Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd on a Monday evening. He was not arrested until that Friday. Everybody saw the murder, and everybody knew that he did it. Why wasn’t he arrested the next day? Or the day after that? Or the day after that?
Instead of arresting someone who everybody knew to be a murderer, the police stood guard in front of his house. That’s not to say that no arrests were made. Instead of Derek Chauvin getting arrested, protests got arrested.
It was obvious to everyone that the murder was a heinous injustice, and it was obvious to everyone that Chauvin should have been arrested. It was not an issue over which reasonable people could disagree. The just thing to do would have been to arrest Chauvin, but the police didn’t do it. They failed to deliver justice, and people got angry.
As long as Chauvin remained free, the anger grew. It grew and grew, for more than three days. By the time the police did the obviously just thing and arrested him, it was too late. The anger boiled over, and protests gave way to riots.
There didn’t have to be riots, there didn’t have to be looting, there didn’t have to be fires. The police could have prevented all of that by arresting Chauvin in a timely manner. The people wanted justice, but the police wanted to protect one of their own.
The police knew that their failure to deliver justice would incite anger. Their solidarity with a well-known murderer provoked riots. Everyone was exposed to danger, and the police chose for things to be that way.
The Derek Chauvin murder trial is underway as I write this. Everybody knows it was murder. Everybody saw it. There is no room for disagreement on this. If the “justice system” fails to deliver the just outcome here, it cannot be trusted to deliver just outcomes at all.
If they let Chauvin walk, there will be riots. This is obvious to everyone, including the police. We will all face danger and instability. The protesters have been chanting “no justice, no peace” over and over. Justice and peace go hand-in-hand.
The best time to stop a riot is before it happens.