that a knee on the neck is not protocol: “I trained at the academy, and that’s bullshit, bro.” When an ambulance finally comes they don’t even put George on a neck stretcher.

This is just like Eric Garner, who never saw justice.

The idea that George was in any way a threat to an officer while George was handcuffed and screaming in pain on the ground, having been seen stumbling around on prior footage, is ludicrous.

Honestly, this looks to me like the police officer was reacting to the surrounding crowd challenging his authority, so he kept his knee pressed into George’s neck for at least 5 minutes, including when he was unresponsive, more or less to ‘prove a point.’

I know everyone is protesting, and that is needed. But I will say this again, this stuff is not going to change until there is MASSIVE new FEDERAL legislation. I know this because it was the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that finally began to change the status quo of Jim Crow. We are LONG OVERDUE for another civil rights act. The election is only 160 days away, and I can’t remember a time where we needed more change than now.

There are basically three very important things that need to get legislated at the federal level immediately:

(1) police database of use of force and greater transparency in reports logged against officers,

(2) stricter laws when police misuse force, and

(3) more standardized police regulation including community policing procedures, bias training, body-cam requirements, and more diversity in police forces.

There are two keys (A & B) I want to point out further for those who read this far:

[A] First, it is very hard to get a criminal conviction on a police officer because as part of their job they have to use deadly force from time to time. To illustrate further: if someone charges at me, I can’t just shoot them. But if someone charges at a police officer, they often CAN just shoot them. When you add in biases, this is a recipe for disaster, and it is CLEAR that our current laws are not sufficient to stop this.

This powerful legal power police officers have is abused time and time again. When we have a new president, there MUST be a new legal regime to prosecute these cases. Basically, the way I think this should be approached is just how the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was. Police departments with the worst record should have a tougher set of rules (a zero tolerance) than police offices with the best records. The reason you’d want to do it this way is to balance the many gray areas that will arise. I would think of the aforementioned record as the disparity in racial outcomes from use of deadly force, controlling for the location’s demographics and crime rates.

Which leads me to two:

[B] As I always say, we need a database of police use of force, and there isn’t a good one yet at a federal level. In New York, we have a liberal mayor. They find out a month ago that out of about 40 arrests for non-social distancing, 35 are black. So then the mayor knows he has to look into this. It allows you to act PREVENTATIVELY.

We MUST have a similar system for police departments, so we can audit the worst offenders BEFORE the next one of these occurs. It will also let us learn from police departments that DO get it right.

Back to George Floyd.

Just like everyone is saying, his life mattered. The situation, as is often the case, is racially complex with one of the officers who refused to even take a pulse being a minority, while one of the bystanders screaming at him to take a pulse was a white woman. There has been a long unfortunate history of what they call ‘blue vs. black’ crime where even black police officers can discriminate against black people.

It’s a difficult time for black people because you never know who is next. We just saw a very scary incident happen to a black man in Central Park named Christian Cooper, who graduated from Harvard, once wrote for Marvel Comics, and wore a bike helmet with binoculars to look at BIRDS (!) at 8am in the morning.

Again, and as always, my prayers and thoughts are with another family, again, grieving and suffering unnecessarily.

And finally, I’m of the belief, as I often am, that if you really want to see this stop, we are going to need a whole different class of laws to discipline those police officers who are doing this, and that is what I will be voting for this November.

George John Jordan Thomas Aquinas Hayward, Optimist
May 27, 2020

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