Batten Down The Hatches

I get to say that as an old sailor. As an old guy who has lived long enough to see stupid almost hit its zenith, I am saying it today in regard to the trial in Minneapolis. It’s about to hit the fan.

If you’re sporting a bumper sticker that identifies you as a charter member of Antifa or BLM, or you feel deep in your heart that roving bands of white cops are executing black toddlers for fun, you aren’t going to like this blog today. But if you’re doing the above, and have any gateway in your head that allows in discussion for evaluation, take a few minutes to read along: you might come out the other side better adjusted to reality.

The two most prominent deaths at the hands of police in Minnesota over the last year were both tragic for the families. But both made me think of the response I would anticipate if I died in a drunken car crash. Now, this is not me anymore, but once-upon-a-time, I drove intoxicated more than a little. Not since the early 80s have I done so, but let’s travel back to that time. 

If I smashed my car into a bridge abutment after a chase by a police officer, would you have blamed the cop? He didn’t mean for me to die, but if he hadn’t tried to stop me after seeing me weave all over the road, it probably wouldn’t have happened that evening. 

My actions, much like those of the two in question above, and the associated life-style choices, led to the interaction with the police. Once you open that Pandora-styled box by using drugs, passing counterfeit bills, drunk driving, or abusing your dog, you have now invited the police into your life. It’s all against the law, and you have two options: you can engage an armed officer in battle and take your chances (including their making mistakes that take your life) or you can submit peacefully and deal with it in court. 

There are no other options. It really is that simple. Because the minute you flip open the box, anything can happen – and it probably will.

It wouldn’t have helped me, or changed a thing, if my family and friends had all protested my death while drunk driving: I would have still caused my own death by being drunk behind the wheel. There would have been no murals, no monuments, no “Joe’s Law” passed that made police let drunk drivers continue onward and end the pursuit the instant I tried to flee. Nope. Just a box in the ground in a cemetery somewhere in Dakota County.

Making martyrs of people who die in resisting the police is wrong. I’m talking about the ones who keep shouting, claiming they can’t breathe when they can (there’s a long history to this particular camera grabber), and struggling against being cuffed. Making martyrs of people who do everything right and die at the hands of the police is a good idea. That’s because they did their part and something failed along the way. Now, there will be the occasional heart attack or stroke that happens due to the increase in stress, and that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the person who was physically targeted and abused by the officers.

That’s rare. Really rare. I work with cops in my retirement job in a position where they’re pretty open. I know a lot of cops who are my friends. If you don’t think that I’m on the inside for the good stories, you’re wrong. Good stories, if you have a dark mind, include the bad things that happen on the street, or in the jail. 

It is my experience that there are almost no cops out there who are targeting any kind of minority based on their race or bedpartners. There are very few cops who enjoy hurting others. There are a very small number of cops who are stupid and shouldn’t be doing the job.

In other words, I’m wagering that 95% plus of all cops are doing their level best in a tough job. The other 5% are more likely lazy or indifferent versus malicious. 

But there are a few bad cops out there. Nobody is denying it. And that’s why we have trials. Like the one about to conclude this week.

Mind you, I think that Derek Chauvin is more guilty of bad optics than anything else. He followed protocol, he didn’t asphyxiate Floyd by placing his knee on his neck for 9 minutes – it looked like it from one camera angle, but wasn’t the case.  George Floyd was dying of a drug overdose when this all started and that was a contributing factor in his death. The stress of the incident may have been the key that kicked his heart into the next life, but that’s for the jury to decide. The evidence presented by both sides is contradictory. 

There were multiple charges placed that Chauvin is on trial for in this case. The fact is that he was over charged to placate the public. The elements of the crime were not present to convict on at least two of the charges. It’s not my opinion alone, Alan Dershowitz opined in a similar fashion recently. When you charge someone with murder for backing over a guy in the supermarket parking lot and crushing him, you will lose the case. Why?  Because not seeing them in the side mirror does not show mens rea – criminal intent. You might be negligent for not checking the other mirrors, or even reckless, but you weren’t intending to murder them. They walked behind a moving vehicle and got crushed. They bear some of the blame for taking the risk of scooting behind the car. But the driver did not commit murder. 

Thus, when the charges were brought to trial, the fuse was lit for the next wave of rioting. Because unless the jury is completely terrified by the influence of people like Maxine Waters, they can’t rationally convict on the higher charges. The evidence is not there beyond a reasonable doubt. (Nope, didn’t watch the whole thing. Yes, read several pieces by lawyers who did watch it every day. I’m going with those reliable sources.)

When the verdict comes back in, the riots, looting, arson, shootings, and general mayhem will commence short of a blizzard or torrential rains. I’m hoping God has that on His weather outlook for this week. If Chauvin is convicted, in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, there will be celebration riots (like when the Gophers won the hockey title a few years back and the morons trashed Dinkytown near the campus). If he’s found not guilty, there will be instant chaos on every level.

But even then, it’s not over, because there will be an appeal if he’s convicted on the charges. There are solid grounds for a mistrial given that the jury was not sequestered during the trial and there was so much going on in the community threatening violence. There will undoubtedly be civil suits. Or, worst of all, the Biden administration can rush in with some kind of civil rights case and arrest him as he leaves the courtroom. 

No matter what happens this week, it’s just the beginning of a long hot summer. And a summer filled with hate and recriminations. 

What can be done to prevent this?  Let’s all try to understand that not every death is a murder. That there are consequences to life style choices. And that sometimes bad things happen. 

It’s not all about race. Or gender. Or any of the other triggers people have for their outrage. Is it fun, easy to accept, positive, or sought? No. 

But that’s a part of adult life. You get up off the dime and try to make it better the next time. You look to see if training needs to improve. Is what we have here a detainable offense (not the cop’s choice in many cases)? What was the root cause of this incident? Why did things go the way they did, and to return to the top, can we train to avoid this?

Most of all, try to be decent to others. Don’t loot, don’t burn, don’t shoot up neighborhoods. Protest if you desire to voice your opinion, but don’t bring it to the court reporter’s house and trap them inside. Pick a public venue and protest. 

Be safe, my friends. Pray for the National Guard, police, fire, EMS people in that area this week. They are truly peacekeepers and they need your prayers and support to get us on our way to recovery.

Pray.

Joseph Courtemanche

About Joseph Courtemanche

I'm a conservative Christian author who's been happily married for over 30 years. I am a Veteran of the United States Navy, Naval Security Group. I speak a few languages, I have an absurd sense of humor and I'm proud to be an American.

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