By Samuel Knox, Unite News Managing Editor
On Monday May 25, 2020 George Floyd, a 46 year-old black man, was detained by a white Minneapolis police officer who held his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck for several minutes over a non-violent allegation; Floyd died shortly thereafter. Floyd pleaded for his life during the arrest; he said repeatedly, “I can’t breathe,” “you’re killing me.” The four police officers involved in his death were fired from the department Tuesday. Ex-Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, has been charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s death sparked protests across the country, with thousands echoing some of the man’s final words, “I can’t breathe.” Some of those demonstrations were peaceful, while others ended in flames, widespread looting, damages and hundreds of arrests as well as injuries —so much for social distancing. As city after city in America is under assault, with buildings on fire and increasing amounts of property damage, we need to unite as well in our condemnation of these violent riots. There is nothing righteous about looting and vandalizing the stores of community business owners. This is chaos. This is lawlessness. We can be outraged over the killing of George Floyd and aggrieved over the sin of racism without resorting to this.
Police are sworn by oath to protect and to serve. They owe a duty to everyone they encounter and are held to a higher standard of care. That is why these kinds of murders hit a nerve that runs deep within the black community and almost always elicit a national outcry. It’s an emotional chord that pushes back against the memory and the pain of racism, betrayal of authority, and the historical bias of the criminal justice system.
Our local Springfield Chief of Police and law enforcement departments have worked to cultivate an environment of trust, in our diverse community. These efforts include the annual participation in and support of diverse community events, the active hiring of their diverse workforce, as well as diversity training for officers and the establishment of the Chief’s Citizen Advisory Group. This Group is comprised of ethnically diverse community leaders as well as any concerned citizens who wants to attend and ask a question about any action, policy or procedure preformed by a Springfield Police officer.
The vast majority of police officers are honorable men and women who serve their communities in very difficult, often dangerous, and ever changing situations. They deserve our support, just as those corrupt individuals within their ranks deserve our contempt. But the good ones far outnumber the bad ones.