Drawing the Right Conclusions From George Floyd | Opinion

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has once again dragged America into the world of racial violence with the killing of unarmed citizen, George Floyd, on Memorial Day. As captured on video by nearby witnesses, the inexcusable altercation ended with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's throat for nearly nine minutes, ultimately causing his death.

Since the resulting chaos and destruction is a tragic, recurring American phenomenon, it is instructive to remember some of the most recent racially charged riots—namely, those in Ferguson, Missouri back in 2014 when unarmed Michael Brown was shot by a police officer after a reported convenience store robbery. I remember the rush to judgment by the usual suspects on both political sides. Celebrities like Lebron James were promoting and glorifying the "hands up, don't shoot" narrative (something later proven false), while conservative commentators largely defended the police officer, all before the country knew the facts.

What's perhaps most striking in these two scenarios that have resulted in such similar results is just how dissimilar they actually are.

The deaths of Michael Brown and George Floyd aren't even close. Don't bother picking up a copy of a police manual to study approved techniques for restraint, and don't bother waiting for another camera angle that shows something we haven't already seen. In fact, the death of George Floyd might be one of the most singularly clear-cut incidents of police brutality ever captured on camera, revealing absolutely zero cause for Chauvin to take such drastic action. In other words, this isn't Ferguson.

But that's not all it isn't.

It isn't a reason to set police stations on fire, vandalize private businesses, steal televisions and smartphones and terrorize police officers as far away as California. Rioting isn't protesting and thousands of wrongs do not make a right. This is true even if influential Americans like singer Cardi B and Representative Ilhan Omar go online and suggest the opposite.

This incident also isn't evidence of a systemic problem, no matter how passionately you tweet, post or argue the point. Repeatedly, we hear from social activists, politicians and irresponsible members of the media that there is a war being raged by police against people of color all across the country. The evidence for such a claim? There isn't any. Purveyors of racial tension simply cherry-pick high-profile incidents, like what happened in Minneapolis, to make assertions that are not supported by the facts.

Whether it is the research of Heather Mac Donald, who famously observed, "The Black Lives Matter narrative has been impervious to the truth," or the study done at Michigan State University using 2015 data, the evidence always points to the same conclusion: Police-caused deaths of unarmed citizens are statistically rare and correlate more to violent crime areas than they do to race. I know it's sacrilege in this moment of national crisis to suggest our police officers, by and large, exhibit incredible restraint in highly pressurized, difficult situations, but the facts don't change just because we've reached a cultural boiling point.

Turning a protest into a riot isn't virtuous.

When you use violence to protest a moral injustice, you lose your moral license. Breaking into a local business and stealing items from a shop owner in the name of "victim's rights" only creates more victims. I am on the side of the people in Minneapolis and elsewhere who think that our criminal law system needs to swiftly, but properly, deal with Officer Chauvin. I also think that the same system needs to track down, arrest and prosecute every single person who damages private property under the guise of "protest."

Protesters for George Floyd
Protesters for George Floyd Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The sad truth is that the unintended consequences of these riots will likely cost more minority lives. Activists will use this isolated incident as a means by which to drive the police out of the very neighborhoods most severely impacted by violent crime. In Chicago over Memorial Day weekend, the same Memorial Day where Mr. Floyd became the tragic victim of a homicide in a singular incident in Minneapolis, 49 people were shot with 10 fatalities. The vast majority of the casualties in the Chicago shootings were victims of a same-race crime in a low-income neighborhood. These neighborhoods are the exact places where increased police presence could save lives.

President Trump has drawn criticism from all the usual suspects for his strong statements condemning the leadership, or lack thereof, from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has exhibited perhaps the most pathetic response to a protest-turned-riot one could possibly imagine. As citizens were destroying parts of Minneapolis and even setting a police station on fire, what was the mayor's answer? He was passing out masks to the rioters and encouraging them to practice social distancing while looting!

The mayor is clearly afraid to act decisively with criminal rioters, for fear of provoking "racial sensitivities." My question for the mayor is this: If you allow minorities to be placed at physical risk for fear of being called a racist, isn't that actually itself racist?

Even the swift action to file criminal charges against Chauvin appears to be weak, or at least confusing. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder, but a perusal of the Minnesota criminal statutes would seem to indicate that charge is a suboptimal fit. Many legal analysts agree that second-degree murder seems a better fit. No doubt the weaker charge will help rationalize and legitimize further violence.

America is not a racist country. It is a country that is forced to deal with issues involving race. Responses that combine the worst elements of rhetoric over fact, emotion over reason and weakness over resolve only serve to increase division.

It is time for some to stand down and for some to step up before even more American cities are engulfed in flames.

Charlie Kirk is the author of The New York Times bestseller The MAGA Doctrine: The Only Ideas That Will Win the Future and host of The Charlie Kirk Show.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.