The video of George Floyd being slowly suffocated by a police officer on the streets of Minneapolis while three fellow officers looked on is sickening. It represents a disgusting abuse of power, and all four cops should go to jail for murder. I think it’s safe to say that most of the world agrees. People are marching in in the streets across the country and around the world in the name of George Floyd.
The outrage and anger is understandable, but blaming all police officers is not. The overwhelming majority of cops are good people doing a dangerous job. They became police officers to serve and protect, and 99.9 percent honor their duty.
The Police Officers oath states: “On my honor, I will never betray my badge, my integrity, my character or the public trust. I will always have the courage to hold myself and others accountable for our actions.”
Cops take this oath very seriously, and even risk their lives defending it. Think of it this way: when someone breaks into your home, whom do you call? When you’re involved in a car accident, who shows up to help? When any crime occurs, who is the first one on the scene to offer assistance? The police, that’s who. And we’re darn lucky they do. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to chase bad guys with guns, break up domestic disputes and risk my life for a living. It’s a thankless job, and I sleep well at night knowing that they’re out there keeping watch.
Police officers say goodbye to their families every morning not knowing if they’ll ever return. Day in and day out, they’re placed in harms way. They are true heroes among us, people we should be thanking, not attacking.
Growing up in Chicago during the Vietnam War, I have vivid memories of people spitting on soldiers at O’Hare Airport as they returned home. Protesters held up signs at the gates calling them “Baby killers” and “Murders.” They screamed vulgarities at the soldiers as they deplaned.
Today, we treat soldiers like the heroes they always were. We insist they board before First Class and we applaud them. Over the past 45 years our nation has grown up and evolved, yet we are now at risk of slipping back into the cultural ignorance of the past.
I saw the video of George Floyd’s death and it made me sick. It’s yet another example of abuse of power, racism and inhumanity. Not just from four crooked cops, but from our countries checkered past. Black people are enraged for a reason, and it didn’t begin with the murder of George Floyd. White men enslaved blacks for the first 90 years of our republic, which is the ultimate abuse of power, racism and inhumanity. And for the next 100 years we lynched them, denied them every human right possible, segregated them in everything from schools to drinking fountains and treated them as though they were less than human. This isn’t my opinion; this is our history. So instead of pinning the blame on 800,000 police officers, open a history book and you’ll see where the bad cops learned to be bad. They had a good teacher named America.
Yes, 99.9 percent of police officers are heroes. To judge the majority by the behavior of the minority is a classic, anti-critical thinking mistake, and as a nation, we must direct our anger where it belongs. This means rooting out the bad cops and the systemic racism that simmers in the underbelly of the United States.
Contrary to what some people believe, police officers are on our side. In fact, in cities across the country where protests broke out, cops have been marching in solidarity, and praying, hugging and kneeling with protesters. They want equality and justice as much as everyone else.
In any group of 800,000 people, there is always going to be a tiny percentage of racists and abusers. A minuscule fraction of any profession has liars, cheaters and thieves. There will always be dishonest thugs who tarnish the good work of others, yet that doesn’t give anyone the right to lump the majority in with the corrupt few.
George Floyd’s death is a tragedy, and hopefully justice will be served. While peaceful protests can lead to meaningful change, let’s protest the abuse of power and racism not only of bad cops, but also of any American citizen or institution that practices it.
Like many police officers across the country, let us literally and figuratively lock arms with the good cops, good people and all of those that support human rights for all.
Steve Siebold is author of the book ‘Sex, Politics, Religion: How Delusional Thinking is Destroying America.’ www.MentalToughnessBlog.com