E Brutality, Riots And A Way Forward

people walking on street during night time

Sometimes there is a news item that crosses all the barriers. The coronavirus has become central to every discussion, from foreign policy to economics. The assessment of every leader has been filtered through its lens and every market swing seems dependent on the latest news and trends. Then, just as it seemed like nothing could displace the virus, another overwhelming issue has come to the fore - sharing the same potential impact on every aspect of our lives.

That is why I am writing about police brutality and riots on TalkMarkets.

In a recent piece on foreign policy, I suggested the focal point for US foreign policy should be the rule of law. I praised the fact that, for the most part, the US is a nation of laws. We fight our battles in elections and through the courts. But the U.S. is, like any nation, imperfect. Right now, we are witnessing a breakdown in the rule of law.

As the current reality unfolds, some will point to extra-legal actions by police: racism, killings, knees and choke holds. Others will point to extra-legal actions by protesters and rioters: shooting, looting and fires. Tellingly, the accusations are primarily based on the idea that the other side broke the law. 

Protesters' signs read "It shouldn't be illegal to be black."

This emphasis on legality is a good thing as it reflects a desire for the rule of law. It becomes a bad thing when people stop seeking legal redress for their situation. When they think the rule of law can not protect them, then the situation can quickly spiral to an extremely dangerous and new reality. Yugoslavia and Lebanon are two cases where ethnic struggle led to a breakdown in the rule of law and a collapse of society.

If we were in normal economic times these riots might be like others than have occurred in the past. They might come and go. But when combined with 30% unemployment, there is a danger than the situation will quickly burn out of control.

Facing this reality, it'd be nice to call for a moratorium on racism and an acceptance of the challenges of the jobs police have. It'd be nice to point to prosecutions and argue the law is being perfectly enforced. But people will be racist, justice will sometimes fail and policemen (and others) will continue to act outside the law. 

Humankind is imperfect. 

The goal of our legal systems is not to eliminate imperfection, it is to limit its impact on society as a whole.

Long-term, I think the situation demands fundamental changes to our educational system. At the end of this piece, I've included an excerpt from one of my books on this topic. However, these changes would take decades to have their full effect.

In the short-term, something more drastic is needed.

In 1790, the United States had a total population of 3.9 million people. The government was devolved into multiple states and cities, with the Federal government limited in its powers. A simple reading of the Constitution suggests a government with taxing and monetary powers, that enabled the unification of communications and commerce, that managed foreign policy and that oversaw some aspects of justice. Everything else was devolved. In a simple sense, local free citizens didn't want to hand over their power over regional and local priorities to a distant government that would not share those priorities. They wanted a government that was accountable to them.

At that time, Virginia was the largest state with 747,000 people (of whom only 455,000 were free). Pennsylvania came next with 434,000 people and then Massachusetts with 379,000.

These populations demanded some measure of autonomy because they did not share the priorities that a unified government would have.

Today, the Minneapolis Metro area has 3.6 million people. The city itself has 425,000 people. The Minneapolis Metropolitan area is almost as large as the United States in 1790 and the City of Minneapolis has almost as large a population as any state had free citizens in 1790. Despite this, Minneapolis has a unified city government. The police are organized into five precincts but serve a central police organization.

Citizens in Minneapolis various neighborhoods may well feel that the police force is not under their control. Back in 1790, even if all the citizens of Rhode Island voted, there was legitimate fear that a strong Federal government would fail to address their regional priorities and protect their local rights. The same thought process could be applied to a city like Minneapolis. Local areas within the City might legitimately feel that even if they vote, the central powers of the City government will not address their local priorities and rights.

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Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

I wrote a piece that brought together all the various policies under a single concept - empowering America... talkmarkets.com/.../empowering-america?post=265437

Michele Grant 1 year ago Member's comment

DRM, I'm curious to know what you think about the protests/riots. Who is behind them? What do you think should be done about it?

DRM 1 year ago Member's comment

Michele, thank you very much for your interest in my take on this. First of all, the apparent crimes committed by the four policemen, were horrific. However, what the protestors say they want, is unattainable, for a myriad of reasons, a few of which I will mention here. The protestors are marching against "Systemic Racism", and "White Privilege", which, in America, only exists in the minds of those who argue against it. Therefore, they are marching against something that doesn't exist, like Don Quixote battling windmills. The rioters on the other hand are made up of at least two groups, thieves and murderers, who steal and kill for personal gain and perverse pleasure and anarchists, like ANTIFA, who simply want to overthrow the current government and install a new government, having no clue what type government, just "knowing" that it will be different, probably a Marxist government, which will, like all Marxist governments in history, fail, morally, economically and socially. What should have been done, as soon as the protests turned into riots, was for the Governors to employ overwhelming numbers and sufficient force against the rioters to immediately stop them. Of course, at the time this would have seemed excessive, but the longer the governors wait, the more damage is done, the more blood is spilled and the more lives are lost. Violence should always be quelled immediately! Violence against people and violence against property. It should never be allowed or accepted by a peaceful society. About systemic racism and white privilege, there are several brilliant individuals, far more intelligent and qualified than me, who have hundreds of hours of arguments against the notion of systemic racism and white privilege posted on the internet. I recommend you look up Ben Shapiro, Dr. Jordan Peterson and Steven Crowder, to begin with. Finally, I believe that President Trump will have no choice, but to eventually invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy the armed forces to quell the riots.

