Broadcaster, journalist, writer, and television personality Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan has blasted the celebrities who are fuelling the anti-racism consternation in the United States and demanding, among other things, defunding of the American police. Acknowledging that “in the past two weeks, we’ve seen the very worst of police work in America, and some of the very best” and that “the worst manifested itself in horrendous graphic detail with the slow, contemptuous murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin in 8 minutes and 46 seconds of horrific brutality”, the journalist wrote, “But in its aftermath, there have been numerous other appalling incidents across America, captured on camera phones for the whole outraged world to see.”
Published in Daily Mail, the article enlists a spate of what comes across as cases of police excesses. Morgan recalls, “In Buffalo, a 75-year-old man, Martin Gugino, was roughly shoved to the ground by two officers in riot gear and then left bleeding and unconscious on the ground. In Salt Lake City, another elderly man with a walking stick was knocked over by the police as they cleared protestors away. In Indianapolis, officers were seen beating and firing pepper spray rounds at a black woman. In Austin, a 20-year-old university student reportedly suffered brain damage and a fractured skull after police shot him with beanbag rounds. In Philadelphia, another student was beaten on the head by one officer and had his face kneed to the ground by another. In New York, two NYPD SUVs mowed down protestors standing behind a barricade, knocking many of them to the ground. In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed, police and National Guard soldiers were seen marching through a neighbourhood shooting paint canisters at people standing on their front porch.”
The journalist reports instances “dreadful treatment” by police, where the cops fired at “reporters and TV crews covering the protests” with rubber bullets. He claims the police ‘attack’ has left one photo-journalist partially blind after she was hit in the eye. Morgan says, “So, police brutality is very real, and not just confined to black people.”
However, the problem is with what the protesters are demanding, according to Morgan who mentions the defunding issue here. While “there’s no doubt that black people in America suffer from it far more than white people”, he says, naming Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile and Rodney King — all African-Americans — the journalist finds a big problem with “Campaigners, led by organisers of the Black Lives Matter and Movement 4 Black Lives groups” claiming that “the only solution is to now scrap” the police system and “reallocate the billions spent annually on it to community public services prioritising mental health, education, housing, employment.”
Naming “left-wing Democrat politicians” like Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Ilhan Omar, and celebrities like Lizzo, John Legend, Common, Jane Fonda and Natalie Portman, the columnist quotes an Instagram post of the last actress named and fellow actresses Ellen Pompeo who endorsed the post that asks for defunding of the police — only to vehemently challenge their notion. “I’m afraid my gut had a rather different reaction when” he read Portman’s clarion call for defunding the police, Morgan writes.
Branding the breast-beating exercise as “celebrity virtue-signalling at its most laughably hypocritical”, Morgan points out that “all these stars live in secure protected homes. Most of them employ expensive bodyguards or even full security details. It’s very easy for them to sit safely in their mansions and tell those who can’t afford such luxuries that they’ll be just fine without the police around.”
Saying that they wouldn’t, the scribe says while he shares the “disgust at what happened to George Floyd”, with the situation demanding “real action… not just yet more predictable exclamations of temporary horror,” Morgan also thinks the police must be dramatically, institutionally reformed, echoing a sentiment Sirf News columnist Prof Ramesh Rao had voiced already.
Then Morgan makes the statement, “But getting rid of the police altogether is frankly a batsh*t crazy idea.” He is alarmed at the fact that this is exactly what the Minneapolis city council is now planning to do.
While Republicans obviously and Democrats surprisingly — the opposition has resolved to reform the police otherwise when it comes to power — have ruled out defunding the police, Morgan is amazed that the majority in the council, which cannot be vetoed, declared that they planned to “dismantle” the police department and build a new system of community-focused public safety.
What’s funny, they admit the council does not have any idea how this defunding would actually work. “We recognize that we don’t have all the answers about what a police-free future looks like, but our community does,” the council members said at a community meeting, adding “We’re committed to engaging with every willing community member in the City of Minneapolis over the next year to identify what safety looks like for you.”
Morgan quips, “Power to the people then,” and adds that the idea of defunding the police is “complete madness”.