View From Here
By David Mark Greaves
It was the video recording of the casual way Derrick Chauvin murdered George Floyd — hand in pocket, dark glasses on his head, holding a conversation while Floyd lay on the ground begging to breathe with Chauvin’s knee on his neck, that made this death so painful and shocking.
We already know what justice looks like as a response to the continued police killing and violence against African-Americans. It is repeal of the shielding mechanisms for the police. An 1871 law, enacted during Reconstruction after the Civil War, has been interpreted as giving police “qualified immunity,” effectively shielding them from prosecution. It protected the only police at the time, white men, from accountability for the violence they inflict. The intent was to give them the authority over Black people they had during and after slavery, that some still dearly miss.
Then there is Civil Rights Law 50-a, which denies access to the personnel records of police, firefighters and correction officers and therefore patterns of bad behavior are hidden. These laws are the last refuge of a peculiar need to express racial hatred with impunity. There have been years of promises of training and retraining, and of department “actions” being taken to make police more accountable. Despite this work and despite the fact that most officers do not behave this way, some things cannot be trained out of the heart and out of the culture. These laws have to be recognized as the vestiges of slavery that they are, and they have to be repealed and bad police officers punished and not just with desk jobs or comments in their personnel file. They have to go to jail.
Over the last century, African Americans have voted, marched and protested lynching, killings and beatings, and here we are in 2020, still being asked to remain calm in the face of continued evil. But now others are not remaining calm. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, these are the names young white people are calling out as they march by the hundreds of thousands in protests in cities across the country, giving us hope that there is truly change on the horizon.
Dictator in Waiting
With his ordering of rubber bullets, tear gas, flash/bang grenades and low-flying helicopters to be used to disperse protesters across from the White House, Donald Trump has shown us what he would do to stop demonstrations, a macabre example of the old joke, “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”
And the possibility of having a peaceful transition of power in the November election is growing dimmer with his every Tweet. And he has others on his side. The Russians and terrorists, both foreign and domestic, are working mightily on his behalf. They know that four more years of Donald Trump will complete America’s transformation into the foreign dictatorships we used to feel sorry for and impose sanctions on.
On the other hand, perhaps by November, when the death toll is surging past 200,000 while continuing Covid-19’s penetration of Trump strongholds, the voting landscape will change. When reality is grandma dying upstairs because there is no room at the hospital, then maybe his approval rating will fall below 40% and we will be rid of him and his Senate. Maybe.