A knee on the neck = A licence to kill
Published : Wednesday, 3 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 640
Barely a week into the George Floyd killing and protests surrounding his grisly death continues to spread like wildfire. First it was restricted within a few American cities and now the rage has triggered a global outcry. Ripple effects of the shocking occurrence can now be heard on the streets of Vancouver to Berlin to even Beijing.
However, the more I keep playing and replaying the 8 minute plus video recording that has gone viral since the first day, I fail to spot the moral legitimacy placed behind such cruel and inhuman arrest technique. Applying pressure with your knee to someone's neck is dangerous enough to choke someone to death in a few minutes.
The question here was such cruel technique needed at the time and especially when the suspected criminal was unarmed?
The person applying knee pressure on the neck never knows for how long his victim can live without breathing, be it Floyd or someone else. Prior to venture on such beastly act, it requires meticulous and in-depth study on human respiratory organ. Executing it without the knowledge is equivalent to a licence to kill.
Being a bouncer himself, Floyd was surely a big built and a fit individual, otherwise a normal person less than his size and fitness would have succumbed to death, probably in less than three minutes. It is for the American police administration to rethink and redesign its perilous and life threatening arrest techniques. Perhaps officer Chauvin was not all too concerned about the consequences of kneeling on the victim's neck, but it is common sense for any police officer to anticipate the horrible aftermath.
As the video kept playing with the victim crying for breathing, the face of an unsympathetic Chauvin appeared another shock. It wasn't only police violence but it was also a visible instance of extreme racial prejudice.
In the United States of America, when the police arrest someone, they take away that person's fundamental right to freedom but not the right to live. Consequently, there are several procedures the police is instructed to follow before they can make a legal arrest so that the offenders' human rights remain protected. Many states and police departments add 'extra procedures'. Sometimes, they're designed to protect police officers' physical safety and sometimes they're meant to help the officer document the arrest. Moreover, some of these procedures are intended to help the officer avoid making a legal mistake which could ruin the prosecution's case.
It is not comprehensible to this writer, on what ground was it deemed necessary to press hard a suspect's neck on the ground resulting in his death. And since police arrest procedures differ from state to state in the US, so now the ball is in the court of Minneapolis police authorities to explain and justify the knee applying technique on the neck.
Police aren't allowed to use excessive force or treat an arrestee nastily and this right is protected by the U.S. Constitution. With Floyd's murder one more thing has become clear as daylight that a fraction of US police officers have little respect for the constitution.
But what I followed in the video clip is far beyond cruelty. First it was cold blooded public torture followed by an unexpected murder. Second, there was obviously a strong racial hatred mixed with a sense of reprisal that was visible in Chauvin's gestures and postures. And third, the ruthless arrest technique that I have branded as an unofficial 'licence to kill'.
What I found particularly mysterious about Derek Chauvin is that Chauvin's work history at the Minneapolis Police Department included more than 15 conduct complaints over his 19 years with the department. Another media report suggested that almost all the 'complaints were closed without discipline' and police internal affairs records suggests the 'allegations weren't sustained' and the nature of the complaints was never made public.
In the light of these new revelations, now we come across a notorious US police officer who also enjoyed impunity in the police department coupled with a licence to kill.
To finish with, the spy thriller hero James bond must be feeling unsecured and ashamed by now for his honorific "Licence to Kill" - for it has been clumsily abused by an incompetent US police officer. Why not search for a new honorific - Licence to think before killing.
The writer is Assistant Editor, News & Editorial, The Daily Observer