I have nothing clever to say about the events of the past week, but I want to say clearly that I am far more concerned about the loss of life than the loss of property and that I am so angered by that video of George Floyd being casually killed by a police officer that I cannot watch it without feeling physically sick. The right and wrong of the situation is so clear it is painful. All of the cops on the scene failed to do their jobs and all of them participated in killing a man—a Black man, an American man, a son, a father, a human being. Those police officers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. History tells us they won’t be. That’s why people are marching through the streets in the middle of a pandemic. The anger is justified.
It seems evident that no charges would have been brought against Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed George Floyd, if it weren’t for the video footage captured by people at the scene. Chauvin was used to getting away with violence and he expected to get away with murder. He is not alone. And let me go ahead and interject the required disclaimer: not all cops. Of course some cops work to protect people rather than terrorize them, but we are well past the time when we can point to our nation’s law enforcement and tut-tut over a few bad apples. We are swimming in bad apples. The bad apples have spoiled the bunch.
Thanks to the video cameras in everyone’s pockets, it is now a bit harder for cops to keep their own criminal activity under wraps. They don’t like this, as is evidenced by the number of professional reporters who were arrested, detained, injured, and threatened by police officers in cities across the nation this weekend.
If we don’t protect and defend our free press, we’re done. These journalists have an absolute right to record and report on the actions of protestors, of agitators, of law enforcement, and of elected officials. Ordinary citizens have every right to record the action happening in public places, as well. But we now live in a country where police feel free to shoot pepper bullets at local reporters and arrest national reporters who are doing their jobs. That’s terrifying.
This is not what America is supposed to be, but it is exactly what America is under the current president. He’s been working toward this moment for years. He has repeatedly called the press the “enemy of the people,” just as so many lawless and ruthless leaders have throughout history. He’s encouraged police officers to use greater force. And he is a blatant racist, casually invoking the language of modern day white nationalists and Civil Rights-era segregationists.
This man encourages violence against Black people and against journalists and then feigns surprise when the violence happens. This weekend, he hid in an underground bunker to escape the consequences of his words and his actions. What sort of person hides from the people he was elected to lead?
If it weren’t for the media, many of whom are now risking their lives to cover this administration, we wouldn’t know half of what this man and his cronies are doing to destroy America. Perhaps that’s what the cops are hoping for when they point their weapons at journalists and when they handcuff reporters. Thank goodness for the brave members of the media and the ordinary citizens who keep pointing their cameras right back at the cops.
The truth of this situation is plain to see, even from the cold, cowardly depths of the presidential bunker. It is ugly. It is vicious. It is wrong. And it is exactly what this administration has been working toward.
Keep your cameras rolling, America. We need all the evidence we can gather.