Why I Support the Police
By David DemingHere we go again. That was my first thought when I saw the video of George Floyd being restrained by police officers. Another case of apparent police brutality being presented by the media as the norm and used to justify a radical political agenda. Because one police officer may have abused his authority, we are now supposed to “defund” or even abolish the police everywhere.
Who remembers the 1991 “beating” of Rodney King? The officers were condemned vehemently by the media. When a jury found them not guilty, Los Angeles erupted in riots. Why were the police officers exonerated? Because experts in police tactics testified that the force used was not disproportionate, but had been applied judiciously. Later we learned that the video shown repeatedly by the media had been deceptively edited to remove the section that showed King lunging at the police. The most effective way to lie is by telling a half-truth.
In 2012 George Zimmerman allegedly stalked and murdered Trayvon Martin. That’s the story that was presented by the media. But Zimmerman was found not guilty by a jury. Why? Because Zimmerman did not attack Martin. Martin waited in ambush for Zimmerman, knocked him to the ground, and was in the process of beating Zimmerman to death by pounding his head into a concrete sidewalk. Zimmerman had no choice but to use his weapon. Martin’s death was not a racist murder, but a clear case of justifiable homicide that had nothing to do with race.
In 2014, the group Black Lives Matter (BLM) was launched in response to the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. We were told that Brown was a “gentle giant,” who had been mercilessly executed by officer Darren Wilson when he was innocently standing in the middle of the street, holding his hands in the air. In fact the supposed “gentle giant” was an aggressive criminal who had just robbed a convenience store. When officer Wilson stopped him for questioning, Brown attacked Wilson and tried to murder him by grabbing his gun. Brown was shot because he was charging officer Wilson. Wilson was investigated, both by a grand jury and the US Justice Department, and found to be completely innocent of all wrongdoing. In other words, BLM was founded upon a lie. The supposed reason for its very existence was proven to be non-existent.
BLM activists today are leading violent and destructive protests across the nation. Historical monuments are being torn down, and there have been widespread rioting, looting, and violent assaults on both citizens and police officers. The destruction is indiscriminate and insensible. On the night of June 23, in Madison, Wisconsin, BLM rioters tore down a statue of Christian Heg (1829-1863), an ardent abolitionist who fought and died in the Civil War for the Union to end slavery. BLM is not a civil rights organization. It is nothing less than a loose coalition of criminals and communists whose only talents lay in mindless demolition. They destroy for the same reason that some people torture animals: they enjoy it.
If you think that my claims regarding BLM are hyperbole, consider that on June 22, BLM activist and leader Shaun King demanded that statues of Jesus Christ be torn down. In his own words, “all murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form [of] white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda.” On June 24, greater New York BLM president Hawk Newsome was interviewed by Fox News and said “if this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it.” BLM is not condemned by its critics so much as it is indicted by the stated goals of its leaders.
The claim that the United States is a racist country that must be dismantled is absurd. Since the end of the Civil War, racism in the US has almost been completely eradicated. Both slavery and racial segregation have ended. We live in a white-majority country that twice elected a black president. To the extent that institutional racism exists today, it favors African Americans at the expense of the white majority. African-Americans are afforded preference in education and employment by government and corporations.
I refuse to rush to judgment in the case of George Floyd because I know how this works. A half-truth is taken out of context, or plain lies are told, all to justify a never-ending political narrative designed to divide us and inflame racial hatred. If the officers who arrested George Floyd abused their authority, they should be held accountable. But in these sort of incidents there should be no rush to judgment until a thorough investigation has been completed.
A number of facts pertaining to the death of George Floyd have suppressed by the media. First, the officers on the scene concluded that Floyd was suffering from something called Excited Delirium Syndrome (EDS). Individuals in the grip of EDS are known to be irrational, violent, and extremely dangerous. They can acquire superhuman strength and be insensitive to pain. A person in the frenzy of EDS represents an extreme danger, both to police and to himself. Second, Floyd was under the influence of both fentanyl and methamphetamine. Combined with a pre-existing heart condition, his condition was fragile. Third, the neck restraint used by officer Chauvin is an approved method formally taught to officers by the Minneapolis Police Department. It is unlikely to have been the cause of Floyd’s death. Floyd was a career criminal who made a conscious decision to fight with the police. Anyone who decides to actively resist arrest must bear a large portion of the responsibility for any adverse consequences that follow.
This irrational war on the police will result in an explosion of violent crime. Hundreds or thousands of people who would not have been harmed before will be assaulted or murdered. Nor is this idle speculation on my part. A recent scholarly analysis by Roland Fryer, an African-American professor at Harvard, concluded that “investigations [of police] that were preceded by viral incidents of deadly force...caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.” As I write, the storm of violent predation has already begun. In Chicago over the weekend of June 20-21, 104 people were shot and 14 killed. From June 15 through June 21, there were 53 criminal shootings in New York City, an increase of over four-hundred percent from the same period of time in the preceding year.
So long as you have to staff police with human beings, you’re never going to reduce incidents of abuse to absolute zero. The police make more than ten million arrests each year in this country. The extreme rarity of abusive incidents proves we have the most professional and accomplished police officers in the world. The police are not the problem, they are the solution.
David Deming is professor of Arts & Sciences at the University of Oklahoma.