Following the controversial death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, protests have engulfed the US. Black Lives Matter movements all over the country have called for an end to systematic, racist police brutality against black people. Some police departments and republican lawmakers have met the outcry with resistance.
However, some police have sided with the protesters, at least to some degree. Case in point: Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo has gone on record calling Floyd’s death “murder”. According to Arradondo, Chauvin “knew what he was doing” when he pinned Floyd for nearly ten minutes.
In a statement late Tuesday, the police chief noted that Chauvin knew what he was doing. “Mr. George Floyd’s tragic death was not due to a lack of training — the training was there. Chauvin knew what he was doing,” he said. They “knew what was happening” and didn’t prevent it.
“This was murder — it wasn’t a lack of training,” Arradondo stated. According to the police chief, both Chauvin and Tou Thao, another officer police arrested for his involvement in the case, had trained for this exact scenario. The two had received training on how to prevent asphyxiation from positions like the chokehold Chauvin used.
Arradondo’s statements came after the police department’s training came under question. Due to a 2013 settlement, Minneapolis police are all required to undergo positional asphyxiation training. The police chief confirmed that all officers understand this. He stated they “explicitly require moving an arrestee from a prone position to a recovery position when the maximal restraint technique is used and require continuous monitoring of an arrestee’s condition.”
Black Lives Matter protests across the US have called for the court system to hold the officers accountable. Chauvin and the other three officers present at the scene are all facing serious criminal charges. Moreover, protesters have called for justice in numerous cases of police overuse of force, especially in cases involving black victims.
However, many protests go beyond simply calling for individual “bad apples” to receive punishment. There are growing calls for police forces to lose funding in favor of community-driven solutions to crime. This “defund the police” movement calls on funds to go to community programs.
The movement’s opponents deride the idea as being an invitation to lawlessness and anarchy. Proponents, however, argue that such “law and order” rhetoric comes from a place of fear and a lack of imagination.