The Conway Police Department, along with other agencies across Faulkner County, has implemented “community policing” and worked to build strong relationships with residents for years. This has made all the difference in the peaceful protests seen in Conway versus the violent outbreaks captured in other parts of the state and across the nation.
The witness videos taken of George Floyd’s final moments on May 25 are absolutely disturbing. Nothing about his arrest was properly handled, which is perfectly clear from video footage taken by bystanders that is now circulating the web.
We should all be outraged about what happened.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter days after Floyd was killed, is now charged with second-degree murder for keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Video footage shows he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly three minutes after Floyd went unconscious. The other officers – Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao – who surrounded Floyd and Chauvin on May 25 were rightfully charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
The outrage that ultimately fueled protests in Minneapolis and across the nation follow not only Floyd’s wrongful death, but the unnecessary actions toward the black community that have continued for countless years.
As one African American man described to me Sunday night at the protest at the intersection of Oak and Harkrider streets, this push back against law enforcement is due to rising number of black people who were wrongfully killed at the hands of a police officer. This kind, young man told me he feels daily like he has a target on his back.
Racism isn’t dead. But, it should be.
No human should feel like they have a target on their back while grocery shopping, stopping to get gas or for any reason at all.
While I fully agree there are bad apples mixed with our honorable law enforcement officers, I do not believe all police should be judged by the actions of a corrupt officer.
As I’ve heard several say: “No one hates bad cops more than good cops.”
I can only imagine how our law enforcement officers across the nation feel as they wake up each day knowing full well the community is primarily against them right now. For a job that already requires you to wear a bullet-resistant vest each day, this is unsettling. During the Sunday night protest in Conway, I saw several protestors screaming hateful comments while standing about 1 foot from the officers’ faces.
While I understand that tensions against police officers are high right now, we should not treat every officer negatively against actions they also disapprove of.
Though I witnessed a chaotic scene Sunday night, I am glad to hear protests have not continued against Conway and other Faulkner County police departments. Instead of photos of protestors rioting and looting and/or acting violent flooding our local social media streams, I am extremely grateful to instead see images of law enforcement officers hugging, fist-bumping, kneeling for and marching alongside protestors.
Even with a 10 p.m. curfew issued by city of Conway officials, local protestors have remained civil. It’s clear they want to send a message of hope and peace.
One of the Tuesday night protestors’ signs read: “Stand with us! Not on us!” And the Conway Police Department did just that.
CPD Maj. Chris Harris led as the commander for law enforcement during Tuesday’s protest. As the protestors packed up for the night once curfew hit, the officer said the night’s demonstration was encouraging. He’s right. It was just that – uplifting and purposeful.
“The transformation with the relationships between law enforcement and people in the community has been nothing short of amazing,” he said following the night’s protests. “What started out as a tumultuous event on Sunday night, turned into a peaceful, compassionate and respectful event for all parties on Tuesday night.”
I support the blue line, and I support the black community. However, all lives can’t matter until all black lives matter.