Few who saw the video of George Floyd’s death believed that former officer Derek Chauvin didn’t deserve to face some kind of criminal charges. Many also figured at least some of the officers present should receive some kind of punishment. While there is plenty of room to debate just what kind of charges are appropriate, most figure that something was warranted.
Yet when we compare that to the death of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, we see something different.
Watching the video and hearing the reports of what transpired, it’s hard not to see former officer Garrett Rolfe as carrying out a justified shoot. Brooks wasn’t just resisting arrest, but had stolen an officer’s taser and had even fired it. The Fulton County D.A. Paul Howard apparently figured that tasers aren’t deadly weapons, thus the act wasn’t justified. The same D.A. who called tasers deadly weapons just days before when he charged police officers for their use.
While an investigation was ongoing–not by the Atlanta Police Department but by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, an outside agency–the D.A. opted to file charges before everything had come to light. The GBI was blindsided by this.
They shouldn’t have been.
Howards earlier prosecution of police officers for using a taser, calling it aggravated assault, coupled with his actions here suggest a pronounced anti-police bias. However, it’s also possible that he and everyone else involved are also trying desperately to appease the mob.
This is also visible in how everyone is now removing Confederate-related statues pretty much everywhere. While I understand the arguments to this, we’ve also seen that such isn’t enough. A statue of George Washington was destroyed Thursday night, just one of several statues of Founding Fathers destroyed. Other incidents have seen statues of Christopher Columbus defaced. In the U.K., Winston Churchill is being held up as a symbol of bigotry and an attempt is being made to scrub him from the British landscape.
And while all of this might look only slightly related, it’s not.
Right now, politicians fear the mob. They’re terrified of it, so they’re doing what they can to appease it. That’s why the shooter in Albequerque was charged early on. That’s why Rolfe was charged before an investigation could even get going good.
However, that’s a losing proposition.
As we see with the statues, it’ll never be enough. The mob will never be satiated. They’ll keep demanding more and more, taking each sacrificial victim as just part of its due, but they’ll never be satisfied.
If they were, it’s likely they’d have been satisfied with Derek Chauvin’s head on a platter and at least wait to see what came out of that, but no. They demanded more and now he’s being charged with second-degree murder, a much more difficult charge to make stick. It appeases the mob for now, but the mob doesn’t understand the law. They’ll be outraged even more of Chauvin walks, not because he was innocent, but because he was over-charged.
If that happens, Minneapolis will burn again.
The same of Rolfe walks from the charges against him. Trying to appease the mob short term is tempting, but it may well delay the inevitable, plus it can destroy innocent lives in the process.
What it doesn’t do, however, is make anything better. At best, it kicks the can down the road. Unfortunately, the simmering resentments only build. Then, should an unpopular verdict be reached, it explodes even more than it would have before.
Things may have settled down for now, but based on what some officials are doing, don’t expect it to be over.