As a former NYPD officer with 32 years of service, I was outraged at the despicable conduct of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, suspected of using a counterfeit bill [“Cop charged with murder in Floyd death,” News, May 30]. The video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck was horrific and clearly criminal, in my opinion, and Chauvin’s arrest was justified.
It is unfortunate that peaceful demonstrations were taken over by violent people, who for days have been looting and burning stores. Our country is a nation held together by laws, and committing crimes in the name of protests is wrong and must be stopped.
More than 18,000 U.S. state and local law enforcement agencies, with more than 1 million full-time employees and everyday members, deal with numerous arrests to provide security for their communities. It is wrong to stereotype all police officers as violent or racist based on the actions of a small number, and it is a disgrace that people attacked NYPD officers and burned cars in New York for actions of a Minneapolis officer who was arrested in Floyd’s death.
George Floyd died after a police officer placed his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck. Floyd pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. It drew comparisons to Eric Garner’s death in 2014 after he was placed in a police chokehold while also pleading for his life.
It’s almost four years since Colin Kaepernick began protesting police brutality. Those indignant about Kaepernick taking a knee on a football field should be outraged by a white police officer placing his knee on Floyd’s neck. In protesting, Kaepernick was attempting to focus on flaws in America, namely police brutality to people of color and why the police are distrusted.
The images are a painful reminder of inequality in our country. Bernice King, daughter of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted: “If you are unbothered or mildly bothered by the 1st knee, but outraged by the 2nd, then, in my father’s words, you’re more devoted to order than justice. And more passionate about an anthem that supposedly symbolizes freedom than you are about a Black man’s freedom to live.”
The George Floyds and Ahmaud Arberys deserve better. We should all be kneeling with Kaepernick.
Myrna Lee Gordon,
The police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck was reportedly disciplined twice for 18 prior complaints. Most businesses have guidelines for employees stating that if an employee violates many corporate rules he or she will be terminated. This is a sound business practice so employees know the rules when hired. Why don’t police departments implement these same practices? Everyone is going to make mistakes and they will need guidance to help them grow and learn proper procedures. But if someone needs to be disciplined more than several times, then management needs to follow up with the rules and fire the employee.
It is more important for police departments to set disciplinary actions for their employees and get rid of the bad apples who hurt their departments and give their cities a bad name. Past bad decisions by police have produced bad or disastrous results for cities. Derek Chauvin should have been terminated years earlier. By keeping him, the Minneapolis police and city leaders caused great damage to their city as well as to cities around the country. A little common sense would have saved millions of people this present grief.
The past few days, a front-line police officer at a “peaceful” protest has faced more provocations than you can imagine [“Vows to investigate protesters, cops,” News, June 1]. Throw in a pandemic. Now add looting, rocks, bottles, Molotov cocktails, burning police cars and a cop shot by a sniper in the next precinct. Then, the officer goes home and can’t turn it off. He’s lucky if he gets three hours’ sleep. By day 3, do you think the officer’s restraint may be weakening? You would be correct. This is what I see happening: Riotous behavior is intended to provoke, and eventually one of those thousands of officers who gets smacked or spit on will unleash some fury to the glee of, say, 300 video devices, tens of millions of viewers and a special investigator.
Cops are human and despite their high level of training, they can only tolerate a certain level of violence, humiliation and disrespect before they break. That breaking point varies by individual. It’s not a RoboCop out there, it’s your neighbor.
Editor’s note: The writer is a retired chief of the Nassau County Police Department.
While one can certainly understand the depth of anger and frustration surrounding the horribly senseless death of George Floyd, there is clearly a difference between protesting and rioting. What purpose is served by destroying neighborhood businesses, looting stores or tossing Molotov cocktails into a police cruiser with four officers inside? How do violent actions like this positively deal with the situation? Yes, people should continue to exercise their right to protest for a redress of grievances, but they should do so in a more constructive way that will produce positive results rather than create resentment and widen our already gaping divisions.
Arthur M. Shatz,
I would be amazed and disgusted if anyone, after seeing the video, would not be shocked by the unnecessary and violent death of George Floyd. However, looting stores, burning buildings and creating additional horrible situations are not the way to go. This only causes more discrimination, division and disharmony among the races.
We are all one people — black, white, yellow, tan, whatever, and an offense against one is an offense against all. Let’s not degrade ourselves by using an unfortunate and horrible occurrence as an excuse to steal, destroy and act like the people we are supposed to be demonstrating against. We need to be in this spiritually, legally and morally, together, as one, if we really want to seek justice for Floyd, his family and any of those put in his position in the future.
Forceful arrest by police officers should be discontinued if enough identification has been obtained and their own lives are not endangered. Those who resist arrest can be taken into custody later by a trained SWAT team, if necessary. And then they will receive severe justice, if appropriate.
William Adams Littell,
When they killed Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue, I said we are all Jews. When President Donald Trump said the coronavirus is the Chinese virus, I said we are all Chinese Americans. It is time in America that we defend and protect black Americans. I say we are all black Americans. Enough is enough.