Minneapolis: Use of Force Against Blacks 7 Times Higher Than That for Whites
Floyd was being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store when one of the arresting police officers, Derek Chauvin, applied a controversial body pin by placing his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd’s air passage was constricted from the technique, and Floyd died as a result. Chauvin was fired and charged with second-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder. Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip Stinson said, “In my experience, applying pressure to somebody’s neck in that fashion is always understood to be the application of deadly force.”
Stinson was also concerned that the three other police officers surrounding Chauvin did not attempt to intervene even though they knew they were being filmed, indicating that they had no problem with the excessive use of force. “Whatever the officer was doing was condoned by his colleagues,” said Stinson. “They didn’t seem surprised by it at all. It was business as usual.”
Dave Bickling, former member of the civilian police review authority for Minneapolis and now a board member for the Communities United Against Police Brutality, said the neck restraint used was not one approved under city policy because it applied pressure on the front of the neck.
Many police departments have banned the use of all forms of neck restraints because of the risks they pose. This incident, Bickling said, was indicative of the racism that has been apparent in Minneapolis’ police department. “This has been years in the making,” he stated. “George Floyd was just the spark.”
Since 2012, there have been over 2,600 citizen complaints filed against Minneapolis police. A study released in 2015 by the U.S. Department of Justice showed that 3.5% of Minneapolis’ 86,000 Blacks said they were subjected to the use of force during their most recent contact with the police. Only 1.4% of Whites made similar claims. Documented uses of force show a total of 58% of such instances were used against Blacks, which translates to Blacks being seven times more likely to experience use of force by police than Whites.
Bickling stated that the city routinely failed to hold police accountable for excessive force actions.
Chauvin had already been the recipient of 17 civil complaints prior to the Floyd incident. “If discipline had been constant and appropriate, Derek Chauvin would have either been a much better officer, or would have been off the force,” he said. “If discipline had been done the way it should be done, there is virtually no chance George Floyd would be dead now.”