The largely unchecked riots and looting in many Democrat-run major cities in the United States are ostensibly over the racist murder of George Floyd by an out-of-control cop in Minnesota. While video of Floyd’s death is horrifying and rather conclusively shows Office Derek Chauvin in the wrong, it is not actually at all clear at this point that Chauvin’s crime was racially motivated. It is clear, however, that while the rioting is opportunistic, outrageous, and possibly coordinated and pre-planned, America really does have a policing problem, and it is far larger than just Derek Chauvin.
While many police officers are careful professionals doing a dangerous and thankless job, there has been and is a problem on both a large and a small scale with unaccountable policing officials abusing their authority, apparently secure in the knowledge that their colleagues will cover for them. It seems that more police officers than many people would like to admit are bullies and thugs who joined the force because doing so effectively gives them a license to brutalize people without fear of censure or punishment.
This is not, contrary to establishment media myth, a race-based issue. It’s a problem of police overreach. Power-tripping cops have victimized people of all races. I myself have experienced this: in 2015 I was assaulted by a security guard, James Stankiewicz, at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, a college that had decided my opposition to jihad violence and Sharia oppression of women was beyond the pale of acceptable discourse; Stankiewicz then escaped arrest courtesy of a corrupt cop, Detective Chris Patten at the Goffstown Police Department.
Much more seriously, in January 2016, Officer Philip Brailsford shot and killed Daniel Shaver in the hallway of a hotel in Mesa, Arizona, while Shaver was complying with police orders to crawl down the hallway. The police in that case were responding to a false report that Shaver had a rifle. Shaver was white.
In 2016 in Dallas, a man named Tony Timpa, who suffered from schizophrenia, was killed by police officers who had him pinned on the ground, even as he pleaded for help and cried out: “You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me! You’re gonna kill me!”
In a larger arena, the 1992 FBI siege at Ruby Ridge, Idaho and the killing of an unarmed woman, Vicki Weaver, is a searing example of law enforcement officials abusing their authority. So also is the 1993 FBI siege at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, which resulted in the destruction of the compound and the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians.
More recently, the FBI framing of Gen. Michael Flynn was another manifestation of the same problem. Flynn was victimized by corrupt officials who had long ago left behind any sense of responsibility to the public, and had sacrificed their honesty and integrity to their avidity to advance partisan interests. Even worse, they were only interested in destroying Flynn as a step toward their overall goal of destroying Donald Trump, solely for the crime of having been elected President while advocating for policies they detested.
The FBI’s corruption didn’t start with the election of Trump. When jihad terrorists opened fire at the free speech event Pamela Geller and in Garland, Texas on May 3, 2015, an undercover FBI agent had egged them on to attack the event, entering the parking lot of the event right behind the jihadis, and telling them to “tear up Texas.” The FBI stonewalled all our efforts to compel them to disclose the exact nature of their involvement in the attack.
There are many, many other such incidents, large and small. CNN and the rest of the establishment media is extraordinarily irresponsible to perpetuate the myth that black Americans are uniquely the victims of rogue cops and venial law enforcement authorities. The fact is that this is even larger than a racial problem, but it has been obscured by the violent opportunism of Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
Recoiling in horror at the riots, conservatives can be tempted to issue a blanket exoneration of the police, and to reject out of hand any report of law enforcement misconduct. That only enables the misconduct to continue, and that in turn gives continuing fuel to the race hucksters and agents of division who are trying to incite the riots and exploit them for their own purposes.
A thoroughgoing reevaluation and reform of the entire system is needed, with accountability procedures put into place that will prevent not only more Derek Chauvins, but more Peter Strzoks and Andrew McCabes. Human nature being what it is, there will always be corrupt and out-of-control officials.
Our republic itself was founded by people who were well aware of that; our three-branch system of government is the result of their efforts to install as many safeguards as possible to prevent those officials from being successful. It is time now, after the death of George Floyd, to begin efforts to construct new and effective safeguards in our law enforcement and intelligence services.
Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 19 books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.