Excessive Force Protests Met With Force
Police in this country just don’t seem to get it.
Protesters have taken to the streets of every major city in America by the thousands, and many smaller cities and towns by the hundreds, to demonstrate against law-enforcement’s use of excessive force, particularly against people of color. So how have these cops responded?
By using even more force.
In the week since demonstrations began in the wake of white police officer Derek Chauvin squeezing the life out of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, there has been example after example of cops going overboard on protesters and deliberately targeting working journalists.
Examples abound in Louisville, Atlanta, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., and these are just the incidents we have seen recorded. Day after day, cops are caught on camera tear-gassing, firing rubber bullets and pepper-spraying peaceful protesters, photographers, reporters, cameramen and even well-known television personalities.
In Louisville, the chief of police has been fired after law-enforcement shot and killed a BBQ chef who reportedly used to feed cops for free. Officers involved in the shooting never turned on their body-cameras, even though it was department policy for them to do so. This is the same city where a cop was filmed on live TV shooting pepper balls at a reporter and her cameraman.
In Atlanta, six police officers have been charged with battery and aggravated assault after they were caught on video manhandling and using stun guns on two young men in a car, and the recording was posted on social media.
In Kansas City, a handful of officers were caught on camera approaching and pepper-spraying a man who was yelling at them from 20 yards away. That video was also uploaded to social media, where it has been viewed by several million people.
One would think the cops of Minneapolis would be extra cautious at the moment, given that they sparked the ongoing nationwide turmoil. But one would be wrong.
Minneapolis cops in the last week have been seen, in one viral video, firing paint balls and screaming, “light ’em up,” at onlookers standing on the front porch of their home. They have arrested CNN news reporter Omar Jimenez and his film crew, who were standing on an empty street, on live TV. They also shot MSNBC reporter Ali Velshi in the leg with a rubber bullet and yelled, “We don’t care,” after he identified himself as a journalist.
Meanwhile, Minnesota State Patrol officers shamelessly fired tear gas at Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fisk and her photographer from point-blank range after the pair identified themselves as journalists. This was moments after they pepper-sprayed a black woman in the face who had her hands raised.
Finally, in Washington, D.C., an Australian journalist was slammed in the stomach with a riot shield as he was filming U.S. Park Police clearing a peaceful protest so that President Donald Trump could walk across the street and pose in front of a church with a Bible.
Attacking peaceful protesters and journalists is usually the domain of third-world countries run by authoritarian leaders, not the United States. Considering cops are doing it with cameras rolling, and phones recording, indicates just how much they believe they can act with impunity. It almost seems as if police across the country are deliberately trying to prove the protesters’ point for them, because that is exactly what they keep doing.