George Floyd died after complaining that he couldn’t breath when a police officer put a knee to his neck for over five minutes during his arrest. It’s the latest viral incident involving excessive force of law enforcement on African Americans that has mortified many people across the country -- but not Petal, Mississippi Mayor Hal Marx.
According to the Miami Herald, in now deleted tweets from May 28, Marx tweeted: “Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?”
Twitter user Jason A. Darby responded saying, “Would be nice to get a few in there that understand reasonable force, when it’s needed, and don’t give the rest of them a bad reputation.”
Marx then tweeted in response: “If you are talking about the incident in MN, I didn’t see anything unreasonable. If you can say you can’t breathe, you’re breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn’t show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”
This is Hal Marx, the current mayor of Petal #Mississippi, saying that he sees nothing “unreasonable” about the murder of #GeorgeFloyd by cops.— MS Rising Coalition (@MississippiRise) May 27, 2020
Hal Marx is part of the problem.
How can anyone in public service continue to hold office after remarks like these? pic.twitter.com/L9UCykiu5P
After firing off the tweets, Marx further advanced his baseless theory to The Clarion-Ledger that Floyd died as a result of something else rather than the pressure of former officer Derek Chauvin’s knee to his throat. He also claimed his comments were “misinterpreted.”
“I think that people are so quick to judge the police before they have all the facts,” Marx told the outlet. “I can’t say whether a crime was committed or whether they did anything right or wrong, all I’m saying is don’t rush to judgment based on what you see in that video.”
He continued: “I’ve seen too many cases before where the police were judged to be guilty in the public’s eye but later were found to be not guilty under the law. For sending that, all of a sudden I’m called racist, I need to have a knee put on my neck — all kinds of hateful stuff simply for having an opinion and asking people to get all the facts before they judge.”
An autopsy for Floyd has yet to conclude his cause of death.
Marx later took to Facebook Live and offered a half-hearted apology for his comments, while still trying to defend the four officers involved in Floyd’s death.
“The man’s death, Mr. Floyd, was a tragedy no matter what caused it,” Marx said. “We should mourn for his death, obviously, but let’s also wait for all the facts to get out before we condemn these police officers who may or may not have done anything wrong in this case. I do think unfortunately when race is involved, it makes things much more explosive than other issues. This really to me was not a racial issue but I see where African-American citizens, of course, consider it that and for good reason. I understand that.”
He continued: “I apologize to the people who may have thought I was trying to minimize this man’s life but I simply was trying to say these police officers deserve the benefit of the doubt until we find out more.”
Hal Marx was elected mayor of Petal in 2009 and was re-elected in 2013, according to The Herald.
Photo: City of Petal, MS and Facebook