Last week the jury returned guilty verdicts in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers — the officers other than Derek Chauvin, who pleaded guilty — charged with violating the civil rights of George Floyd in the arrest that resulted in his death. The jury found Tou Thao and Alexander Kueng guilty on each of the two counts against them and found Thomas Lane guilty on the one count against him. The jury also found that the violations contributed to Floyd’s death, which will aggravate the sentences.
I commented on the closing arguments here, but it is Andrew McCarthy’s NRO column quoted in the update that applies to the case at this point. His column raises the question of the legal sufficiency of the charges.
By contrast, the prosecutors promptly issued a statement celebrating the convictions. The Department of Justice has posted it here.
My first thought upon learning of the verdicts was that it was a dark day for Minneapolis. Good luck signing up new police officers to perform the protective work that is necessary to maintain Minneapolis as a civilized city, or restore it to that status. The obvious question is who in his right mind would do it for the city. You have got to be kidding me.
This is not exactly the train of thought pursued by the Star Tribune. In “A clear duty to intervene,” the Star Tribune’s editors raised no issue with the federal convictions. The editors contemplate the consequences and blow them off: “Concerns that the verdicts will have a chilling effect on police retention and recruitment are less important than the clear message sent by the jury: If an officer is engaged in excessive force, the law compels others on the scene to intervene.” In their conclusion the editors cite the Rev. Al Sharpton in support of their opinion. This is not intended as satire.
Most recently, the Star Tribune’s editors put their heads together to concoct this modest proposal: “Reform policing through better standards.” Subhead: “Tough times require even higher standards in a now-beleagured profession.” This is not intended as satire.
Alpha News now reports “Minneapolis patrol officers down by more than half.” Subhead: “The Minneapolis Police Department only has 268 patrol officers, spread across five precincts and three shifts.”
It seems to me that the Star Tribune illustrates how a dominant daily newspaper can hasten the decline of its hometown. It is a terrible thing to say, but we would be better off without it.