Former ESPN sportswriter Jason Whitlock argued Tuesday that recently released body cam footage from two officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd shows that the mainstream racial narrative surrounding Floyd’s death was a “race hoax” used to divide America.
“Leaked video exposes George Floyd’s death as tragedy and race hoax used to divide us,” reads the headline to Whitlock’s opinion piece published by Outkick on Tuesday.
The footage, released by the Daily Mail on Monday, was taken from the body cameras of Officers Thomas Lane, 37, and Alex Kueng, 26, after responding to a call that Floyd was allegedly using counterfeit money at Cup Foods. The footage shows Floyd acting in an erratic manner that prompts police to question if he is intoxicated and includes Floyd resisting attempts to get him in the back of the police car, citing his “claustrophobia,” “anxiety,” previously having “COVID,” and his difficulty breathing. Floyd eventually begins yelling that he “can’t breathe” and saying he’d prefer to be on the ground than in the car.
Whitlock argued that the footage suggests the officers involved were “appropriate and restrained given Floyd’s level of resistance and bizarre conduct,” adding that it also “reasonably explains how and why Floyd wound up on the ground with multiple officers restraining him.”
The sports journalist emphasized that the video “does not justify officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.” However, he argued, the video offers “context” for “why Chauvin would be reluctant to believe Floyd’s ‘I can’t breathe’ cries,” citing his repetition of false claims and “panicked, disoriented, desperate and totally non-compliant” behavior.
Whitlock then listed his “takeaways” from the offered footage, highlighting the media’s unjustified racial angle:
- Floyd’s behavior escalated a routine arrest into a possible abuse of force.
- The George Floyd case is not a race crime. No rational person can watch that footage and conclude the police were motivated by Floyd’s black race.
- It’s going to be virtually impossible to convict former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao of any crime.
- It will be equally difficult to convict Chauvin of murder.
Noting the professional athletes pouncing on the tragedy to smear police and play up a racial narrative that he argues does not exist, Whitlock asked when LeBron James, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, and Adam Silver will be asked “their thoughts on the leaked Floyd footage.”
“The NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball chose to drape themselves in Black Lives Matter symbols and view all negative encounters between black people and white people as examples of white supremacy,” Whitlock wrote, saying that life is “far more complicated” than its portrayed on social media.
“What happened to George Floyd is more complicated than the substance-less assertion that Derek Chauvin acted out of racial animus,” he writes. “Chauvin abused his power. His defense lawyers will argue he was baited into abusing his power by Floyd.”
Heads of professional sports organizations have used “fear-driven leadership” and “turned America’s great unifier — sports — into a racial divider,” Whitlock asserted. (Read Whitlock’s full opinion piece here.)
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