Charles Howard 1 year ago Member's comment

Nice response, DRM.

DRM 1 year ago Member's comment


Barry Glassman 1 year ago Member's comment

I'm no expert in policing, but in regards to your suggestion of breaking up police stations into smaller "wards," they already have smaller precincts covering small areas. For example, when I lived in Manhattan, they had a precinct covering only about 30 blocks or so - separate ones for the East side and West side. And while I do agree that the police need to engage in more community building initiatives, I believe police are usually assigned to particular beats. I for one often recognized the same police patrolling my neighborhood.

And how can we trust people to hire their own police men? Would they be qualified? Properly trained? How can we be sure they wouldn't be corrupted or beholden to those who hired them? Who would be ultimately accountable for them.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

Just having a local police precinct is not the same as local control and accountability. Hiring and placement is city wide. So local individuals have much less say in who their police are than people in, say, Greenwich.

As far as trusting people to choose police, small towns all across the country do exactly this. You might want specialist services like labs to be available, but the beat cops would be locally chosen and managed.

You might recognize your cops but the chain of responsibility takes a long path before it connects you to them.

I spoke to corruption oversight. Im not sure large departments have any less corruption.

Duanne Johnson 1 year ago Member's comment

The problem isn't recognizing who the individual policemen are, it's a lack of trust that we have with police being able to see past the color of our skin. Have you seen the video? This person was not resisting and he was not armed. He had two policeman on his back and neck. He was begging to be allowed to breath and they simply watched him die. This would not have happened to a white man. Why could they simply not of put handcuffs on him. Why kill him? Why it may not have been intentional murder, it was clearly murder by indifference. They did not view #GeorgeFlynn as human.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

The protests aren't about this case. If the protests were just about this case, the murder charge would have set things to rest. If the protests were just about this case, condemnation by national police associations would have set things to rest.

The protests/riots are about broader issues. That's why I didn't talk much about this particular case. This particular case was just a catalyst for the latest flareup in a situation that has been ongoing for longer than there has been a United States.

Harry Goldstein 1 year ago Member's comment

Generally, I give the benefit of the doubt to the police. No one can know what it's like to be in their shoes, when they need to make a life and death decision in a blink of an eye. And if they guess wrong, they could be dead. But I have seen this video and it does not look good. Flynn does not seem to be resisting, and if he was prior to when the video started, he was certainly clearly subdued and not a threat at the time of his death. But there may be mitigating circumstances that we are unaware of.

I urge caution until all the facts come out. And riots and more violence is not the answer.

Duanne Johnson 1 year ago Member's comment

Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck even after other officers checked Floyd pulse and he had none. There's no excuse for that at all.

Seeking Alpha Reader 1 year ago Member's comment

Yes, that was odd. But from what I understand of the official autopsy report, Floyd did not die of asphyxiation but due to a combination of per-existing medical conditions and alcohol and drugs in his system.

The police were obviously trying to subdue, not kill. We don't know how much pressure was actually being applied but likely not much if that was not the cause of death. I think it's safe to assume that normal people would have survived this encounter. And if the levels of drugs and alcohol were high, then Floyd might have died anyway, even had the police not been called on him for trying to pass counterfeit bills.

Tracey Nichols 1 year ago Member's comment

The private autopsy that the Floyd family paid for said that he did die of asphyxiation.

Seeking Alpha Reader 1 year ago Member's comment

How do two coroners come up with two different causes of death? Not sure I'd trust the coroner paid for by the family.

Wendell Brown 1 year ago Member's comment

One of them is lying, that's for sure.

Duanne Johnson 1 year ago Member's comment

It seems to me you are trying to blame the victim and claiming he is a criminal so got what was coming to him. But the videos show he was not resisting arrest (despite the police claiming he was, unless they release the bodycam footage, there's no evidence of this). And regardless, this was far too much force to use. When someone says "I can't breathe," you get off their damn neck.

Trisha Brown 1 year ago Member's comment

People always blame the victim.

Joseph Cox 1 year ago Author's comment

How are police in NY responsible for a policeman's actions in Minneapolis? Although I completely agree the policeman was criminal/murderous in his actions (whether or not Floyd George asphyxiated), the protests/riots aren't about the specifics of *this* case. They are about a broader problem and that problem is a divide between communities and police. This divide shows itself in both police actions and community reactions.

Let's make communities responsible for their own beat cops - not some massive bureaucracy overseeing the policing of a half a million people. Let communities hire and fire their own patrols and determine how they want to manage them.

Why should somebody living in the Upper East Side be responsible for beat cops in the South Bronx? The South Bronx should be responsible for the South Bronx. The policing may or may not be *better*, but the accountability will be with the communities themselves.

The way we have things now is almost colonial. Poor neighborhoods are managed (badly) by professional bureaucrats in richer neighborhoods. This setup results in poor policing, terrible education etc... etc...

Just having a representative on some board is like Rhode Island being satisfied because they have a few seats in a Congress that manages every part of their lives. It isn't a recipe for responsibility or freedom.