Posts Tagged ‘george floyd’

Mac Donald on Police Racism

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Heather Mac Donald argues that police are not more likely to kill black people than white people, factoring in that black people commit disproportionate crime. But I think she basically misses the point. A tiny fraction of police altercations result in death. Although one-off anecdotes prove nothing, when we hear an unending stream of reports of police abusing black people, we need to take that seriously. Whereas white Americans are roughly split on whether police use too much or too little force, black Americans overwhelmingly say police use too much force. I personally have gotten away with interacting with police officers in a way that very likely would have resulted in police violence had I been black. (In one of those instances, I was clearly in the wrong; in another, I was making a reasonable complaint.) The murder of George Floyd was the point of an iceberg. However, I do think there’s a deeper sense in which Mac Donald is partly right. I think a larger problem than police abusing black people is police abusing disempowered people, people unlikely to raise hell among elected officials and hire high-powered attorneys. I think in many cases police abuse black people (when they do) not fundamentally because they are black but because they lack the status to do much about the abuse. There is a deeper sense in which that problem, too, is largely the result of institutional racism.

Property Destruction as Violence

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Nikole Hannah-Jones said, “Violence is when an agent of the state kneels on a man’s neck until all of the life is leached out of his body. Destroying property, which can be replaced, is not violence. To use the same language to describe those two things is not moral.”

It is obviously true that murdering a man is a much higher order of moral crime that breaking someone’s shop windows, vandalizing a building, looting a store, or even burning a store down. No doubt.

But obviously destroying someone’s property is a type of violence against the person. As I replied, “There have been many, many white riots to destroy the property of African Americans, Asian Americans, and other racial minorities. That was violence, because destroying a person’s livelihood or home undermines the person’s life.”

Thankfully, today insurance covers much of the damage of the rioting and looting, which means simply that the rioters and looters impose the costs of repair and replacement on their neighbors via their insurance premiums.

Render on Floyd’s Death

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Michael Santiago Render (“Killer Mike”) gave a powerful speech in Atlanta. He strongly condemned the “assassination” of George Floyd. Then he added, “It is your duty not to burn your own house down for anger with an enemy.” He urges people to “plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize” for real change. It’s a powerful talk that everyone should watch.

Covering the George Floyd Protests

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Elena Rivera warns against biased language in covering the protests, and she recommends some background reading.

Lives Matter

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

My June 3 Tweet: “Black lives matter. Uighur lives matter. Rohingya lives matter. North Korean lives matter. Hong Kong lives matter. Venezuelan lives matter. Gay lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Apostate lives matter. Lives matter.”

Neily on America’s Rotten Criminal Justice System

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Clark Neily of the Cato Institute is out with a scorcher, appropriately. He discusses the problems of overcriminalization, “coercive plea bargaining,” and little “accountability for police and prosecutors.”

My idea for reforming plea bargaining is simply to say that prosecutors may not threaten anyone with a sentence of more than, say, 1.5 or 2 times what they’d otherwise get via a jury trial. I’m not sure, thought.

Update: Neily recommends, “Other reforms Congress should consider in the longer term include a statutory cap on the notorious ‘trial penalty,’ which is the often substantial differential between the sentence offered in a plea bargain and the much harsher sentence the defendant will receive if he exercises his right to trial; imposing a legal duty on prosecutors to provide materially favorable evidence to the defense before any plea discussions occur, something that is not always done currently; and the elimination of absolute prosecutorial immunity, a judicially invented legal doctrine that makes it impossible for victims of even the most blatant misconduct to sue prosecutors for anything they do in the course of their prosecutorial duties.” Neily also suggests that juries be fully informed, including about the criminal penalties at play.

Some years ago the “libertarian moment” came and fizzled. Now, it seems to me, the “libertarian moment” has arrived, at least in terms of a major line of thinking of the better libertarians, with criminal justice reform.

