These cases do not negate the good that can, and hopefully will, come from America’s newfound determination to root out racial injustice. Given the gravity of police misconduct in this country, there is little doubt in my mind that the overall thrust of the changes set in motion by the protests over the murder of George Floyd is highly positive. Nevertheless, it would be a big mistake—especially for those who deeply care about social justice—to dismiss the fate of people such as Cafferty, Shor, and Wadi as a minor detail or a necessary price for progress.

First, these incidents damage the lives of innocent people without achieving any noble purpose.

Second, such injustices are liable to provoke a political backlash. If a lot of Americans come to feel that those who supposedly oppose racism are willing to punish the innocent to look good in the public’s eyes, they could well grow cynical about the enterprise as a whole.

Third, those of us who want to build a better society should defend the innocent because movements willing to sacrifice justice in the pursuit of noble goals have, again and again, built societies characterized by pervasive injustice.