Recap: There was another incident of a cop killing a black man, this time in Minneapolis. The victim was George Floyd. While Floyd was on the handcuffed on the ground the cop, using his knee, pressed his neck into the ground for something like 7 minutes, blocking air flow and eventually causing death. This blog post is not about this case specifically, but this case prompted my to write this. I’ve been seeing people all over social media shouting everything from anarchists to people (looters) just wanting free stuff to organized ‘white supremacy’ to some non-thinking bonehead claiming it is George Soros wanting to hurt President Trump’s chances for re-election (seriously, where the fuck did that come from?). No, this is a general article about the circumstances that allow incidents like this to happen continuously over and over and over again.
Racism is certainly a piece of the puzzle. There’s more than one factor, absolutely, no question. And racism might be the biggest piece. Maybe. But the other big piece of the puzzle is “qualified immunity”.
“…qualified immunity protects a government official from lawsuits alleging that the official violated a plaintiff’s rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right.
“Qualified immunity is not immunity from having to pay money damages, but rather immunity from having to go through the costs of a trial at all.”
Problem is, it has become abused since its establishment in 1982 to the point it’s effectively an almost total immunity for any actions. Police engage in these actions as if they have absolute immunity, because, well, in all practical reality they do. It has historically been very rare for a police officer to be prosecuted, let alone convicted, unless public attention was so overwhelming the so-called justice system had no other choice.
You could almost call racism and immunity as “co-equal” primary influences on police brutality against minorities. Face it, even most racists would think twice if they thought there would be serious consequences if caught, but would actually be encouraged if they thought there would be no consequences… as is the case with the current system.
Police act like laws don’t apply to them because of ‘qualified immunity.’ They’re right.
when Floyd’s family goes to court to hold the officers liable for their actions, a judge in Minnesota may very well dismiss their claims. Not because the officers didn’t do anything wrong, but because there isn’t a case from the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court specifically holding that it is unconstitutional for police to kneel on the neck of a handcuffed man for eight minutes until he loses consciousness and then dies.
Is that perverted, or what? I’m sure there was no hidden insidious intent, but this is what happened anyway.
So, what can we do about it?
It helps that the Supreme Court may be reconsidering qualified immunity, but in my own humble opinion we should not hold our breath, given the recent artificial packing of the court by the Republicans, who tend to love stuff like this.
Peaceful protests do little, but they’re a start for awareness.
Looting is wholly counterproductive and only serves to hurt the neighborhood people left after the looters go home… which is usually far away. And spare me the self-righteous defense of looting, just a month ago you were decrying the peaceful, but armed, protests at state capitols over masks (which was insanely dumb, but just shows an “us vs them” mentality).
It’s not a quick or emotionally satisfying process, but the only real solution is to get out there and vote… and by vote I mean vote SMART. Educate yourself. This is a result of the “tough on crime” mindset that has been so popular in the last 50 years. “Tough on Crime” (ToC) has given us things like mandatory minimum sentences, police theft (civil asset forfeiture), and police qualified immunity… with said immunity turning the police themselves into criminals in their own way.
- Vote out ALL your incumbent state and local politicians. Yes, all of them, even if you like them or they’re your preferred party. All of them.
- Elect new politicians that are not beholden to LE and/or LE unions.
- Elect politicians that do not play up ToC. This may shock some people, but it is possible to be tough on crime without being “tough on crime”. In other words, elect people who won’t make poorly conceived (yet popular) laws that cause more problems than they solve.
You can be tough on crime
without being “tough on crime”
Will this fix it?
Meh, probably not. Why? It would take time, people are impatient and/or have short memories. Per step #1 people would be forced to vote against their beliefs, and that won’t happen, but I think it’s clear unless a cop has some type of meaningful consequences to fear, this stuff will continue unabated, regardless how outraged you get or how self-righteous you act or how much you try to enlighten them. Get used to it.