Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Riots and More

A few decades ago, I was on a ship that made a port call to Haifa. There were a number of guided tours available; one was to Masada. I signed up for that tour, for reasons that should be obvious to regular readers of this blog.

On the way there, the bus, a standard Israeli intercity bus, stopped at a checkpoint. A soldier in uniform came onto the bus, spoke to the guide briefly, and we were sent on our way.

Meanwhile, across the road, a bus going the other way was also stopped at the checkpoint. Its passengers appeared to be Arabs. Everyone had disembarked, with all of their belongings. The soldiers were in the process of searching everyone and everything when our bus, in essence, coasted through the checkpoint. Men, women, children, shopping bags full of food, everything was being searched.

One of the sailors on the tour bus remarked: “Them people ain’t going to put up with that shit forever.”

I tell that story as a parable for the deteriorating relations between the African-American community and the police.

Now, another story:

I went to law school in a Midwestern city. I was a member of a handful of was once called a “retreads”, the term had been updated to “second career students”. It was sort of nice, because the law professors didn’t fuck with us in the same way that they did with the fresh meat from college.

Anyway, one of the other retreads was a Black woman. She had had her own business, done very well, and had sold it. From time to time, she would drive to visit family in a Southern city. I once asked her how long it took her to drive there. She said sixteen or so hours. I expressed some surprise, as it was maybe twelve hours away. She told me she allowed time for being stopped each way, twice, by cops who were suspicious because she was Black and driving a late-model Beemer (or some other German luxury car). She regarded that with about as much aplomb as I would a drive during orange-barrel season.

This shit has been going on for a very long time.

It is within the living memory of some people that there was a time when cops called their nightsticks “nigger-knockers”. It is within the living memory of some people that there was a time when if a cop shot a Black man, there was no investigation-- all he had to do was reload his revolver. It was a little longer ago that the police would show up at lynchings in order to ensure that the murder was done in an orderly fashion.

It is beyond reasonable dispute that the NYPD’s “Stop and Frisk” program disproportionately targeted Black and Latino men. White parents don’t normally give their children “the talk” about how not to get their asses kicked or killed by the police. White scientists normally don’t end up discussing all of the times that they were hassled by the cops. When police departments are hit with consent decrees, it is almost always because of how the cops have treated minorities.

This shit has been going on for a very long time and the pressure has been building. It is not helped by the Clueless Corps of Conservatives blathering about "all lives matter", and their subtext of "there'd be no problem if all of you people would know your place." It's not helped by police militarization and the spreading police attitude that Americans, especially minorities, are the enemy.

It's getting ugly. And it's going to get worse. When you have a pot on simmer, it doesn't take much more heat to get it boiling.

But there are some glimmers of hope, for the proliferation of video recording has started to bring some of the brutal acts to light and to justice. The Rodney King case was the harbinger of that, for even though the cops that tuned up Mr. King escaped justice, the world saw what happened. Without video, the killer of Mr. Walter Scott would have gotten away with planting evidence to cover up the murder. The killer of Mr. Laquan McDonald would have gotten away with it, because his buddies lied to cover it all up (and only now, are facing some consequences for that.) In a story that has not seen much national exposure, an ex-St. Louis cops is being tried for murder from a 2011 shooting where said cop allegedly planted evidence to cover up the killing. And without video the killer of Mr. Crutcher would have gotten an attaboy instead of a manslaughter beef.

No wonder the cops want to make it illegal to video them. They want to go back to the days when they could tune up or kill people and only their testilying would be given weight.

Riots are often the protest of the powerless. You can condemn the riots, but to paraphrase Dr. King, doing so without acknowledging and condemning the underlying reality is moral bankruptcy. People are protesting and rioting because they know that the system is biased. They know that the Charlotte cops are desperately trying to frame Mr. Keith Scott in a way to show that their shooting of Mr. Scott was justified. Like the murder of Mr. McDonald by a Chicago cop, they fear that the delay and obfuscation by the city is a coverup.

