Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Root Cause of the Minneapolis Riots

Most people would ascribe the cause of the riots this weekend in Minneapolis and around the country to racism against black men. (I suppose that would technically be racism and sexism against black men)  Although clearly there is racism against black men in this country, I think the true root cause is deeper.

Last Monday George Floyd was killed while being detained by a Minneapolis police officer. "Detained" is too nice of a word. Floyd lay on the ground while the officer knelt on his neck until he died. Three other officers watched but did not intervene.

The death sparked massive peaceful protests as well as rioting which included arson, looting and wanton destruction. Many of the business destroyed were minority and family owned. It was incredibly sad to see. 

It is especially disheartening because I live in the Twin Cities. In St. Paul, my hometown, we have a black mayor and a city council dominated by minorities. Which as a minority majority city, is a good representation of the population. Minneapolis has a black police chief and has in the past had a black mayor. Many police officers and other government officials are are black or minority. We like to think of ourselves as above racism. But we are not. We actually have some of the worst disparities between minorities and whites in education, employment and standard of living.

But it was not racism that caused George Floyd's death. It was the reality that some people are immune or nearly immune from criminal actions. Most police officers are good. But the bad ones soon find out that it is a great career if you like to be a bully and criminal because you are nearly immune from prosecution. Just like lawyers in family court soon find out that they can commit fraud with impunity. In both cases evidence rarely of ever matters.

When people do not believe that the law is fairly and equally applied, they lose respect for the law. The result? An increase in crime every day and explosive riots every so often.

We need equality under the law. We need rule of law.

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