George Floyd’s Autopsy

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Dr. Judy Melinek reviews the facts surrounding the death of George Floyd. Here is a key paragraph: “The fact that Floyd appears to be talking to the officer and the officer is taking notes suggests that Floyd is engaging in dialogue. The gait disturbance suggests that Floyd may have been under the influence of alcohol or some other drug that could affect his balance. The grimace as he is being handled suggests that the cuffs are on too tight or that he is in pain during this encounter as the officer pulls up on his cuffed arms. Here’s what I don’t see: I don’t see someone who appears to be suffering from excited delirium when drugs of abuse can cause agitation, hyperthermia, and sudden death. Floyd is not naked or dressed inappropriately for the weather. He does not appear to be sweating profusely. He does not appear to be agitated or violent.”

Another key bit: “There are many reasons why people might say ‘I can’t breathe’ and still be in medical distress. These reasons include increasing fatigue of respiratory muscles; blockage of pulmonary blood flow; incomplete airway obstruction; and acidosis, a buildup of acid in the blood which triggers an increased breathing rate and causes the sensation of shortness of breath.”

Melinek also discusses the details of the first autopsy and the serious difficulties off trying to perform a second autopsy. She concludes that, contributing factors notwithstanding, “The cause of death is police restraint.”

Police Attack Peaceful Protesters

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

This story is just sickening. Derrick Sanderlin is a charity worker in San Jose, California, and he has spent three years training police on how to avoid racial bias. During a protest, he peacefully put himself between police and the peaceful protesters toward whom the police were shooting rubber projectiles. The police shot Sanderlin in the groin with such a projectile, causing serious damage requiring surgery, and perhaps costing the man his opportunity to have children. This is why district attorneys need to criminally charge abusive cops. This is why qualified immunity must end. This abuse is an outrage.

Police attacked Maredith Michael, a medic attempting to care for protesters injured by police.

A black firefighter told Caroline Goggin how, days earlier, police had drawn their guns on him for no good reason. (The incident in question didn’t happen at a protest, but I thought I’d throw it in here.)

This is a crazy story: “Law enforcement agents have seized hundreds of cloth masks that read ‘Stop killing Black people’ and ‘Defund police’ that a Black Lives Matter-affiliated organization sent to cities around the country to protect demonstrators against the spread of COVID-19.” Eventually authorities released the masks. But what the hell?

Lisa Song writes, “Tear Gas Is Way More Dangerous Than Police Let On — Especially During the Coronavirus Pandemic.”

“Rubber bullets” can cause severe physical damage.

Videos Show Cops Slashing Car Tires at Protests in Minneapolis.”

A Philadelphia officer faces charges after striking a protester in the heat with an implement.

Police Targeting NLG [National Lawyers Guild] Legal Observers at Black Lives Matter Protests.”

Rioting and Vandalism

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

If you want justice, be just. Hurting innocent people and destroying their property is anti-justice.

For over a week now, huge numbers of people have peacefully protested the death of George Floyd and abusive policing more broadly.

A few people have instead turned to rioting and looting. Following are a few examples.

A black woman in Brooklyn condemns the looting and vandalism of a shop that she co-owns. She says to the looters, “You tell me, ‘Black Lives Matter.’ You lie. You wanted to loot a store. You needed money. Get a job, like I do. Stop stealing. This is the neighborhood. We’re trying to build it up, and you’re tearing it down.”

Looters attack groceries in impoverished neighborhoods.”

Vandals damaged a Winston Churchill statute. Whatever Churchill’s flaws, he played a major role in defeating the Nazis. He is arguably the greatest “antifascist” of all time.

I have no idea who is placing bricks at various protest sites, but my top two guesses are leftist provocateurs and racial nationalist provocateurs.

Health Experts Debate Protests during a Pandemic

Sunday, June 7th, 2020

Carl Bergstrom writes, “Many people have asked me whether the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests around the country pose a risk of increasing coronavirus spread. As a scientist, I acknowledge that they may. As a citizen, I wholeheartedly support the protests nonetheless.” He worries that police use of tear gas “exacerbate matters substantially.” He adds, “Especially in areas without aggressive police responses, I do not expect a greater burst of COVID transmission due to protest than due to reopening activity.”

