George Floyd made three mistakes in the last minutes of his life.
First, he allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis. Police were called. He was given the opportunity to make good the purchase and allegedly refused.
Second, the charging document accusing Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin of murdering Floyd said that Floyd was under the influence of intoxicating chemicals, later identified as methamphetamine and fentanyl.
And third, the complaint states that Floyd resisted arrest. Video of the incident has been limited to showing a handcuffed Floyd walking across a sidewalk and then later, lying face down in the street, pleading for his life while Chauvin’s knee lay on his neck. Floyd’s resistance must have been on the police body cams in order to be noted in the complaint.
None of those mistakes justify taking his life.
The horrifying video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after Floyd lost consciousness, should have outraged everyone who saw it.
Then, there’s what happened next. The four officers involved were immediately fired, and DFL politicians elbowed each other aside to add to the anger. Maybe if the trials are moved to Kittson County in the dead of winter, they will be fair, but nowhere else.
Minneapolis and St. Paul have become anti-cop cities. Last year, Minneapolis Police Chief Medario Arradondo asked for 400 additional officers. Mayor Jacob Frey responded by offering 14.
In St. Paul, Mayor Melvin Carter actually called for reducing the size of the police force, but then conducted neighborhood listening sessions and backed off. The St. Paul Police studied its manpower needs and asked for 103 more.
A state study was completed in February on “Police-Involved Deadly Force Encounters” with 28 recommendations. Frey and the Minneapolis City Council did not react to it. The Legislature may take up the report in a few weeks, calling for more study or more diversity training, and pretending like it has done something. The current political class is obviously great at identifying the public’s grievances and generally inept at taking decisive action to solve them. The reality is that, until we change individual hearts, nothing is going to change.
In the void created by meaningless virtue-signaling from the communist/liberal/left/anarchist/progressive/socialist/extremist (COLLAPSE) politicians, an opportunity was seized by rioters, arsonists and looters. Thanks to a rainstorm, the festivities got off to a slow start, but the mob was fully organized less than 48 hours after Floyd died.
Not so Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. He was nowhere to be seen until we all woke up Thursday morning to see the smoking ruins. When he finally held a press conference, the first thing he did was throw Frey under the bus.
He was joined in that by Major General Jon Jensen, the leader of the Minnesota National Guard, who said his organization didn’t know how to respond because they didn’t know what the mission was. How about: “Restore order”? Since when does a general have to be told what to do?
Then Walz called up 500 National Guard members when it was obvious at least 10 times that number were needed. The Minnesota National Guard has more than 13,000 members. For three full days, chaos reigned, hundreds of buildings were looted and destroyed along with the lifelong dreams of many small entrepreneurs who served minority neighborhoods.
When Walz and Frey set a curfew, it was immediately challenged by protesters, but the leaders only kinda, sorta enforced it. Until those we elect understand that laws are for everyone, and not just suggestions or virtue signaling for the next election, the chaos will only grow.
To its credit, once deployed on May 30, the Guard and other law enforcement personnel performed admirably, but someone needs to ask why it took five days to end the anarchy.
In listing the duties of the governor, the Minnesota Constitution says in part, “He is commander-in-chief of the military and naval forces and may call them out to execute the laws, suppress insurrection and repel invasion.” He failed miserably.
Meanwhile, it is reported all over the internet that his daughter, Hope, tweeted to rioters on at least one night that the Guard would not be deployed, thereby emboldening them. The Twitter account has since been taken down, but the screen grabs are there for anyone to see. One wonders what Walz was telling her, and who else in the inner circle was tipping off the mob?
The world’s fundamental truth is that for any good the COLLAPSE group may think it is doing, without unbiased, universal application of the rule of law, backed up as necessary by the force of arms, nothing else works. Another truth is that we get the liberty we deserve.
Yes, many protesters were peaceful. Yes, police need to do more to address racial bias. No, George Floyd did not deserve to die. But yes, Walz and Frey have much explaining to do.
We have a president who spends most of his time blaming everyone else for the challenges he faces. We now have a governor who let a mob get the best of him. And we have a Minneapolis mayor who failed to get his police force under control. Can’t anyone lead anymore?
Tom West, now retired, is the former general manager of this paper. Reach him at email@example.com.