As millions of people across the country were horrified to watch video footage of a Minneapolis police officer murder a black man in broad daylight by pressing his knee on the man’s neck, restricting normal respiratory function thereby causing the man to die, it may seem odd that as a 20-years-plus civil rights advocate, I do not blame Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd (“Witness who was in car says George Floyd didn’t resist arrest: ‘I’m going to always remember seeing the fear in Floyd’s face,'” June 4).
Why now have city authorities in Minneapolis fired Mr. Chauvin after disregarding and dismissing complaints filed against him nearly every single year of his employment with the department? Why has the department chosen this incident to abandon Mr. Chauvin after years of supporting his very behavior that has now led to the death of Mr. George Floyd?
And why fire the other three officers? All they did was practice the same policy of supporting fellow officers, just as the police internal affairs office did with each complaint filed against Mr. Chauvin, even in the midst of committing crimes and violating the public trust.
Had the city held Mr. Chauvin accountable for any of the 15 complaints in the 19 years he served in the department, quite possibly George Floyd would be alive today. Certainly, had the department held the officer accountable after the tenth complaint and terminated his employment back then, Mr. Floyd would be alive today!
Mr. Chauvin was only the mechanism that killed Mr. Floyd, officials in Minneapolis put the mechanism into place, they empowered that mechanism, they enabled that mechanism by not holding him accountable in the years past. Therefore, he isn’t to blame for Mr. Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis Police Department is to blame for his death, the chief of police for the Minneapolis Police Department is to blame for his death, the city council and mayor of Minneapolis are to blame for his death.
Mr. Chauvin only did what the city of Minneapolis has allowed him to do as authorities turned a blind eye for nearly two decades.
Jonathan R. Burrs, Hagerstown
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