Eric Feigl-Ding writes, “I’m nervous about such big rallies during pandemic. . . . Definitely wear masks, but they are not fool proof. But I’ve [been] incredibly torn. BLM is an important movement to support.” He worries that U.S. cases have been increasing. He continues, “As public health scientists, we would lose the moral high ground of science if we conveniently dismiss dangers of these high human density & high vocal shouting in these rallies, all while previously telling people you can’t see your family on their death beds or funerals.”

Tom Frieden writes, “Some very large, densely packed crowds at protests yesterday. Although outdoors WAY less risky than indoors, and although the vast majority of people protesting wore masks, crowding and large numbers increase risk of spread.”

Trevor Bedfor writes, “There is no doubt that mass gatherings facilitate transmission. This study investigates seroprevalence in Gangelt, Germany, finding a 2.5X increase in rate of infection of those attending carnival celebrations. . . . Wearing masks and protesting outdoors has to help, but shouting, tear gas, pepper spray and closely packed jails will increase transmission potential.”

Jonah Goldberg refers to “the treason of epidemiologists,” which is rather much, and which doesn’t account for various relevant views.

Meanwhile, let’s remember Bill de Blasio’s April 28 Tweet: “My message to the Jewish community, and all communities, is this simple: the time for warnings has passed. I have instructed the NYPD to proceed immediately to summons or even arrest those who gather in large groups. This is about stopping this disease and saving lives. Period.” The “period” has been changed to a “comma, but.”

Denver Police Attack Protesters

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Protester shot in the face with pepper ball by Denver police demands accountability.”

Conspiracy Theories about George Floyd’s Death

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Jason Salzman, who monitors Republican and conservative social media and radio, wrote, “Mesa County, Colo, Republicans Remove Facebook Post Speculating That George Floyd’s Death Was Faked.”

Libertarians for Police Reform

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Libertarians long have been at the forefront of calling for criminal justice reform. Back in the 1990s I read a Cato report criticizing the drug war. Walter Olsen reviews some of Cato’s work on the matter.

Jeffrey Miron has out a new article, “Police Violence and the Racist Drug War.”

Ridley on COVID-19

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Matt Ridley is hopeful that the recent protests will not much spread COVID-19, because the events are outdoors and largely involve younger people. He also thinks that maybe a large fraction of people are basically invulnerable to the disease, which implies a population could reach “natural” herd immunity at a much lower level of infection than commonly assumed.

Denver Police Attack Reporters

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Corey Hutchins rounds up examples of Denver police attacking reporters during the George Floyd protests, mainly by shooting non-lethal projectiles at them and teargassing them. I don’t think anyone is saying that the police intentionally targeted reporters, but neither did they try very hard to avoid hurting them. The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition also condemns the violence against journalists and lists several cases of such violence. A federal judge forbade Denver police to use teargas and projectiles on peaceful people.

Trump Emboldens Tyrants

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

With his authoritarian rhetoric, Donald Trump emboldens tyrants in China, Russia, and Iran.

Limits on Police in Seattle and Denver

Saturday, June 6th, 2020

Seattle mayor bans use of tear gas on protesters for 30 days.”

Federal judge orders police not to use chemical weapons, projectiles against peaceful Denver protesters.” Judge R. Brooke Jackson wrote, “The Court has reviewed video evidence of numerous incidents in which officers used pepper-spray on individual demonstrators who appeared to be standing peacefully, some of whom were speaking to or yelling at the officers, none of whom appeared to be engaging in violence or destructive behavior.” However, the judge seemed to excuse or at least tolerate the destruction of property, whereas I think police can and should keep the peace by protecting peaceful protesters and property owners.

Update: “Judge modifies order limiting DPD’s use of less-lethal devices during protests.”

Meanwhile, “Minneapolis bans police chokeholds in wake of Floyd’s death.”

Pennsylvania: “Gov. Tom Wolf announces law enforcement reforms in wake of George Floyd protests.”

Arizona attorney general calls for third-party oversight of police brutality investigations, says he’s up for the job.”

King’s “Other America”

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Martin Luther King Jr. said in his “Other America” speech: “Certain conditions continue to exist in our society, which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”

Police Attack Protesters

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Denver resident suing the city over alleged misuse of less-lethal force during protests speaks out.”

