You’re in a major metropolitan area somewhere inside the United States of America.
You happen to be walking down the street at just the right time, to see a law officer “apprehending a perpetrator.”
It’s obvious the person taking the other into custody, is under exceptionally good control of the person he’s managing; further, there are numerous other agents around the “nabber,” making it highly unlikely the person having been caught will get away, or cause issues of much of any kind.
Still, the officer seems to be acting extremely harshly where the person he’s just collared is concerned. Being a good citizen, you take out your cellular phone and begin recording the interaction. You make it plain to the arresting individual you’re doing this.
He continues to act as though you aren’t even there. You know better than to try to get between the lawman and his work, so you stay away, but continue to “film.”
The officer is using a choke-hold on the person he’s captured, and it looks painful at best, and dangerous at worst. You ask the choker to “ease up on” the person he’s throttling and again, he seems to ignore you.
The person being held seems to lose consciousness. It looks like he may no longer be breathing. He begged the person with the choke hold on him to stop, saying he was unable to breath.
Now from my perspective, it makes zero difference the “race” of either the policeman or the person he’s dealing with (likewise for sex, but that’s another story). That being said, the officer happens to have been a person of African heritage, and the other—the “perpetrator”—a person of European descent.
At no point of which you’re aware was any language used that indicated the law enforcer had anything “racial” against the person with whom he was dealing. Further, though the officer’s actions appeared to be seriously egregious, it didn’t appear they were in any way motivated by the “citizen” being “white.”
Your video (or someone else’s) “goes viral.” There is protesting in the streets based on this “police action.” It soon turns to rioting and looting. Regardless that most have been peaceful, some folks just had to get rowdy and act in wrongheaded ways.
Even among the protesters though (those who have not acted improperly) are signs indicating the actions that occurred were “racially motivated.”
You saw the whole event transpire. It was ugly, it was (based on everything you saw) entirely unjustifiable.
In your mind, the officer should lose his job, be disciplined, and probably be charged for some crime or crimes (up to and perhaps including murder). Maybe the other law enforcement personnel that were on the scene should have at least some of these things happen to them as well (perhaps all of them?).
Your problem? As far as you’re able to see, there’s not a single sign that what happened was a matter of “race.” And you should have some idea, after all, you’re “white.”
You attempt (pretty much entirely in vain), to get people to understand that there appeared to be no “racial motivation” in what occurred. As stated, you seem to almost entirely fail.
There’s another thing that’s eating at you. You’ve been in the city in question numerous times, and you have never seen an enforcement officer misbehave. In fact, they have been kind, courteous and polite—downright friendly. Yet those you see demonstrating are acting like this sort of thing goes on all the time—almost as though it’s more common than not.
You decide to do some research for yourself. In the process you determine a couple of things.
Firstly, you find out that the officer in question has pretty much never shown the least interest in the “race” of those with which he was tasked to deal. He has been reprimanded multiple times for acting inappropriately when interacting with folks with whom he had reason to work. In fact, he has far too many instances where this was the case for your liking. But he was an “equal opportunity idiot” in those situations, no pattern of racial abuse “sticks out” on looking them over.
The second thing you discover? Not only in that metro area, but in the United States as a whole, the number of incidences of bad behavior by law enforcement appears to be exceptionally low. This is consistent with what you’ve seen, and with what your discussions with others have led you to expect.
On looking a little deeper, you come to the position that the numbers may be lower than they should be, since some officers’ records may have been essentially “expunged by requirement.” Even so, the numbers as they appear are quite low.
The protesting (and the rioting and the looting, and the other personal harm) continue to occur. In the meantime, things happen where—though folks have been extremely injudicious in their actions—fuel is added to the fire (whether it “fits the narrative” or not is another matter). The result is a protracted set of protests, riots, lootings and personal harm.
The more you consider things, the less you think the folks acting as they are, are being reasonable (where this is particularly true for the rioters, looters, and persons doing harm, you come to realize that it’s also true for the peaceful protesters).
“It’s perfectly reasonable for people to protest against things that are obviously problematic, most particularly if they’re common,” you reason, “but doing so when they’re not problematic, and when the actually problematic events are very rare, is not at all reasonable.”
The issue is that you are in the definite minority. Most folks are willing to be incensed on the behalf of the person who was killed (which is what happened to the “criminal” in the earlier story), by the officer.
Was the officer (likely horribly) wrong in his actions? Certainly! Should he (and again, possibly others) “pay for” what he (and they) did? If a jury of his (or their) peers decides so, absolutely!
Should this result in widespread protesting (and potentially rioting, looting and otherwise harming others who were totally uninvolved), probably not.
Keep in mind that I have intentionally “turned this around” in order to get people to think what they’re supporting.
Final thought? Protesting is literally Constitutionally guaranteed. That doesn’t mean every instance of it is anywhere near reasonable. In the instance this was “modeled after,” I submit it was not.
May your time be good, and as usual, thanks for reading.