George Floyd should be alive.

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck while arresting him on May 25, including for nearly 3 minutes after Floyd stopped moving, according to court records, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Chauvin has been fired, as have the three other officers involved.

Rightfully so.

Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter

Also rightfully so.

Even more serious criminal charges against Chauvin might be warranted; the available evidence suggests this is so. The three other officers could be accused of crimes as well.

The police station in Minneapolis that was burned by arsonists on Friday should still be standing. So should the other buildings damaged or destroyed in the Twin Cities, in Portland, in Chicago and in every other city where such things have happened.

This is not a case of moral equivalencies.

Floyd’s life is infinitely more valuable than any number of buildings.

But none of these actions is defensible, even though Floyd’s murder is far worse than the others. To say so in no way diminishes the tragedy of Floyd’s death, or takes away even a scintilla of Chauvin’s culpability.

It’s eminently logical to believe both that people shouldn’t die needlessly and that buildings shouldn’t be destroyed or damaged needlessly.

We don’t have to choose only one event to lament.

People are angry about Floyd’s death. And about the deaths of other people, many of them black men, who died at the hands of police when they shouldn’t have over the years.

People should be angry.

They have taken to the streets of Minneapolis and many other cities, as is their constitutional right.

Their message is a powerful one, and it should be broadcast as widely, and as loudly, as righteous people can muster. To solve this problem — and it has no simple solutions — we must acknowledge that it exists.

Those relatively few who seem to be responsible for the arson fires and the looting turn down the volume on that message. They deflect attention from where it should be focused, and where most of the demonstrators are trying to focus it, which is on the deaths of Floyd and others.

— Jayson Jacoby, Baker City Herald editor

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(1) comment

Dan Collins

As someone who grew up in Alabama in the 60's, witnessed the civil rights movement firsthand, I've seen this movie before.

Over half a century later, things are only marginally better. So there is indeed work to be done. The sad fact is we as humans tend to grade people according to skin color kinda by default. It's doubtful we'll ever overcome this and they'll still be fighting it a 100 years from now.

What is going to change is the white dominance of western culture. People of color are now coming into political power. You better hope they treat us better than we treated them...

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