Like It or Not: Praise for Gwinnett County

Opinion piece by George Chidi

A word of thanks to Gwinnett County.

I believe this country has a problem with the use of force disparities, and I’ve been vocal about it. I’m the sort of person who writes AJC editorials after police shootings. And then I argue in the comments. (Don’t do that.)

I march in Black Lives Matter protests. The next march might be awkward because I’m here to give credit where I think credit’s due. Gwinnett County is doing the right thing, and they need a shout-out so the rest of America will know what the right thing actually looks like.

Two Gwinnett County cops were captured on video a couple of weeks ago striking an unarmed, unresisting driver at a traffic stop. One appears to punch him square in the face. The other stomped the driver’s head as he was on the ground.

Now in other places, normally, the cops would get desk duty for three months while it’s “investigated.” Maybe they’d get fired. Maybe. Often, it’s just a quiet reprimand in the file.

They usually don’t get fired, because powerful police unions block it. It also adds to the guy’s case in a civil lawsuit. And cops almost never actually get prosecuted for decking someone.

Look, I believe in police accountability. 10 years ago, when I was with the AJC, I got thrown out of this very police station because I didn’t think they were being transparent enough and they didn’t like how I was complaining.

So look at this! The cops kick the snot out of a black guy on a Wednesday, the chief, “Butch” Ayers, fires them on Thursday, and Danny Porter, the DA, charges them with misdemeanor battery and violating their oath of office all of two weeks later.

You mean, it’s actually possible for this to work the way it’s supposed to?

This is an emotional moment for me. I’m so happy.

(Doesn’t mean we should stop watching – or recording – of course.)

But it does mean that all the excuses we hear from other agencies in other departments are just that. If a police department in a conservative community can do the right thing, I’ll hear no excuses from places with more progressive leadership.

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DISCLAIMER: This segment represents the views of the commentator and not necessarily those of FOX 5 Atlanta.