Opinion » Rhetoric & Reason

After the anger



After watching the video of the George Floyd murder at the hands of a callous police officer, the word "outraged" is totally inadequate. What can you do at that moment? The law doesn't have any provision for citizens to intervene in police operations and anyone who attempted to do so would likely be in greater legal difficulty than Mr. Floyd had he lived. The other officers involved had an opportunity to intervene: Two attempted to do so, including the "rookie" helping hold Floyd down. The place of rookie cops in the law enforcement pecking order is somewhere below the basement, but at least one of the other two officers might have effectively intervened had they chosen to do so.

A second killing of a man for what was essentially a DUI arrest occurred this week in Georgia. The circumstances were similar to the Floyd case in the beginning. The suspect was initially docile and cooperative, just as Floyd was, but when actually arrested, suddenly became violent. He broke free of the arresting officers, and as he fled with one officer's Taser-gun in hand, one of the pursuing officers drew his service weapon and fired three shots at the back of Rayshard Brooks, with at least two of the bullets striking Brooks in the back. A Taser is not a lethal weapon in the hands of a fleeing suspect, and the video shows no imminent threat to the pursuing officer. The second officer was at least 20 feet behind the shooting officer and fired no shots, not even drawing his weapon as far as I could see.

Some may ask, why didn't they just let him sleep it off or walk home? However, what is to stop Mr. Brooks from returning to his vehicle and driving off while intoxicated? If Brooks had done so and killed someone while driving intoxicated, the liability (moral and legal) would have been on the officers who released him. Police protect us from stupidity, which at times can be lethal to the innocent, such as the victims of drunk drivers. The officers were right not to let Brooks, who was clearly intoxicated, get back in his car or leave the scene. However, using deadly force to apprehend a fleeing suspect whose crime was first a DUI and then felonies involving assault on police officers still doesn't warrant deadly force under Georgia law or the law of most states.

These incidents are national tragedies. The most radical elements of our society, whose agenda couldn't care less about Floyd or Brooks, aim to destroy the foundations of our republic and every institution within. Initial demonstrations were peaceful; they were hijacked by violent anarchist groups such as the black-clad/masked antifa, a collection of Marxists, communists, and anarchists loosely confederated but tied by social media. Professing to be "anti-fascists," they're the embodiment of fascism. They are funded, according to the Justice Department, by multiple individuals and groups that pay transportation to demonstrations and pay their bail expenses if arrested. They consist of disaffected loners, college students/faculty members, and even lawyers, as were two arrested for firebombing a New York Police Department car. (Both were graduates of prestigiuos universities and law schools.) Their activities violate federal laws under the racketeering statutes and other federal laws against interstate travel to commit violent crimes. Antifa uses the crowds of legitimate demonstrators as cover as they toss bricks, cement-filled bottles, and firebombs at police, affecting a strong police response, which they hope will degenerate into a riot. They've been successful.

The anger toward police has resulted in at least three active law enforcement officers murdered and one retired officer murdered attempting to aid a friend defend his business against looters. Injured officers number in the hundreds across the nation. The livelihoods of hundreds of small-business owners (a large number being minority-owned businesses) have been destroyed with thousands of employees out of work, to what effect?

I remember the riots of the 1960s, especially those of 1968 when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered. Many of those burned neighborhood businesses never returned, and some blocks remain boarded up even today. When the instigators leave and the looters have stolen all there is to steal, the community is left with the ashes to sweep up. As a society, we've also failed our young people, raising them to believe they are victims and that racism can be blamed for all of our social ills, and we've failed to teach them to respect authority. Confrontations with police are losing propositions regardless of your social station in life. Fight injustice in court, not the streets.

It's pointless to present facts disproving the false narrative of "systemic American racism," as people aren't listening. Once the fires of hate are lit, like the fires of hell, they are virtually inextinguishable. Once again, a cycle of hate and fury has engulfed America. Neither social engineering nor re-training of police will resolve injustice, nor will persuasion that "Black Lives Matter" (they do). Only when slogans are replaced by a change of hearts to "love thy neighbor" will peace return to America. Δ

Al Fonzi had a 35-year military career, serving in both the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Respond with a letter to the editor emailed to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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