Denver police open investigation after viral video shows cops firing pepper balls at car as man screams his pregnant girlfriend is inside.”

Reason: “Buffalo Police Seriously Injure 75-Year-Old Man During Protest.”

COVID-19 and the George Floyd Protests

Friday, June 5th, 2020

KPCW: “Tear-Gassing Protesters During An Infectious Outbreak Called ‘A Recipe For Disaster.'” Amesh Adalja said, “If [protesters are] coughing, the particles actually emanate and are projectiles that travel about six feet or so and could land on other people. This is a way to almost induce the virus to be expelled from people when they are exposed to these agents.”

Police Injured in Riots

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Although I loathe citing the Federalist, it publishes a useful article cataloging police injuries and deaths during the recent protests.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “A retired St. Louis police captain and municipal chief [David Dorn] was shot to death by looters at a St. Louis pawn shop early Tuesday, and his killing apparently was broadcast on Facebook Live.”

How to Curb Police Abuses

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Policy Changes

Ban choke holds, curb other kinds of force.

Fire bad cops, which involves reforms in police union contracts.

Increase police transparency.

Increase community oversight of police.

Make it easier to move investigations of police abuses to state or other outside offices.

End qualified immunity, move to individual liability insurance for police officers.

Demilitarize the police.

End the drug war and repeal other unjust laws.

Shift to community policing as useful.

Where appropriate have mental health professionals respond to a situation rather than police.

Personal Actions

Elect district attorneys and attorneys general committed to equal treatment under the law and the prosecution of police officers for criminal violation of others’ rights.

Elect politicians keen on criminal-justice reform.

Record police actions.




Me: “Six Steps Toward Ending Police Abuses.”

Jacob Sullum, Reason: “5 Ways to Curtail Police Violence and Prevent More Deaths Like George Floyd’s”

Shikha Dalmia, Week: “How police unions actually hurt police officers.”

Samuel Sinyangwe thread and Campaign Zero research.

David Lane: “Qualified immunity is killing civil rights”: It’s also killing people.

Rob Gillezeau summarizes preliminary work on police collective bargaining: “The introduction of access to collective bargaining drives a modest decline in policy employment and increase in compensation with no meaningful impacts on total crime, violent crime, property crime or officers killed in the line of duty. What does change? We find a substantial increase in police killings of civilians over the medium to long run (likely after unions are established).”

Police Attacking Journalists

Friday, June 5th, 2020

ACLU: “Police are Attacking Journalists at Protests. We’re Suing.” (This pertains to the protests regarding George Floyd.)

AP: New York: “Police shove, make AP journalists stop covering protest.”

Background Facts about George Floyd

Friday, June 5th, 2020

Nothing can justify the police killing George Floyd. Yet we should seek to put the full set of relevant facts on the table. NPR: “Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system at the time of his death.” (Floyd also tested positive for COVID-19.) BBC: Floyd “was arrested for robbery in 2007 and served five years in prison.” The Daily Mail has more details about Floyd’s past crimes. Video does show Floyd struggling with officers in the back of a police vehicle prior to police pinning him on the ground (CNN). Although, again, police should not have used more force than necessary to subdue Floyd, facts about the drugs in his system and him resisting arrest surely will come up at the officers’ trials.

White Privilege Reconsidered

Friday, June 5th, 2020

On June 3 I Tweeted, “Here again is why I think “white privilege” language is counter-productive. It’s not a “privilege” to be treated fairly under the law, it’s a right. We’re talking about protecting everyone’s rights, not giving more people ‘privileges.'”

After getting some pushback, I added, “If we follow the etymology—’law applying to one person,’—we can say that legal ‘privileges’ are inherently unjust. Obviously there have been racially ‘privileged’ laws in the U.S., overt (now illegal), and subtle (e.g. crack-powder cocaine sentencing).” And: “It’s obviously true that a) many laws are unjust and b) reasonable laws often are enforced in racially disparate ways (which is unjust). If you want to call those legal ‘privileges,’ fine. But the proper aim remains to repeal unjust laws and to enforce just laws justly.”

Gordon Ingram pointed out that black people more often are denied their rights.