As media coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin began on March 29, many people were thinking about police officers.
For some, their thoughts went beyond Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is now on trial for using his knee to pin George Floyd until Floyd passed out and died. Among the consequences of Chauvin’s actions is that the reputation of millions of police officers all over the world who are examples of good policing are smeared by his actions.
People who love cops want to stick up for them. However, that can quickly devolve into the “us” against “them” dichotomy. And, in the snap of a finger, sides are taken, and lines are drawn.
Floyd’s death and the ongoing trial have evoked emotions that may have settled down from previous conflicts but have never been resolved. The issues lie in wait for the next incident.
Some people are quick to blame. They claim an officer shouldn’t have reacted in such a way, followed by justifiable accusations of the “blue wall” and institutional racism.
For way too long, issues about race, injustice and policing have consumed this nation. Emotions spiral with varying degrees of passion, but it seems the outcome is always the same. We’re just running in place, and nothing ever changes.
However, that’s untrue.
Social change in the United States is happening, but the changes grow subtlety and can be hard to see. Some folks wonder if change has to be instantly obvious to make a difference. They contend that a change in our perception of events will lead to a positive difference.
In any confrontation with a police officer, the personalities of those involved play a role in its outcome.
Acquaintances of those involved might rightfully contend that the civilian was always getting in trouble and the officer was the type of person with whom no one wanted to work. Such insights pertain to how effectively communities do the job of managing their own.
Many Americans believe that deadly escalations and chronic mistrust would be reduced if police officials called out bad apples and neighborhood residents pointed fingers at trouble-makers.
A knee-jerk reaction is to jump immediately to defend an opinion, regardless of right or wrong. However, such reactions don’t bring positive change, and at this moment in our history, it’s time for society to change.