Tuesday, July 12, 2016

separate but equal?


DOTE |  First, and just to get this point out of the way, Johnson's "killing spree" was totally meaningless unless one deems it meaningful that humans have big brains which can go haywire and often do. If you follow that uncomfortable truth to the end of the line, you risk becoming a social pariah. Few take that path!

Secondly, what we see above is that the shooting or abuse of unarmed black men by white police officers, which is routine in the United States, has been conflated with the actions of a single black man whose big brain had gone haywire. These incidents are taken to be separate but somehow equal. What's wrong with this picture?

I'll tell you what's wrong with it — in the former case, we're talking about a real and alarming trend reflecting implicit racial bias, whereas in the latter ("killing spree") case, we're talking about a one-off. Big brains go haywire all the time, but let's be specific:
How many times have black men armed with assault rifles carried out sniper-style attacks on white police officers?
Never! — until last week (as far as I know, and read here). Certainly there's no trend.
How many times have white police officers killed unarmed black men since January 2015?
Police have shot and killed a young black man (ages 18 to 29) — such as Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. —175 times since January 2015; 24 of them were unarmed. Over that same period, police have shot and killed 172 young white men, 18 of whom were unarmed. Once again, while in raw number there were similar totals of white and black victims, blacks were killed at rates disproportionate to their percentage of the U.S. population.
Of all of the unarmed men shot and killed by police in 2015, 40 percent of them were black, even though black men make up just 6 percent of the nation’s population.
And, when considering shootings confined within a single race, a black person shot and killed by police is more likely to have been unarmed than a white person. About 13 percent of all black people who have been fatally shot by police since January 2015 were unarmed, compared with 7 percent of all white people.
Perhaps these raw statistics don't seem quite as damning as Black Lives Matter people would like to argue, but we are talking about only the most extreme cases here — black people were shot and killed. What about "less extreme" cases like this? (Vox, July 7, 2016). This incident is described by a former St. Louis police officer who is black. Reading this account requires a strong stomach.
As a new officer with the St. Louis in the mid-1990s, I responded to a call for an "officer in need of aid." I was partnered that day with a white female officer. When we got to the scene, it turned out that the officer was fine, and the aid call was canceled. He'd been in a foot pursuit chasing a suspect in an armed robbery and lost him.
The officer I was with asked him if he'd seen where the suspect went. The officer picked a house on the block we were on, and we went to it and knocked on the door. A young man about 18 years old answered the door, partially opening it and peering out at my partner and me. He was standing on crutches. My partner accused him of harboring a suspect. He denied it. He said that this was his family's home and he was home alone.
My partner then forced the door the rest of the way open, grabbed him by his throat, and snatched him out of the house onto the front porch. She took him to the ledge of the porch and, still holding him by the throat, punched him hard in the face and then in the groin. My partner that day snatched an 18-year-old kid off crutches and assaulted him, simply for stating the fact that he was home alone.
I got the officer off of him. But because an aid call had gone out, several other officers had arrived on the scene. One of those officers, who was black, ascended the stairs and asked what was going on. My partner pointed to the young man, still lying on the porch, and said, "That son of a bitch just assaulted me." The black officer then went up to the young man and told him to "get the fuck up, I'm taking you in for assaulting an officer." The young man looked up at the officer and said, "Man ... you see I can't go." His crutches lay not far from him.
The officer picked him up, cuffed him, and slammed him into the house, where he was able to prop himself up by leaning against it. The officer then told him again to get moving to the police car on the street because he was under arrest. The young man told him one last time, in a pleading tone that was somehow angry at the same time, "You see I can't go!" The officer reached down and grabbed both the young man's ankles and yanked up. This caused the young man to strike his head on the porch. The officer then dragged him to the police car. We then searched the house. No one was in it.
And the point is...
These kinds of scenes play themselves out everyday all over our country in black and brown communities.
Beyond the many unarmed blacks killed by police, including recently Freddie Gray in Baltimore, other police abuses that don't result in death foment resentment, distrust, and malice toward police in black and brown communities all over the country. Long before Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown last August, there was a poisonous relationship between the Ferguson, Missouri, department and the community it claimed to serve. For example, in 2009 Henry Davis was stopped unlawfully in Ferguson, taken to the police station, and brutally beaten while in handcuffs. He was then charged for bleeding on the officers' uniforms after they beat him.
So every time somebody treats that Dallas killing spree — blue lives matter — as akin to police brutality against black people in the United States — black lives matter — you can say "bullshit!" because that's what it is.