The jury that found a racist police officer in Minneapolis guilty on three charges — two of murder and one of manslaughter — was an all-too-rare case of a community recognizing the racism that exists in their police department and the guts to punish one of the department’s practitioners.
As court officers led fired police officer Derek Cuauvin away to jail after conviction by the jury in Minneapolis Tuesday for the murder of George Floyd, the community, relieved that justice was finally delivered against a murderous, racist cop in their midst.
Far too often, cops who killed blacks in cities around America are either never charged for their crimes or acquitted, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
In Floyd County, we are fortunate to have a police department that has not stooped to racial profiling or violence against minorities. Under the leadership of Sheriff Brian Craig, we have a professional department that includes more minorities and women in their ranks. Their training is considered first-rate. Their devotion to duty is commendable.
Elsewhere in the Old Dominion, the same cannot be said of other departments, large and small. Fairfax County is struggling after one of its now-former officers targeted minorities and stole evidence from its own storage to plant on minorities during illegal traffic stops. A District of Columbia firefighter lost his job because of the actions of Jonathan Freitag that led to a prison sentence before a judge brought the man home from prison and moved to exonerate him last Friday.
Police officers in Henry County, Danville, Richmond, and elsewhere are under investigation. The list grows. Unfortunately, final justice is too often lacking.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to vacate these cases” handled by Freitag, Fairfax County Commonwealth’s Attorney Steve Descano told reporters after the judge’s hearing Friday. “Virginia law does not even conceive of this being a necessary step.”
It is, however, a step that must be taken locally, statewide and throughout the nation.
Conservative columnist Max Boot notes that racism has oozed out of America’s slime and into the nation’s mainstream.
He writes of the Republican Party, which is the majority party in Floyd County but, thankfully, not Virginia:
That was a very telling comment that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) posted on Twitter last week. He noted that tweets from President Biden’s account “are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional” and that his “public comments are largely scripted.” In Cornyn’s mind, this “invites the question: is he really in charge?”
On one level, this shows a senior Republican senator — someone who is seen as a staid establishmentarian — trying to spread smarmy insinuations that the president has lost his marbles and is being manipulated by shadowy leftists. That’s an article of faith on the conspiratorial far right that has now migrated to the mainstream despite the total lack of any substantiating evidence. When called out by Chris Wallace on Fox News, Cornyn retreated to the usual, despicable defense of conspiracy theorists: “I simply asked a question.” I didn’t say the moon landing was faked — I was only asking if it was!
But what is even more disturbing about Cornyn’s tweet is the upside-down assumption that it’s normal for a president to spew deranged, ungrammatical, abusive tweets — and that there is something wrong with a president who refuses to do so. Most people thought that President Donald Trump’s tweets were bonkers — but for a large portion of the GOP, they have now become the standard by which his successors will be judged. Republicans have gone down the rabbit hole where sanity and sobriety are inexplicable and indeed suspicious.
I see such problems here in Floyd County, where Republicans rant on social media about Black Lives Matter, Antifa and other right-wing extremism with racial overtones.
Our county has a wannabe “militia” that occupies leadership posts in the local Republican party, which is promoting a county resident who owns a BBQ restaurant and a soul food operation in Christiansburg while claiming she will be a “Trump in heels” if she is elected delegate.
Too many pickups in this county display the Confederate battle flag. Some parade around with AR assault style rifles. They claim they are “protecting us.” Who, we wonder is protecting us from nutcases like them?
“As I have said before, this is a party that is beyond salvation,” Boot writes. “I just wish Republicans didn’t insist on proving that bleak judgement right right with dismaying regularity.”
(WRITER’S NOTE: I served as a GOP operative from 1981-86 for the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee, and the National Republican Senate Committee. In the 1984 presidential election, I was the principal writer for the Reagan Campaign’s “Voices for Victory” program. I left in anger at the party’s racism and homophobia continued to grow. I consider that involvement a low point in my professional life that I now apologize for and denounce.)