It is clear that the ranks of the police contain a number of men who believe that the shooting of any Black man is justifiable. This is something that the cops, themselves, have to clean up.

You don't have to look hard to find cops and their friends bemoaning that they have lost the trust of the community. They need to take a hard look in the mirror instead of blaming video cameras and smartphones. Cops need to act as lawmen who are public servants, not as extrajudicial enforcers and occupiers. Saying, in essence, "we'll take our boot off your neck if you stop squirming" is no longer going to cut it.

But that's not going to happen any time soon.

Things are going to get worse.

13 comments:

Doug T. said...

Excellent, but sad, post EB. And the Vulgar Talking Yam (h/t Charlie Pierce) is stirring things up.

bearsense said...

Amen.

3383 said...

A lot of valid points here.
How about adding "Stop being stupid" to both sides?
Minor crimes should not be punishable by death- and I would really like the NYPD chokeholder to at least lose his job for violating procedures leading to a citizen's death- but most (not all, most) of these incidents result from police response to laws being broken.
Instead of "the talk", which sounds like a one time thing, let's instill in our children the knowledge that criminal behavior is bad, and sooner or later results in criminal penalties?
While they're still of school age, raise children to pay attention in class, to do their homework, and to not do things that get them in trouble and be able to get a decent job? Don't become ineligible for the military (a great first job) before becoming of age, at least.

Tod Germanica said...

There is a movement, at least in California, against police forfeiture (it's not RICO if the govt. does it?); and voting and other rights being restored for felons who have served their time.
Seems in Palestine though (world's largest open air prison) that the despairing inmates are voting with their knives.

dinthebeast said...

Good post. I think we may have to rethink what we want our cops to do for us. Ditching the drug prohibition laws might be a good place to start. Cops might behave better toward the communities they serve if they didn't feel hated and feared by those communities. That doesn't really address the racial aspect you were writing about, except for the racism baked into the whole drug war cake that has been so well documented of late.
I keep thinking about a story out of San Francisco a few months ago, where the cops cordoned off most of a block in the Tenderloin all day while their negotiators worked on some guy with a gun who was sort of halfheartedly attempting suicide-by-cop. SFPD weren't having any of that, and they wouldn't back off until the guy was safely disarmed and in an ambulance. At first I had sort of a cynical reaction, then it dawned on me that they had shut down most of a city block all day to save one messed up guy, and the expenditure of those resources would probably save a lot of folks in that guy's situation. Sort of the opposite of the kind of situations we read about in the news a lot these days. I know that approach would only work when the circumstances are just right, but I can't help thinking that the mentality behind the approach could be a step in the right direction in an otherwise bleak looking situation.

-Doug in Oakland

B said...

Couple of points:

What are the cops to do when the MAJORITY of young black makes commit low level crimes? Ignore the breaking of the law? At what point do we ignore the fact that 50% of the crimes are committed by about 8% of the population?

Add in the fact that when whites and hispanics are caught, they stop fighting and resisting and obey orders....the black folks don't. They keep trying to get away and very often fail to obey commands? (which is what leads them to be shot, more often than not). Are the cops just supposed to let these resistors go?

Rodney King is a perfect example of that which I am talking about. If you bother to learn, you'll find that there is about 6 minutes of video/film (that the media chose not to show) where the cops TRY to subdue him, and he just ain't having any of it....which leads the portion the news media DID show the world. Should they have let him go for breaking the law ad driving while high on PCP? Drunk?

I do not condone the killing of these young black men, but they are often complicit in their own demise. If they'd learn to behave, and to accept that they are caught, and NOT FLASH A GUN OR A KNIFE, and not fight back when the cops corner them, then they'd not be shot, more often than not. Running and then reaching into their waistband for a gun (or something that appears to be a gun, especially in the dark/low light) is a good way to get shot. But they do it any way.

