The Nonviolence Standard and its Largest Perpetrator

Recently, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was brutally killed in Minneapolis by a white police officer. Video of the incident makes me sick to my stomach. Following the murder of Floyd, there have been protests across the nation— some violent and some non-violent. We must recognize that Floyd’s killing is not an isolated incident but rather a consequence of a monopoly on the legal use of force that has gained power over the decades. I attempt to make my case with nuance and with respect for all those who have been victimized by the state (just about everyone but many worse than others). My goal is to provide a well researched and well thought out perspective that I do not pretend to be the only correct perspective but at least an important one.

Moral truths are immutable, and no-one is immune from them— particularly the principle of non-aggression, which can be summarized ‘violence is not justifiable except as a last resort to protect life, liberty, and property against an aggressor.’ Violent protests and looting by this principle are clearly wrong. However, that shouldn’t distract us from the clearest issue and the largest perpetrator of violence— the state.

In the United States, there are many unjustifiable violations of liberty by the state, which I have spoken of extensively. The State violates human rights both at home and abroad. Does it protect human rights? Yes, it does that— but far too often, it violates them. Here are some examples:

In 2002, U.S. citizen Kemal Darwish was killed in a drone strike in Yemen.

In 2011, 16-year-old boy Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, a U.S. citizen, was one of six people shred to pieces by a U.S. drone strike well sitting in a restaurant in Yemen.

The U.S. justice department announced that four citizens were killed in drone strikes between 2009 and 2013.

26-year-old Breonna Taylor was asleep in bed with her boyfriend when three officers wearing plainclothes burst in serving a no-knock search warrant. Believing that they were intruders, the armed Mr. Walker shot at the officers. The officers returned fire, and at least eight bullets hit Miss Taylor who was not involved in any illegal activities and had no criminal record. 

According to Professor Kraska from Eastern Kentucky University, the use of no-knock warrants hit 60,000 a year in 2010 up from 1,000 a year in the early 1980s. Prof. Kraska has found 330 examples of botched raids from no-knock warrants in the last 15 years. A New York Times investigation found 81 civilian deaths and 13 police deaths resulting from no-knock raids between 2010 and 2016.

The examples demonstrated here represent unjustifiable violence both at home and abroad. There are many solutions.

The clearest two answers to these specific instances are to stop drone strikes on civilian targets and to stop performing no-knock raids. More broad solutions that I have written about before are to end the war on drugs and the war on terror. Non-violent crime statutes increase the amount of interaction between law enforcement and civilians and thus increase the potential for violence.

One solution to police violence introduced by Libertarian congressman Justin Amash is the ending qualified immunity act. This is a sensible reform that would hold law enforcement more accountable.

“As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Congress allowed individuals to sue state and local officials, including police officers, who violate their rights. Starting in 1967, the Supreme Court began gutting that law by inventing the doctrine of qualified immunity,” Amash tweeted, “Under qualified immunity, police are immune from liability unless the person whose rights they violated can show that there is a previous case in the same jurisdiction, involving the exact same facts, in which a court deemed the actions to be a constitutional violation.”

Due to a lack of competition, the state doesn’t often pay for its bad actions like a private company would. Law enforcement must be held to the same standards as everyone else. Bad actors within the state such as George Floyd’s murderer and those complicit should be prosecuted as such, and those who allow or further human rights violations should be removed from office.

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