On March 13 and again on May 1 I issued Immediate Action Warnings for violence. In the 11 weeks since the initial warning we’ve seen some sporadic violence, but almost all at the individual level. That all changed earlier this week when Minneapolis police officer (Derek Chauvin) killed a man who was begging for his life…and it was all caught on video. A man (George Floyd) who was handcuffed, who was subdued on the ground, who was compliant, who told the police officers he was having difficulty breathing. And then police officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on the back of George Floyd’s neck with almost his entire weight…until George Floyd was dead. The alleged crime of George Floyd…a clerk in a local convenience store thought that a $20 bill George Floyd used looked “suspicious.”
Now, it is not uncommon for police to use this submission tactic…video and pictures are abundant on the Internet that show police using this tactic. It is not uncommon for people to die in police custody while restrained and compliant. It is not uncommon for people to die in police custody from not being able to breath. It is not uncommon for people to beg for their lives while in police custody and still die. But, what is uncommon in this instance is one very uncommon factor…COVID-19.
No, I am not speaking of any of the people involved having COVID-19. I am talking about the fact that the country has been locked down for two months…and all the fallout from that lock down…namely the stress and tension on a national level. This week it boiled over…and the face of the resulting violence is ugly, extreme, and could grow exponentially worse.
There is also two additional issues associated with the police murder of George Floyd and the resulting violence…1) the militarized response to the violence, and 2) the targeting of journalists by police officers.
I don’t have to go into details regarding the militarized response…the pictures are all over the Internet of militarized police and army units in the streets of major US cities. But we saw in Minneapolis and in Louisville where credentialed journalists specifically targeted by police officers. In the case in Minneapolis the journalists were arrested (on live TV) based on “orders” the police officers had received from their leadership. In the Atlanta case the journalists were fired upon with crowd control pepper balls from a high powered air guns.
These factors…and more…have caused me to issue this warning.
Warning Specifics –
I am issuing an Immediate Action Warning – Violence & Civil Unrest.
This warning is based on the following:
- The nature of the confrontations
- The current high-stress national environment
- The immediate use of militarized police and military units
- The violent and destructive nature of the protesting and rioting
- The widespread, coast-to-coast, outbreak of the protests and riots
- The specific targeting of journalists by police
- Gunfire present at the protests, rioting, and looting
- A developing “us vs them” mentality
To make matters worse, far worse, was the President making the statement of shooting looters. While many may have a personal belief that shooting looters is an appropriate response…especially if you are the owner of the business being looted…it is entirely and completely inappropriate for the President of the United States to make such a statement.
Statements such as that can be seen by law enforcement and the military as having a free hand and simply shoot people vs trying to quell the violence. It can be seen by people in those communities as a complete disregard for their lives. It can be seen by the protesters as a declaration of war. It can be seen by the looters as a provocation to escalate the situation from looting businesses to shooting business owners, law enforcement officers, or military personnel. President Trump’s statement was juvenile at best…extremely provocative and dangerous at worse. Regardless, escalating an already dangerous situation.
Actions to Take –
I delayed issuing this Immediate Action Warning for good reason.
- I wanted to see the facts of the killing by police, including video and bystander statements.
- I wanted to see if there would be “sustained” violent protesting and rioting and the level of destruction associated with it.
- I wanted to see if the police officers would be charged and the reaction to that event.
Now I see this is an extremely volatile situation with the potential to spread much wider and get much worse. The stress and tension of the COVID-19 lock-down, the historic unemployment, worsening economic situation, etc. are all factors that could drive the escalation of the violence to very, very dangerous levels. I won’t state at this point what that level could be…but I will continue to monitor the situation.
Please don’t disregard this Immediate Action Warning…or take it lightly. Even Rush Limbaugh is calling a “killing” by police officers.
Remember my continual reminding you of one very important and applicable statement of those in power…
“Never let a crisis go to waste.“
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