The killing of Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a gang of roided-up goons pretending to be police officers kicked off a worldwide storm of protests, outrage, anger, rioting, and earnest calls to re-imagine the function of police in western society.
And conspiracy theories. So many conspiracy theories. Theories about George Floyd (that he’s a crisis actor, that he’s still alive, that Obama knew he was going to be killed), about the protests (that they’re funded by Soros, that they’re an ANTIFA invasion), and about the cops who did it (they’re crisis actors, it’s all a big scam, it was a targeted hit.)
One particular list of “puzzling questions” was thrust into my Twitter mentions with a demand that I “debunk this:”
I get these demands all the time and ignore them, because long lists of “puzzling questions” are the stock in trade of conspiracy theorists, and most of them aren’t worth taking the time to look at. But other people told me they’d started seeing the same list going around Facebook, and I didn’t want it to go viral without pushing back at least a little.
As far as I can tell, the list originated on either a conspiracy theorist website, where it was “submitted” by another reader, or on a blog post on a right wing clogosphere site called “Bah Out News.” You know, “bah,” like sheep. The lists are a little different, with one called “LOTS of puzzling Questions about the George Floyd Incident,” and another version called “LOTS of puzzling Questions about the Floyd George Incident,” meaning the crack researchers digging up the truth about this man’s murder can’t get his name right. Nice.
The list on the Bah Out News website goes on for dozens and dozens of rhetorical questions about Floyd’s death, the protests, and on and on. That’s by design – it’s a Gish Gallop, the conspiracy theorist technique of asking endless pedantic questions in an effort to force the debunker to walk away and let the conspiracy theorist declare victory.
So I’m not going to answer them all. But I did want to at least take a look at the questions in the meme getting passed around Facebook. They’re bad faith questions, either easily answerable or not answerable at all. As such, they’re perfect for a list being passed around by conspiracy theorists.
Why does one photo from behind show the man on the road is not handcuffed and the video from the front that he is handcuffed? – What “one photo?” Without having this photo, it’s impossible to answer this question. It exists purely to pad out the list.
Why is the cop car in the restaurant surveillance video different than the one Floyd was lying behind (different car numbers)? – There were two cars at the scene, one with Officers Lane and Kueng, who made the initial arrest, and the other with Officers Chauvin and Thao, who showed up about ten minutes later. Chauvin was the one who held his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Why were the cops in the surveillance footage that arrested him different than the police in the actual incident? – See above.
Why does the video show the diesel fuel price as 99 cents instead of the regular price in the area of $2.49? – There’s a Speedway gas station across the street from Cup Foods, where Floyd had allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Speedway sells a small cup of coffee for, you guessed it, 99 cents.
Why does the Police Car have a non-Municipal license plate with “Police” on it? – Because all Minneapolis Police Department cars have license numbers that are simply “POLICE.”
Why does Derek [sic] have a completely different police badge on top of a second police badge matching his partner’s if they work for the same precinct? – He doesn’t. Mpls Police badges have an eagle on top, and it can easily look like a second badge on the top of the first in a low quality picture. But it’s not. See below:
Why is it not odd that both Officers Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin have both previously been investigated for excessive use of force and not charged by State AG Amy Klobuchar? Additionally, Officer Derek Chauvin is married to his partner’s sister Kelli. – “Why is it not odd” is a typical conspiracy theorist question. To whom is it “odd” or “not odd?” Who can define “odd” for someone else?
Thao and Chauvin were investigated for use of excessive force, but their cases never resulted in criminal convictions. This is pretty typical for excessive force investigations, and “not odd.” Klobuchar was never involved in the cases. And the “partner’s sister” bit is both untrue and irrelevant.
Is there any cop dumb enough to continue kneeling on someone’s neck for 8 minutes when surrounded by people and being video recorded? – Given that Chauvin was filmed doing exactly this, it feels like the answer to this question is “yes.”
Is it possible for the deceased’s cousins and fiancé to be completely tearless during interviews? – Yes. People react to grief in many different ways. We’ve gone through this with Sandy Hook, where sociopathic truthers lack the empathy to understand how feeling human beings process pain. Some laugh, some cry, some do both, some do neither.
Why does the main cop have one hand in his pocket most of the time he’s kneeling? I have no idea, nor is it relevant.
Why did the kneeling officer appear completely cool and calm, as if he was posing for the camera? – I can’t say for sure, but there’s a good chance Derek Chauvin is a violent psychopath who thinks nothing of crushing a man’s windpipe for nine minutes and maybe even enjoyed being recorded as he did it. Just a guess.
Doesn’t it seem strange that Floyd and the officer that kneeled on his neck worked security together on the same shift at the El Nuevo Rodeo Club, the officer for 17 years (both were laid off because of the Covid Virus)? They didn’t. Floyd worked at the club for less than a year, and worked as a bouncer, while Chauvin worked security. There’s no indication they knew each other.
Why do the neighbors of this officer say they didn’t know he was a cop and never saw him in uniform? I can’t confirm this is true, as it stems entirely from one YouTube video. It’s also not relevant. Why would it matter what Chauvin’s neighbors know about him or don’t know about him?
Why has the same attorney been hired as with all the other big supposed police killings of blacks? Attorney Benjamin Crump. The same attorney that worked on previous cases that resulted in busses bringing in rioters from outside the city? – The question doesn’t have any relevance to the Floyd killing. Crump is a prominent civil rights attorney, and it’s not a shock he’d be involved in this case.
So there you have it – “puzzling questions” that are either easily answered, meaningless, or have nothing to do with George Floyd’s murder.
Of course, there are real questions to be asked about Floyd’s murder – questions about the role of police in American society, about how we watch those who watch over us, about the militarization of law enforcement, about the systemic racism that’s powered our economy and justice system since the founding of America. But this list isn’t interested in any of those questions. It’s just trying to poison the well regarding this case, and to inject doubt and confusion where there isn’t any.
And it’s not even good at that.
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