Riots and looting stretched into the third day in Minneapolis as Black Lives Matter protests and other demonstrations popped up in other parts of the nation. Surging violence in Minnesota comes in response to the death of George Floyd, 46, who was suffocated to death by the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday amid pleas for oxygen and a warning that “I can’t breathe!”
Chauvin and the other officers involved were fired shortly after chilling video of Floyd’s death reached the internet but calls for prosecution of Chauvin soon followed. The officers on the scene that day initially claimed that Floyd resisted arrest, but security footage of the incident indicated otherwise.
Even amid pandemic lockdowns and a rapidly approaching presidential election, the violent and senseless killing of George Floyd, a man arrested for a petty crime, is the primary focus of the nation. And it should be. Every American should be outraged by the death of a person who dies at the hands of those sworn to "protect and serve" while begging for their life.
But the destruction of property and violence that have followed the death of Floyd have only further driven a wedge between law enforcement and those outraged by a shocking death. A demand for justice for Floyd should unify the nation, not divide it so deeply that it may never be fixed. Widespread distrust of police and gaping fractures between American communities are only solidified by scenes of gutted department stores and burning police stations.
There is nothing peaceful about arson and looting. Riots are doing nothing to perpetuate any type of conversation about what can be done to avoid future tragedies. There is no room for discourse when a city is reduced to ash and crime takes hold of the streets. There is no freedom on any street in America when families must barricade their doors and pray they aren't invaded by raging criminals leaning on a tragic death as an excuse to lay waste to an entire city.
Riots and looting are violence and crime. In order to prevent further tragedy, law enforcement must keep the peace or anarchy will take hold. The president of the United States agrees with this and offered the support of the National Guard, saying the violent epidemic in Minneapolis was being committed not by peaceful protesters, but by thugs. Indeed, it is thugs who belittle the sorrow of a nation and cries for justice by committing felonies and putting more lives at risk. Only thugs would break the windows of a Target and steal with abandon just because they could. It is thugs who burn small businesses to the ground and do all of it in the name of "protest."
Through the carnage, however, it was Trump's use of that word, "thugs," that drove the story this morning thanks to Twitter's choice to place a content warning on his post. Though the president's message to America was a vow to help the ailing city, it was his use of the phrase, "when the shooting starts, the looting starts," that caused Twitter to say the president was glorifying violence.
In reality, President Obama freely used the word "thugs" just five years ago during the Baltimore riots. Obama was very concerned about increasing violence in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody and condemned "criminals and thugs who tore up the place," just as Trump has done. And looting most certainly begets more violence, as Trump pointed out. The unrest in Minneapolis and other cities has caused several troubling incidents of gun violence by civilians.
Justice must be served, but violence, blame shifting, and political posturing are not the answer. This strife will only pour iron into a deep national fracture and prevent it from ever healing. The standoff between Americans, the police, and each other must come to an end as we strive for health, prosperity, equality, and justice for George Floyd.
Follow Townhall's Julio Rosas who is on the ground in Minneapolis covering the riots.