Nights of Living Dread: Rodney King, Kokito and George Floyd

On March 12, 2018, a dog, Kokito, died after a flight attendant placed the pet carrier with the animal in it in the overhead compartment of a United Airlines flight. On March 15, 2018  Sens. John Kennedy (R-La.) proposed the WOOFF1 act and was joined by Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.). The bipartisan act was signed into law in October of 2018. Some people still have trouble understanding black lives matter and bristle and retort all lives matter.  Here is the thing, in America, blacks were considered 3/5ths of a person, were kidnapped and sold and not allowed to vote, not allowed to have weapons. I’ll just stop with all the indignities, the point is we have been treated as disposable. Treated as if our pain, our suffering is inconsequential. We’ve seen more outrage over the treatment of animal versus the treatment of 15-year-old bikini clad Dajerria Becton who was slammed to the ground by a police officer breaking up a pool party. Black Lives Matter is a plea for parity. It is painful to watch outrage about a dog and swift action versus the doubt and rational made when black and brown people have violent police interactions.

Body cameras for police started in 2009 and seem to be a dismal failure in providing accountability. All four officers involved in George Floyd’s detainment were wearing body cameras that captured the event and yet the report read:

Man dies after medical incident during police intervention

He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”

Initial police report calling George Floyd’s murder a “medical incident” goes viral after Chauvin guilty verdict

It took a video from a 17-year-old girl, Darnella Frazier, that went viral to lead to action. There were witnesses, there was body camera footage and yet, well you just read the report. Nothing happened until the video went viral and the world joined in protest. What if there were no third party video?

Then again, thirty years ago, a third party video showed 4 police officers using batons, stun guns, feet and fists to beat Rodney King who as result was left with skull fractures, broken bones and teeth and permanent brain damage. The 4 officers were acquitted despite the video and witness testimony of Mr. King and George Holiday, a nearby resident who captured the attack and turned the video over to LAPD. Even with Mr. Holiday’s video, there was no guilty verdict.

On Tuesday, Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. It is but one small weary step on the path to justice against the rising tide of hate and fear mongering. For me, there was no cause for celebration just short relief. Only 38% of white Americans see George Floyd’s death as a murder. When news pundits can take to the air like Tucker Carlson and say, the guilty verdict was because the jurors were intimidated and went on to say this is the end of civilization as we know it. That small sense of relief I had is shattered into the abyss. Mr. Carlson has the highest rated cable news program ever with a nightly average of 4.33 million viewers. Tucker, how can you discount more than 9 minutes of video, witness testimony, police testimony and reduce it to political machinations? How can you ignore the defendant had 18 complaints of excessive use of force? How can you deny this was a fair trial that followed judicial process and not be aware of the collateral damage of your words? How can I not fell dread?

That keeps me up at night. The death of a dog triggered outrage and immediate action by congress and new policies put in place by United Airlines. The murder of a black man, seen on video, that spark protest around the world is questioned, challenged and politicized. We’re at a tipping point. This week, consider which way we’re going to go and what is your role in it.

There are so many ways of being despicable it quite makes one’s head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other people’s pain.

James Baldwin


1Welfare Of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act This bill directs the Federal Aviation Administration to promulgate regulations: (1) prohibiting the storage of a live animal in an overhead compartment of a flight in air transportation, and (2) establishing fines for a violation of such prohibition. The Welfare of Our Furry Friends (WOOFF) Act was signed into law in October as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization. Introduced after a French bulldog died when an attendant insisted on stowing him in an overhead bin during a long flight, the WOOFF Act

Note: when I started this post earlier this week, the police record was here; is has since been removed //www.insidempd.com/2020/05/26/man-dies-after-medical-incident-during-police-interaction

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