When the first calls for “defunding police” began to emerge from the riots and rubble caused by George Floyd’s death, I perked up with somewhat muted interest. Any good civil libertarian would hope to see more than just feigned reform of our nation’s local police departments.
The end of “qualified immunity?” (Yes, please.)
A reduction of the influence and power by police unions that protects bad cops? (I’ll take that.)
An end to arrests, trials, and imprisonment for victimless and consensual “crimes?” (Hell yes, but that’s not really a policing issue, as much as needed and overdue legislative reform.)
“Community policing?” (Umm . . . I’m listening.)
Then, on Sunday, the Minneapolis City Council announced their plan to “disband the Minneapolis Police Department” and “invest in community-led public safety.” A hundred thoughts and scenarios raced through my mind, but I was nowhere near ready to coalesce those into commentary. I posted the ACLU’s tweet on the TPC Facebook Page, and let our readers have at it. Over 800 comments, suggestions, and sarcastic quips followed.
Social media erupted with the orgasmic sounds from anarchists and certain other libertarian factions, creaming all over themselves with imaginings of “lowered taxes,” (ha . . . hilarious), “smaller government budgets,” (uh . . . dude . . . they said “invest in” other options), and of course a giddy utopian glee from those who think all cops are the manifestation of evil incarnate on this earth. That POOF! . . . just like that . . . police will be gone. Others see this move, and a hoped for domino-effect across the entire fruited plain, in a more reserved, hopeful manner — one that leads to much need systemic reforms. More worrisome, are those who are now looking to Washington for solutions. Which leads me to that “Trojan Horse.”
But, wait . . . not yet. I’ll get there soon enough. The table is not yet fully set.
Since the onset of the first Minneapolis protests and riots, I’d wanted to call a friend of mine, (of over 30 years), who just retired from the Minneapolis Police Department only six years ago, after a 20-year stint with the MPD. (We met when I lived in a Minneapolis suburb, from 1988 to 1993.) I procrastinated for almost two weeks, but Sunday’s announcement by the Minneapolis City Council kicked me in the butt to make that call. The conversation was . . . uh . . . interesting, to say the least.
My friend never knew or met Officer Derek Chavin, the cop who held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. The MPD is too large to know every other cop on the job, and they never worked in the same district. The other three officers involved in Floyd’s death joined after my friend retired. He first explained to me — that when he was “on the job” — no matter how violently an offender resisted arrest, his first priority after getting the handcuffs on was to get the accused into the back seat of the police car. Especially in a situation where a potentially hostile crowd might be gathering. If nothing else, for the safety of the arresting officers. While he couldn’t explain why that didn’t happen in the Floyd arrest, he then offered up a possible scenario which shook me to my core.
At this point I have to pause the narrative. What my friend told me — about what might have been happening in that particular arrest — is an alternate scenario which no one of the thousands of subsequent news media reports, none of the press briefings, or no expert analyst has yet publicly proffered. For the last 48 hours or so, I’ve struggled with whether or not I even dare share his conjecture, so volatile the reaction it could cause, and how hostile the reactions might be toward me just for the retelling. I’ve paced the floor and run it through my head, over and over, how I might convey his alternate read on what could have been taking place, and what might have been swirling through the minds of those cops as they undertook those fateful actions we’ve all seen on video. I haven’t yet reconciled whether or not it’s even worth the effort, much less how to formulate the rendering.
For now, I’ll tell you that it’s nothing conspiratorial, in any way shape or form. It’s just a simple chain of events that happens to be quite common in similar circumstances, and these officers were possibly paralyzed in the heat of the moment — especially because of the growing crowd and the many cameras focused in their direction.
For now . . . please don’t ask. Don’t send me private messages asking for the inside scoop. If I can figure out a way to share that proposed scenario, I will. I’ve only told one close friend thus far, and I know he’d agree that in the grand scheme of things, it probably won’t matter any way. George Floyd is dead, and that nine-minute video, alone, will seal the eventual fates of those arresting officers.
Back to the conversation . . .
My friend told me that over 50 MPD cops have already resigned or taken their retirement from the force since this event took place. Many more will soon follow, regardless of whether or not the City goes through with their plan to “disband” the MPD. The pressures and difficulties of the job — particularly given the politics of that City, and the growing Muslim immigrant population — already make it difficult to recruit qualified replacements. Now, he says it will be practically impossible.
Before 1999, the City’s police officers and firefighters were required by law to be residents of Minneapolis proper. The Twin Cities’ metropolitan population is about 3.5 million, including St. Paul and surrounding suburban townships, but Minneapolis itself only has about 450,000 residents. During the 90s, the City began taking in 10s-of-thousands of Somali refugees. It’s very hard to find an accurate, current count — since the 2010 census — but estimates range from 60,000 to 100,000 in the metro area. In Minneapolis itself, Somalis have taken over large urban neighborhoods. By 1999 it had already become so difficult for the MPD to hire replacement officers, the law was changed, allowing cops to live outside the City. My friend immediately moved his family 50 miles north of his district. Today, some 90% of those police officers live outside the City. Primarily for their own perceived safety, and that of their families.
The immigrant Somalis are now deep into their second generation of residency, and large percentages resist assimilating into the American culture. Youth are being recruited into violent gangs, and their neighborhoods are operating on their “own laws.” He had previously described to me Minneapolis as a “powder keg,” long before the events that began two weeks ago.
(This short video by Ami Horowitz shows that many Minneapolis Somalis not only prefer Sharia law over American law, but would also rather live in Somalia, despite their enjoyed freedoms here: https://youtu.be/DU3G-bHCZhc)
My friend is not optimistic about the future of Minneapolis policing, nor that of law enforcement nationwide. Lowering of hiring standards was already the name of the game for the MPD before this current crisis. A concerted effort by the city to hire Somalis required a double-standard in qualifications between those and other non-Somali applicants. Resentment and lowering of morale, an obvious consequence.
We also discussed the “racial” aspect of the arrest. As I’ve already written, there is simply no evidence that “race” or “racism” played any role in the action of those cops, yet that national, knee-jerk assumption set our cities ablaze, simply because of the contrasting skin color of Derek Chauvin and George Floyd. Further, as my friend pointed out, those cops were all too aware of the situation they were in and the growing number of cellphone cameras focused upon them and their actions. Racial, cultural, and diversity training given by the MPD — in so progressive a city as Minneapolis — is so frequent and intense, it’s incomprehensible those cops dismissed the totality of the given circumstances and surroundings to flagrantly commit a racially-inspired “hate crime,” on video for the world to see. The presence of cellphone videos, and its potential consequences, being another aspect of their training.
Now . . . who knows what’s going to happen, what holes are going to need to be filled, who by, and to what extent Minneapolis and other cities are going to look to DC for more than just federal funds. If the Minneapolis City Council follows through, and some sort of “community-policing” initiative replaces the existing MPD, will the Somalis have their own, Shariah-based laws? (Some say that is already the case.) Will wealthier neighborhoods hire their own private security forces? Will vigilantism become the order of the day? Will the Hennepin County Sheriff and State Police, or even federal police forces fill the vacuum?
“We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” -Presidential candidate Barack Obama, July 2, 2008
Part 2, coming soon . . .
#DefundPolice #TrojanHorse #PushbackNOW