By Kent R. Kroeger (Source: NuQum.com, April 21, 2021)
“We need to re-imagine policing and public safety in this country”
— Barack Obama, April 12, 2021
Today, as many people are expressing a sigh of relief at the conviction of Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin in the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, I was reminded of an essay I wrote a year ago about the too common use of excessive force by police in the enforcement of minor civil violations.
Many journalists and commentators have emphasized that the reason Minneapolis police engaged with George Floyd on May 25,2020 in the first place was over Floyd allegedly passing of a counterfeit $20 bill at a local convenience store — the presumption being that had this happened in an affluent community, the police never would have been called or, if they were called, would not have acted as they did towards Floyd.
“This man lost his life over a $20 bill?” singer-songwriter Tom Prasada-Rao lamented to a local Portsmouth, Virginia reporter.
But it is not just the Floyd incident. Here are other cases where the police used excessive (and sometimes deadly) force in the course of investigating a minor crime:
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner was killed after a New York City police officer used a prohibited chokehold during his arrest on suspicion of selling individual cigarette without the legally required tax stamps on the packs. (Video)
On Dec. 5, 2020, Windsor, Virginia police officers pulled over U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario, who was returning home from his duty station, for not having a rear license plate on his newly purchased Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. In the course of questioning Nazario, who initially refused to step out of his vehicle out of fear, the officers pulled their guns and sprayed him with a substance meant to subdue him. (Video)
More recently, on April 12, 2021, Daunte Wright, who had been pulled over for an expired registration tag on his car, was killed by a Brooklyn Center…