September 21, 2016

  • Police Shootings

    I hate the shootings.  I hate the protests even more.  I might be losing my mind.  I might even be a racist.  (But I don't think so.)

    At, or near, the bottom of this post, will be an excerpt from a CNN report this morning.  That's in case you want to know what set this off.

    So anyway.  Is it racist for me to think -- just think, not assume -- that most of the protesters hurling rocks at police cars and shouting "Black Lives Matter" are black?  As I say, I don't think I'm a racist, because I really and truly believe that I have no proof, and no opinion, and don't even care, what the skin color is of the protesters.  I have no objection whatsoever to nonviolent protest, but attacking police, not to mention looting and burning down businesses and all of the other craziness that has followed shootings in Ferguson, MO, or Baltimore, MD, or more recently, Tulsa, OK, and Charlotte, NC, is NOT going to solve the problem of wrongful police shootings of unarmed black people.

    I repeat.  It doesn't matter what anyone's skin color is.  I say I'm colorblind, and I say it proudly, and I've been told I'm wrong, and maybe I'll learn why Oct. 1 and 2 when I attend a two-day workshop called "Dialogue:  Racism."  Cherry Steinwender, founder of The Center for the Healing of Racism, Houston, TX, and Marcy Jolosky will be the facilitators.  As for why colorblindness is supposedly wrong, my hunch is that the blowback comes from the perception that I'm unaware of the scars left by slavery and Jim Crow.  And I AM aware.  That's not what I mean by colorblind.

    Back to my "racist" thoughts.  I hate the fact that I say almost the same words as some right-wing nutcase said the other day when she said that black people ought to take responsibility for their behavior.  The difference is, when I say it I'm saying it with love and concern and respect.  At least I think I am.

    When a drugged-up, non-compliant "victim" gets shot (undeservedly) dead by a cop who was too hasty with the trigger finger, I'm all for a requirement that the cop be prosecuted.  (Note:  a judge or jury still gets to decide.  But do prosecute the case.)  I do feel that such a policy can be awfully unfair to a cop who is simply trying to make sure that he finishes his shift alive.  But we who back the law enforcement side of this issue have to put SOMETHING on the table.  And I've just put forth my offer.  And another part of my offer is that even if a jail sentence is deemed unwarranted, a cop who shoots under questionable circumstances should be barred from continuing in that profession.  That's plenty harsh enough, in my opinion, in cases where the shooter is "not guilty enough" to be convicted.

    But I am not only on the law enforcement side.  I'm also on the Black Lives Matter side.  And we have to put something on the table as well.  And that something is to take responsibility.  The mother who is heartbroken over the death of her drugged-up, noncompliant son should be saying, "I should have done a better job raising him," in addition to demanding justice for the shooting.

    What bothers me is that nobody (except that right-wing nutcase) is saying that the victims and their mothers should take some responsibility.  

    Michael Brown and Sandra Bland didn't deserve to die.  (Brown was shot; Bland committed suicide in her jail cell.)  But neither of them was compliant when directed by a police officer to be cooperative.  That doesn't make the cops right.  But it doesn't make Brown and Bland right either.

    Here's an incident from my personal past.

    Thirty years ago, I was working my 4 a.m. to noon shift at the Horseshoe Club in Las Vegas, NV.  At about 10 a.m. we learned there was an active shooter at the California Club two blocks away, which is where I had happened to park my car when I arrived for work.   After I got off work, I tried to get to my car.  By that time, the shooter was supposedly inside the California Club, holed up, not yet apprehended.  A city block had been roped off, and as I attempted to cross the street to get to the Club's parking lot, a police officer ordered me to keep away.  I told him I needed to drive myself home, and he repeated the order.

    Guess what.  I complied.  What else could I do?

    I walked back to the Horseshoe, found a coworker who lived near me and he gave me a ride home and the following morning, I found someone else willing to drive me downtown so that I could be reunited with my vehicle.

    I admit.  If I had been a black person and a white cop denied me access to my car, I might have had reason to be even more peeved that I had been under the actual circumstances.

    It doesn't matter.  If you don't comply with a policeman's order, you're asking for trouble.

    That's all I feel like writing for now.  Here's what I promised.  More about Charlotte, and a brief mention of Tulsa. 


