In a rarely seen display of indignation with people in their own profession, police across the country have taken to social media this week to publicly condemn the Minneapolis officers involved in the appalling custody death of George Floyd.
“There is no need to see more video,” said David Roddy, the police chief in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
“There no need to wait to see how ‘it plays out,'" he tweeted. "There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this... turn it in.”
Roddy’s unprecedented language is being echoed across the U.S. as disappointed and outraged police officers urge authorities to punish the four cops involved in Monday’s horrific incident. Their statements stand in stark contrast to the typical silence or support for police following in-custody deaths — even as critics call their denunciation empty words.
Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died shortly after a white officer pressed his knee against his neck for more several minutes while the handcuffed suspect begged for air and repeatedly pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. The whole incident, which was prompted by a forgery investigation, was captured on video and the footage has sparked massive protests across the city and the country.
“Let me start this by saying... I AM SORRY,” said Anthony Johnson, an Ohio police officer known as the “dancing cop.”
“On behalf of every good cop out there... we apologize,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Thursday. “If you have ever been mistreated by the police... we are sorry. I’m sorry you had to see what you seen... feel what you felt... and live with the trauma caused by the those actions. Please accept this apology and know that those officers DO NOT speak for the majority of us."
Let me start this by saying... I AM SORRY. On behalf of every good cop out there... we apologize. If you have ever been mistreated by the police... we are sorry. I’m sorry you had to experience what you did... I’m sorry you had to see what you seen... feel what you felt... and live with the trauma caused by the those actions. Please accept this apology and know that those officers DO NOT speak for the majority of us. With that said... I will not address the video. There is no need. We have all seen it and know how disgusting it is. But I will address two things. 1. To every police officer reading this. Please understand people’s frustration and anger towards you during these times. I know these officers actions do not define who you are... but we wear the same uniform. We have to be the light right now. We have to show people that we can be trusted more now than ever. Keep your chin high... stay safe... and remind yourself why you took this job. 2. To everyone who is not a police officer. Know that we do NOT stand with the so called “officers” who tarnish our badge. I can proudly tell you I am yet to speak to an officer who even attempted to justify that video. I understand your frustration and anger... I am angry as well. Use that energy to appropriately effect change. Rioting and looting will solve nothing. These are businesses that someone worked hard to establish... businesses that more than likely had nothing to do with the incident or incidents. These are OUR communities we are burning down. I am praying for the Floyd family and everyone else effected. Never forget the power of prayer... combine it with faith and obedience. Let’s remind ourselves when Daniel was caught praying he was thrown into a den of lions... due to his prayer, faith, and obedience the lions mouths were shut... and he was not harmed. Let’s stand for justice together... let’s pray for change together... Stay prayed up... and stay safe. -AJ
A post shared by AJ (Anthony Johnson) (@ohnoitsdapopo) on May 28, 2020 at 7:12am PDT
In Georgia, meanwhile, Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats did not mince words calling for the Minneapolis officers to be criminally charged.
“I am deeply disturbed by the video of Mr. Floyd being murdered in the street with other officers there letting it go on,” he wrote on Facebook. “I can assure everyone, me or any of my deputies will never treat anyone like that as long as I’m Sheriff. This kind of brutality is terrible and it needs to stop. All Officers involved need to be arrested and charged immediately.”
But those words are being met with skepticism as the number of cops speaking out is still relatively small. Critics also say there’s much work to be done to dismantle the long-standing system of police racism in America.
“We’ve got to remember that it was not just Officer Chauvin who was sitting on George Floyd’s neck,” said Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles.
The arresting officer, Derek Chauvin, was accompanied by three colleagues who watched Floyd beg for mercy and slowly stop moving but did nothing to stop it. Two of them were also on top of the dying man while another stood inches away.
All four were fired the following day, but no one has been charged.
Not going hide behind “not being there.” I’d be one of the first to condemn anyone had I seen similar happen to one of my brother/ sister officers. What I saw happen to George Floyd disturbed me and is not consistent with the goal of our mission. The act of one, impacts us all.
— Chief Eddie Garcia (@sjpdchief) May 27, 2020
Civil rights attorney and professor Gloria Browne-Marshall said she wouldn’t be a “cheerleader” for a “handful” of police officers who decided to voice outrage by one particular incident.
“Any minute progress is seen as miraculous because so little has been done for so long,” she said. “It’s nothing close to progress or what outrage would be taking place if it was a white man as the victim of this assault.”
With News Wire Services