Sam Burnham, Curator
A lot of folks are processing some recent events. In Minneapolis, George Floyd died after an arresting officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, slowly suffocating him to death. In Louisville, Kentucky, Breonna Taylor was asleep in her own bed as plainclothes officers executed a no-knock warrant on the wrong apartment, her apartment and shot her to death. In Brunswick, Georgia, Ahmaud Arbery was chased down by men with guns and when he attempted to defend himself, they killed him.
It’s time to dial some things back. It’s time to make some changes. Let me say that I spent 21 years in public safety and many of my college friends majored in criminal justice. I know a lot of cops. I know a lot of really good cops. I also know some trash in uniform. And the trash ruins it for the good cops and for the taxpayers. The three people I have mentioned in this article are dead because of bad cops (or citizens) and bad practices.
Floyd was arrested in suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. A crime, but not exactly violent. And he didn’t appear to be resisting arrest. And law enforcement officials across the nation are condemning the tactic used by an officer that led to Floyd’s death. The same officials are also criticizing the other officers on scene who saw what was happening but didn’t stop it. This man didn’t need to die. In fact, he shouldn’t have died. It’s just unacceptable. It’s inexcusable. It’s wrong.
Taylor was an EMT. She was asleep in her own bed, not bothering a soul. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker has been arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault for...shooting at people who busted into their apartment with guns in the middle of the night. This is a serious violation of Amendment IV. Oh, and the drug suspect police were searching for was already in custody.
Aubery was jogging in a neighborhood. He had allegedly entered a home under construction. Something I have done hundreds of times to look at floor plans, architectural techniques, carpentry, etc. Nothing was reported stolen or damaged from the construction site. Two armed men in a pickup tried to apprehend Arbery. A third man videoed what happened as Arbery tried to defend himself and was shot dead.
So one person accused of a minor offense and two completely innocent people are dead. A fourth person who reacted pretty much as you’d expect a person to react is awaiting trial on felony charges because of bad actions by bad cops and overzealous citizens.
As citizens, we have to expect better from our police forces and our neighbors. There are absolutely times for police to use deadly force. Slowly suffocating a counterfeiting suspect isn’t one of them. There’s never an excuse for a late night execution of a no-knock warrant. It’s just unconstitutional. And if you suspect someone is committing a burglary, armed confrontation probably isn’t going to end like it does in the movies. So keep your John Wayne butt on the porch and wait for police.
There have been cases in which police were justified. There’s no excuse for these three cases. All three were avoidable and should have been avoided. There have to be arrests, there have to be trials, and barring unexpected evidence, there have to be convictions. This is not how our founders intended our republic to be policed. This has to stop. It has to stop now.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire