This past week has been a horrible one for the United States. George Floyd was killed on video Monday, Memorial Day, by now former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin while three other officers stood by. All four officers have been fired. Chauvin has now been charged with third-degree murder and charges for the other officers are likely to follow. The video is horrific, showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he pleads with the officer that he cannot breathe.
Floyd’s autopsy indicates he had underlying conditions, but that does not change the fact that Chauvin should never have knelt on his neck.
Floyd’s horrifying death drew a near unanimous national response of condemnation for the officers’ actions. President Trump quickly called for justice in the case. But when looting and riots started, that unity dissolved. Antifa and Black Lives Matter appear to be exploiting the situation to foment rage and chaos, aided by some in the mainstream media.
Just as there is no excuse for Floyd’s fatal treatment, there is no excuse for protests to devolve into violent, destructive and deadly riots. They cease being “mostly peaceful” as the media describes them, and make victims out of people like black firefighter K.B. Balla, who put his life savings into building a sports bar — only to see rioters burn it to the ground.
Thursday through overnight Friday night, protests and riots spread to several cities around the country including just outside the White House in Washington.
While it’s difficult to find much reason for optimism, here are a couple. At the height of the riots so far, rapper Killer Mike stepped up in Atlanta to speak and calm the situation there and nationwide.
“We have to be better than this moment. We have to be better than burning down our own homes because if we lose Atlanta what else do we have?” Mike said.
“If we lose Atlanta, what else we got? We lose an ability to plot, to plan, to strategize, to organize and to properly mobilize,” Mike said. “I want you to go home. I want you to talk to 10 of your friends. I want you guys to come up with real solutions.”
“It is time to beat up prosecutors you don’t like at the voting booth. It’s time to hold mayoral offices accountable, chiefs and deputy chiefs,” Mike said.
In other words, vote inept local officials — all Democrats, in Minneapolis and most large cities across the country — out of office. Hold them accountable. This — not rampaging against innocent people and dividing the country — will make real and effective change.
Rapper Lil Wayne also urged caution and restraint.
Reacting to the death of George Floyd, rapper Lil Wayne said Friday that folks need to be “very specific” when reacting to perceived injustices, warning not to blame the “entire force” or an “entire race.”
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., noted that he’s unimpressed by “hashtag” and “t-shirt” activism if you don’t actually help the person you’re claiming to get justice for.
The rapper also implored activists to “know” what they’re “protesting about” before they advocate a cause. “It’s a bunch of facts that we think we know that we don’t know,” he said.
“If we want to place the blame on anybody, it should be ourselves for not doing more than what we think we’re doing.”
Lil Wayne also blasted “hashtag advocacy” and urged people to do what he does before leaping to public activism — “pray for them.”
Lil Wayne and Killer Mike represent quite a change, at least in rhetoric, from the cop-killing advocacy of rappers in the past. They happen to be right here. And they’re more likely to obtain justice without creating more victims.