On May 25, white Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on the neck of an unarmed black man named George Floyd for almost nine minutes. Floyd, who repeatedly told officers he couldn’t breathe, was unresponsive for three of those minutes, according to a criminal complaint against Chauvin, and he would die in police custody.
I’m not mentioning this because I believe I’m filling you in on something. I have no doubt you’re well aware of how Floyd died and how his death set off an unprecedented wave of cultural upheaval, one that crested atop another unprecedented wave of cultural upheaval.
You’re doubtlessly familiar, too, with the multifarious ways people decided to express their outrage over Floyd’s death — or to piggyback upon it to advance causes related to Floyd’s death in the most tangential of ways.
No, I’m recapitulating these details for a different reason: to question what moral universe you would have to inhabit to think the best way to express your outrage would be to re-enact the manner of Floyd’s death, except using a crying toddler as a stand-in to kneel upon, and then posting a photo of that vile tableau to social media in support of Black Lives Matter.
I’m not quite sure either, but prosecutors say 20-year-old Isaiah Jackson is one of its inhabitants.
— The Washington Times (@WashTimes) July 23, 2020
Jackson has been booked into an Ohio jail on a probation violation after it’s alleged he was the man in a photo putting his knee on the neck of a white toddler, in tears, with the caption “Blm now mf.”
Another individual, not identified by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, was seen in the photo holding the child’s hands behind his back.
WARNING: The following tweet contains a graphic image that some viewers will find disturbing.
Life in prison would be far too lenient here pic.twitter.com/wRz0eAhChC
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) July 22, 2020
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that it was made aware of the posting Tuesday and was able to determine where the photo had been taken.
In addition to Jackson, police were able to reach out to the mother and child featured in the photo.
“The child was taken to the local hospital for examination, where he was found to have no injuries related to the incident,” the sheriff’s office said.
“Subsequent interview with the mother revealed that she was unaware of the photo having been taken, or its contents, until she had been informed by other parties while the Sheriff’s Office was enroute to her home to begin the investigation into this incident,” the statement read.
“The Investigations Bureau of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office has prepared the case against the male subject shown in the photo, Isaiah Jackson, 20, and is awaiting the Office of the County Prosecutor to provide a determination on the scope and breadth of the felony charges that will be supported by that office for presentation in court.”
The statement also noted the office was continuing to investigate “several other persons who were directly involved” in the incident.
According to the sheriff’s office’s website, Jackson’s arrest history includes domestic violence, burglary and felonious assault.
Unhappily, this story doesn’t end there, because social media travesties fester locally and metastasize globally.
In this case, the malignancy has spread to DeKalb County, Georgia, where a special education teacher (!) is under scrutiny for offering his, um, erudite thoughts on the matter.
“Again! Your [sic] doing it wrong!” Cedar Grove High School teacher Brian Papin allegedly wrote, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “One knee on center of the back one on the neck and lean into to it until death! You saw the video! Get it right or stop f—ing around!”
The DeKalb school district said Papin is still employed, although his alleged remarks are under investigation.
“Administrators were made aware of the disturbing social media posts,” a district spokeswoman said Wednesday. “The district is currently investigating the allegation.”
These are outliers, but they’re also indicative of how inchoate outrage works.
To whoever was in this photograph — Isaiah Jackson or not — making a political point about the death of George Floyd was worth risking the life of a child. This isn’t even discussing the rebarbative possibility the toddler was chosen because of his race and the fact it portrayed a sick role reversal.
And then from the sidelines, we allegedly had a high school special needs teacher cheering the whole thing on.
If you believe a man has been killed unjustly, the best way to protest is to do it in a way that affirms human life. The individuals involved here have done nothing but debase it.
No, they didn’t kill a person. But they could have.
After all, Isaiah Jackson seems to have been following Derek Chauvin’s lead. Even if this didn’t lead to the same result, it fed into the same evil he was apparently trying to protest.
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