minneapolis riots George floyd
© REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 28, 2020
As Minneapolis suffers its third day of massive looting, burning and rioting, a number of commentators believe the violent behavior on the streets serves as justice for the death of George Floyd. It does not.

In one swift moment, the main story in the United States is no longer the coronavirus, and certainly not social distancing, as Minnesota's largest city struggles to contain a wave of violence following the March 26 killing of George Floyd, 46, at the hands of police.

What needs to happen is that the four officers responsible for Floyd's death be punished to the fullest extent of the law. What mustn't be allowed to happen, however, is for the people of Minneapolis to be held hostage as their fair city is reduced to smoldering rubble before their eyes. Yet that is exactly what is happening. This is disgraceful behaviour, totally unacceptable. This isn't part of the protest, this is kids taking advantage of a bad situation to vandalise and potentially steal. I hope the faces in these videos are recognised, and those involved are arrested. Thugs.

In the name of some dubious justice, many of those out on the streets of Minneapolis and other US cities are not attempting to uphold the memory of a dead man, but rather to mindlessly destroy property, loot stores and smash into ATM machines. Far from being a meaningful demonstration against police brutality, these protesters have cast a pall over the memory of George Floyd with their own senseless brand of violence and opportunistic theft. Meanwhile, some members of the mainstream media seem too happy to provide an apology for the rampage.

MSNBC commentator, Joy Reid, for example, reminded her viewers that police officers did nothing last month when a group of "armed white men" entered the Michigan State House to protest against the Covid-19 lockdown. Yet when black people in Minneapolis protested against the death of an innocent man, Reid argued, the police responded with tear gas and "full force."

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo seconded the mainstream motion, saying, "When it's white people with guns and they're out and they're angry and they're faced with cops... everyone is civil."

What Reid and Cuomo conspicuously failed to mention, however, is that the armed protesters who descended upon Lansing did not destroy property, loot stores and trash the city's police department.

Some people may respond that the circumstances are not comparable since we are talking about the cold-blooded murder of yet another black man at the hands of a white police officer. In fact, one Minneapolis councilwoman implored her fellow lawmakers to declare racism a "public health issue." There is just one problem with such a sweeping generalization: it is not supported by an inconvenient thing known as fact.

Although there have been several recent incidences of white police officers being responsible for the death of unarmed black men, the last major study on the subject shows that black citizens are NOT more likely to be killed by white officers as opposed to non-white officers.

Moreover, although the media rarely acknowledges it, more white people in the United States are killed each year by the police as compared to their black counterparts. What this means is that claims of 'racism' should never be used - least of all by the media, which should know better - as an excuse for people to behave like barbarians every time such terrible tragedies occur. Looting is not protesting. Burning down local homes and businesses is not protesting. How sad that the memory of #GeorgeFloyd has been lost in all of this.

At this extremely volatile moment in America, when race relations are once again on the brink of exploding, the mainstream media should consider more thoughtfully the consequences of its own behavior and weigh each word more carefully. While nobody would argue that racism does not exist in the United States, and that there are some individuals - both black and white - who do not deserve to wear a police uniform, the consequences of overstating the problem of racism at such moments could destroy years of advances on the civil rights front, and possibly much, much more.
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. Follow him on Twitter: @Robert_Bridge