Showing posts with label police brutality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label police brutality. Show all posts

Monday, February 28, 2022

Bridgewater New Jersey Racism

Justice is supposed to be blind. If the so-called justice system is not blind then it's of no use. 
This is a truism if you happen to be Black and especially if you happen to be a Black male. 
You will be treated more harshly than anyone else for the exact same violation.

It would be comforting to think that this bias only happened in the bad old days or in certain backwards Southern states but it still happens everywhere today. 
The different standard is so obvious that in the latest example even the white (or at least non-Black) person who benefitted from this bias recognized it and called it out.

A video of police officers breaking up a fight at a New Jersey mall has sparked anger over accusations that law enforcement treated the two teenagers involved in the scuffle — one Black and one white — differently. 

Friday, November 5, 2021

Beverly Hills Police Harass Black People

I have never been to prison. My understanding is that some (many?) of the nation's worst large state men's prison systems are or were until very recently informally racially segregated. 
Each large racial group has or had its own showers, recreation and exercise areas, phone banks, cafeteria sections, bathrooms, television rooms, and so on.
A man of one racial group couldn't just walk thru a different group's area without escort and permission because otherwise he might then be assaulted and set off racial brawls or riots. 
Personal interactions between different races are discouraged and/or kept to strictly business. Violations could be punished with stabbings, beatings, or other unpleasantries. There is or was a strong feeling of "This is ours, that is yours. Stay out of ours!" I don't know if my local penal system has this practice and have no intention upon ever finding out. But there is some grim brutal honesty to this system. Everyone knows just where he stands. That's prison law.
But that's not supposed to be the law outside of prison. Legally speaking there aren't supposed to be "White" areas in which Blacks can't visit for pain of official harassment or worse. But we know that there are. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Police Continue to Attack Black Men: Antone Austin and Caron Nazario

It is frustrating that I could change only the names and dates in the two stories in this post and the events would be identical to other incidents of police assault on Black men in America during the past four centuries. 
Police see a Black man and attack the Black man, even if the Black man was not committing any crime or civil violation. Police use or threaten deadly force when neither the use of force or the threatened escalation was legal or necessary. 
Police dismiss objections by saying the Black man deserved it for not immediately falling to his knees and begging massa not to whip him. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 

These incidents can occur any time, any place. When police receive a call about a man violating a restraining order they should obtain information on who the man is, his name and description, his clothing and location. But apparently LAPD officers don't bother with those details. They select a Black man in the general vicinity and attack. Though the alleged violator of the restraining order was White, it was the Black man who was choked and beaten. Music producer Antone Austin says his life was turned upside down about two years ago when police officers arrested him and his girlfriend outside his California home in what a federal lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles claims was a case of racial profiling, excessive force and unlawful arrest.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Police: Shut Up And Submit!!!

It's a source of cynical amusement, frustration, and anger to me how some Americans think that THOSE people should always immediately and cravenly submit to any and all police demands no matter how unreasonable, humiliating, unconstitutional or criminal while reserving for themselves the right to question, debate, defy, reject or resist police orders, whether legal or not. I am not overly fond of the police but it remains prudent advice that unless you are ready, willing and able to take things to that other level with the police and ultimately the state, you won't win most physical confrontations with police officers. 

Most people are quick to point that out when police employ violence against Black men or women. Police bootlickers smugly point out that if the Black person had just slavishly complied from the beginning they wouldn't have been shot, tased, assaulted, pepper-sprayed, beaten senseless, or curb stomped. Somehow though this critical insight seems to leave them when they are the ones being bullied or harassed by police officers on a power trip.

A Staten Island man says he’s proud of his family’s support for the NYPD — but that all changed after a rowdy caught-on-camera clash with cops outside his family’s bagel shop. Both Awadeh Nemer, 30, and police agree the Nov. 5 melee erupted about 12:30 a.m. outside Diddle Dee Bagels on Richmond Road in Dongan Hills after two officers on traffic enforcement asked to see Nemer’s ID. He refused, and was arrested. Who was being disorderly is where they disagree. 

Friday, July 17, 2020

Aurora Colorado Police Murder Elijah McClain And Make Jokes

So many Black men and boys are accosted, harassed, assaulted, and murdered by their local police departments that it's difficult to keep up with the numbers and stories. Somehow Black men and boys lack any patriarchal privilege to protect them. More on that later.

One August night in Aurora, Colorado in 2019, an anemic massage therapist and violinist named Elijah McClain was walking home from the convenience store, having just purchased an iced tea for his brother. Unfortunately Mr. McClain was Black. McClain was wearing some sort of face covering to protect himself against the cool night air. That was enough for some other citizen to call the police and report McClain as suspicious. Aurora's finest rushed to the scene and choked out McClain as he begged for his life.  

The police called paramedics, who injected McClain with the sedative ketamine. McClain had a heart attack and died three days later. McClain was unarmed and as far as I know had no criminal record. Unsurprisingly the coroner claimed that the cause of death was undetermined, while the district attorney promptly declined to charge any of the police or paramedics involved. 