Whites are hassled by cops when they act like they are looking for trouble, or look like Tweakers. When you cruise around in a ghetto cruiser with 4 in the back and 3 in the front, pot smoke streaming from the windows, rap blaring from the stereo, then you set yourself up to be checked out by the cops. Whites get treated that way too when they look like lowlifes. Sorry if looking like a decent person keeps you from being hassled. Sorry if not breaking the law openly keeps the cops from bothering you.....That is reality. Getting high on PCP and wandering the streets trashing cars will get the attention of cops....Failing to follow their orders gets you arrested.

One thing you have to realize is that almost NONE of these kids who get killed are ever choirboys...they all have a record, they almost always have a past that includes felonies and violence and resisting arrest. Few of them are unfamiliar to the police.

I assume you have little contact with black men at that level of society or you wouldn't show such an uninformed bleeding heart...

And here is a "talk" that a lot of white kids are getting these days.....http://takimag.com/article/the_talk_nonblack_version_john_derbyshire/print#ixzz4EbM3uiyn

I got a similar talk about 35 years ago by people who I respected....and it was a lesson that stood me in good stead. 'Twas true then, and it is true now.

Sorry if this doesn't fit well in your Pollyana worldview...

DTWND said...

Golly, B. I went to the link you posted. I truly hope you don't follow those 'guidelines' If you do, I would have to guess that you either are living in a 1940's and 1950's world; or you are a proud member of group that runs around hiding behind sheets and are led by the Grand Wizard.

Dale

Comrade Misfit said...

"The majority of Black males commit crimes"..... Evidence, please.

"Black folks fail to obey commands"... Evidence, please.

"Pollyanna worldview"... Now you sound like a typical conservative who is just fine with the concept of a police state, as long as the cops' boots are stamping on other people's faces.

dinthebeast said...

You know what B? I have been living in Oakland since 1984, and being a poor musician, I have spent decades in the poorest neighborhoods where the crime was the highest. Hell, I lived behind MacArthur BART from '88 to '90 at the height of the crack epidemic, and at 98th and Edes during the Rodney King riots. I don't have a fucking Pollyanna world view, OK?
Your characterization of black crime is typical right wing poltroonery, and nothing at all like the reality of being black in the US.
I don't want to start arguments with you on Comrade Misfit's blog, but this is something I actually know from experience and had to say something about.

-Doug in Oakland

Unknown said...

Excellent post

Nangleator said...

B: "... almost NONE of these kids who get killed are ever choirboys"

Damn. So, you're proposing the execution of almost all cops, B? Harsh, but understandable.

Anonymous said...

This goes both ways, as an introduction to the deep Alabama south My daughter and three of her friends were stopped for speeding and fleeing and alluding. All four were students at Auburn. They were searched, the car was searched, my daughter was ticketed. Details: all four were Presidential Scholars at the school, all four were Dean's list members in the Ginn School of Engineering, there was no contraband in the vehicle, the vehicle had out of state plates (Illinois), all four students are Caucasian, the LEO is Negro.

Did my daughter get the talk about how to behave around Law Enforcement when she was young? Damn right she did. We did get a local attorney who said that that particular 'burg was notorious for this behavior. Fine was paid. Attorney was paid. Daughter learned valuable life lesson.

The lesson, don't screw with a guy with a badge and a gun. It is better to be tried by twelve than carried by six. If you don't like the behavior of the police in your town. Run for mayor and change the police force attitude.

McChuck said...

Comrade Misfit - Poster was exaggerating somewhat when he stated that the majority of young black men are criminals. Only one third of black men are convicted felons.

Evidence - go to ucr.fbi.gov, and look it up yourself. I don't really expect you to, of course, as reality and facts have no bearing on emotional arguments.

I don't know you, "comrade", but I joined the US Army decades ago to fight the godless communists in Europe. Communists and Muslims have shot, burned, blown up, and stabbed quite a few of my friends and associates. I never expected to have to confront them here in America.