    From CNN:

    Violent protests erupted overnight in Charlotte, North Carolina, after a police officer fatally shot a black man while trying to serve a warrant for a different man at an apartment complex.

    Police said the man killed, Keith Lamont Scott, had a gun. But his family members said he was carrying a book.

    Several hundred people gathered outside the complex Tuesday night, chanting "no justice, no peace!" and carrying signs reading "Black Lives Matter."

    The officer who killed Scott, Brentley Vinson, is also black, the mayor's office said Wednesday.

    The Charlotte case is the latest shooting involving an officer, and racial tensions are high nationwide following a spate of others.

    Last week's fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, sparked protests after video of the killing appeared Monday. Protesters have been demanding justice and an end to police brutality for months.

    In Charlotte, police went to serve a warrant Tuesday and shot and killed a man in the parking lot of The Village at College Downs apartment complex in the University City neighborhood.

    Scott was not the person authorities were looking for, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said.

    Scott died at Carolinas Medical Center. A gun he was holding was found at the scene, police said.


    Friday Update:

    I'm not sure what CNN was talking about when it said that the "shooting of Terence Crutcher ... sparked protests" because more recent reports indicate a calm response to the Tulsa shooting.  At any rate, the shooter is being charged with first-degree manslaughter, so that's a definite news update of the blog I posted two days ago.


Comments (7)

  • In my mind, your next-to-last paragraph says it all -- "if you don't comply with a policeman's order, you're asking for trouble."
    That sounds like an interesting workshop you will be attending. It seems to me that "Black Lives Matter" is a very racist slogan. Any time a group is singled out on the basis of race, it focuses our attention on race -- don't ALL lives matter? I fully agree that we must all take responsibility for our actions!

  • @slmret: To focus attention on race is not necessarily racist. The BLM answer to "all lives matter" is that of course all lives matter. What BLM really means is that black lives are just as important as non-black lives. That issue was specifically addressed in my post of July 12.

  • I agree with your points -- it is very sad that we have come to these racial conflicts once again. It's also interesting that the protests are mainly concentrated east of the Rocky Mountains -- there have been equally nasty incidents in Seattle and Los Angeles that seem to have been solved more peaceably or dropped by the wayside.

  • I just completed a diversity training course. I'd never heard the term "micro-aggression" before... We as a society have a long way to go before we "get it right" but we've come a long way in my lifetime.

  • Not sure if this comment is visible. My subscription expired a week ago and I can't afford to renew. If this comment appears, just know that we feel our house is adequately protected from Hurricane Matthew, which we expect to make landfall very near here, in oh, approximately 15 hours from now. Give or take.

  • Tuesday’s election says more about the character of the American people than it does about Trump. And it’s not pretty. The only consolation is that the wrong-headed votes came from people who are hurting and who are angry and they felt that had to vote for the “change” candidate.

    So I won’t call them the same names that people are calling the President-elect.

    The sterling examples set by Hillary and Barack – civility, politeness, etc. – is being ignored, sadly.

    I’m still hoping against hope that “Bad Trump” was just a campaign persona and that a “Better Trump” will miraculously emerge.

    One final, ironic thought. Eight and a half years ago, MIchelle Obama was ostracized for saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” We know what she meant, and isn’t it peculiar that the word “ashamed” can be substituted for “proud” at this time? That thought is related to the first sentence of the second paragraph above.

  • D.A.F.T. is what he is. Except, he knows what he’s doing, which makes him all the more dangerous.

    The news continues to be chilling from Washington. I’m not worried about “the wall” so much as shutting out the flow of refugees from Syria and other countries endangered by the madfolk of ISIS. And the threat of challenging “sanctuary cities” for protecting the vulnerables. And reviving construction of the Keystone XL pipelines.

    My No. 1 concern has to continue be the survival of the planet, because Mars is not yet colonizable. Addressing climate change should be a priority and instead it’s being systematically doomed to non-consideration.

    I feel for the vulnerables, of course, but they have to be No. 3 on my list right now. Right after the planet, I worry about freedom of the press. Our president, Donald Alt-Fact Trump (D.A.F.T. for short) has been systematically trying to intimidate reporters from separating fact from fiction. And I think he means to do just that. The timidest, most lapdog journalists will be the ones getting White House access. The bravest and honestest will continue to be victimized by his big-lie insults that fooled the voters in 2016.

    This is downright scary. Not that I’m saying anything new.

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