Dear former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao:
You had a difficult job: Maintain peace as your co-workers restrained a suspect. You stood between them and those on the sidewalk yelling for the officers to stop doing what they were doing.
To stop killing a man.
You probably didn’t agree with what your co-workers were doing. You probably wanted to say something to them. You probably agreed with those on the sidewalk.
You had a dilemma: Support those who would have your back in a difficult situation or allow them to continue restraining a handcuffed man who was facedown on the ground and begging for air and stand up against the bystanders on the sidewalk.
Once you left the scene, you figured you likely would never see those bystanders again. You would, however, see those three other officers, maybe daily.
What would those officers say if you had taken the side of the bystanders, of the man on the ground begging for his life, begging for the right to breathe?
Maybe they wouldn’t have your back in a difficult situation. Maybe they would harass you in ways you couldn’t report. Maybe they would set you up in a way that might be problematic to remaining a police officer.
Maybe if you had stood up against your co-workers instead of against the bystanders, George Floyd would be alive. Maybe if you had stood for right instead of brutality, you would have set a great example of what to do.
Your actions have been seen around the world.
Imagine if you had been caught doing the right thing, the humane thing, the thing that went against a blue code and in favor of humanity.
Had you done the right thing, Tou Thao, you could have set the example for others who wear the uniform. Had you done the right thing, you might have made it easier for other officers in similar situations to do the right thing, to break the cycle.
I’m haunted by what I saw. I can’t unsee it. I can’t unsee your inaction, no, your action to deliberately protect officers and allow them to kill a man as the world watched.
You could have done the right thing. You didn’t.
I blame you more than the others. You could have stopped them. You had a chance to say stop.
I feel sorry for you. I feel sorry for the position you were in. I hope you find peace with your role in a man’s death and the unrest happening in the city you were supposed to protect.