Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Time for Hope

 The verdict is in; the jury has spoken: Guilty on all counts.

George Floyd and Derek Chauvin
I have a complex and possibly surprising reaction which may be unpopular with some.

I believe that the verdict is, at the same time, just and sad. 

The verdict cannot resurrect George Floyd and allow him to continue his life and it will not replace him to his family and friends.

The verdict has destroyed the life of a police officer who, when he began that day, had no idea his response to that incident would become a catalyst for change in America.

The verdict is also commentary on the sad state of police training in the United States. We have seen evidence of this time after time in the news. I am sure that Derek Chauvin believes in his heart that he is a good police officer. And that, friends, is the problem. It highlights the ineffective training in many police departments. Police are servants of the people charged with enforcing the law. But, like all public servants, including the military and civilian employees of federal, state, and local governments; they are and must be held to a higher standard. 

So for the complex part of my thought--the defense, in my opinion, tried to equate Derek Chauvin to how a normal human adult would respond in a particular situation with the training that he had at there time. 

But Derek Chauvin was not a normal rational adult, he was a police officer. The standard of conduct to which he is held is higher than that of a normal, rational adult. 

I have been held to a similar higher standard all of my adult life as both a military officer and now a federal civilian. I understand the burden, but it has become part of my life and self.

Derek Chauvin had a responsibility to separate emotion, frustration, and anger from his professional actions. It is hard! But because he was a police officer and not a just a normal American adult, he was necessarily held to a higher standard. 

Is Derek Chauvin a bad man or a bad police officer? I believe NOT. I believe the system failed him. The system failed George Floyd, and the system also failed America. 

Now is NOT the time to defund the police, but rather to closely examine their budgets and ensure that the officers we rely upon for protection and law enforcement get funding for the training they need to protect both themselves and the public. 

Now is also NOT the time to celebrate the conviction of a man, but rather to grieve the death of another man that brought us to this place. Thomas Jefferson wrote, The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Sadly, perhaps this is one of those times. Heroes come from unlikely places. We must move forward with the memory of this day fresh in our minds and dedicate ourselves to correcting the racial inequities which exist across out country.

Now is the time to work for measurable change. The vision of a truly inclusive America, the bright city on the hill shining for the world, still exists and we must dedicate ourselves to making it a reality.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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