Move along folks, nothing to see here. We didn't kill him. All we did was cut off his airflow and overload him with sedatives. Him dying is between him and God. Apparently irritated by any grief over McClain's death murder, some other police officers thought it would be insanely funny to take pictures of themselves mocking McClain's death near a memorial set up to honor McClain.

Three Aurora, Colo., police officers have been fired over photos that show two of them grinning and mocking the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old massage therapist who was arrested and placed in a chokehold last August. Mr. McClain died several days later.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Michigan White Woman Calls Police On Black Man For Reckless Eyeballing

American Black men who are present where white people think they shouldn't be are in danger of either being assaulted (if the white person in question happens to be male and/or larger than you) or of being arrested by the police (if the white person in question happens to be female and/or smaller than you).

This was often called "reckless eyeballing" after the southern habit of arresting black men accused of looking at a white woman. Looking a white woman in the eyes, or with with what she thought was sexual interest, or just making her uncomfortable could and did lead to arrest, assaults, beatings, lynchings, murders and pogroms.  

Matt Ingram was among the last convicted under this framework, in a 1951 case made notorious by civil rights activists in North Carolina. A seventeen-year-old white woman named Willa Jean Boswell testified that she was scared when her neighbor Ingram looked at her from a distance of about 65 feet. Prosecutors demanded a conviction of assault with intent to rape that was reduced to assault on a female by the judge, leading to a two-year sentence.

At the appeal in Superior Court, the judge instructed the jury that Ingram was guilty if he used “intentional threats or menace of violence such as looking at a person in a leering manner, that is, in some sort of sly or threatening or suggestive manner…he causes another to reasonably apprehend imminent danger” The all-white jury again returned a conviction, leading to a six-month sentence of labor on the roads, suspended for five years.

Cases like this were why many older Black men I know avoided even transparently consensual and utterly platonic interactions with white women. They considered it imprudent or even dangerous. But times have changed have they not? Well they have and have not. Recently not far from me, this happened:

Royal Oak police have launched an internal investigation after officers stopped and questioned a black man reportedly because a white woman said he looked at her suspiciously. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Boulder Police Officers Hold Black Man at Gunpoint For Cleaning His Own Property

Police detained a black Colorado man who was picking up trash outside his own home. A Boulder police officer questioned the man after spotting him Friday morning picking up trash with a clamper in a partially enclosed patio behind a “private property” sign, and he asked whether the man was authorized to be there, reported The Daily Camera.

The man, whose identity has not been released, told the officer he lived and worked in the building, and presented his school identification card, but the officer detained him for further investigation and called for additional assistance, saying the man was uncooperative. A roommate began recording the encounter, and video posted online shows the man trying to explain that he lives in the building and did not have a weapon.

“You’re on my property with a gun in your hand, threatening to shoot me, because I’m picking up trash,” the man says. “I don’t have a weapon! This is a bucket, this is a clamp.”
“I’m not sitting down and you can’t make me,” the man says as additional officers arrive. “This is my property, this is my house — I live here.”

These incidents are exactly the sort of thing that made the Black Panthers form in the first place. They are excellent example of how racism works. A  racist white person sees a black person and immediately assumes that the black person is up to no good. The white person then initiates force against the black person while also assuming that the black person is dangerous and has a weapon. Racism warps the mind so badly that items like cell phones, wallets, keys, skittle bags, or garbage-pickers are transmogrified into guns. And what happens when racist whites see a black man with a gun? Well, often this sort of incident ends with the black person being beaten or shot. Perhaps the only thing that prevented that in this case was the cops' knowledge that another white person was filming them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Police Tase Man 11 Times Just For Fun

Although the most charged scenarios of police brutality which get the most community attention often involve white cops and black citizens there is a deeper problem with police across the United States that sees far too many of them ready, willing, and eager to harass, bully, brutalize, sexually assault, humiliate, and even kill anyone who is not a police officer, race not withstanding. This recent example of white-on-white police violence in Glendale came to light. The disturbing things are 
  1. How the police are wrong on the law and attempt to breeze past that by resorting to the "Because I said so! " response (passengers in traffic stops are not required to give id)
  2. How quickly the police move from semi-aggressive language to ultra-violence. For too many police any response that doesn't start and end with "Yassuh boss" is reason for beating, tasing and/or arrest. 
  3. How sexually sadistic the police are in this incident-pulling down the man's pants and underwear to apply the taser to his behind and genitals. Think about it. A police officer who is sworn to uphold the law decided that it would be a good idea to tase someone's genitals.
This was rough to watch and even more frightening to experience I am sure. It is critically important that Americans stop hero worshipping the police. Some police are just thugs with badges. We must demilitarize the police. We must train police better on knowing the law and following the law. And we must harshly punish police when they break the law. Perhaps the fact that in this case the victim was Caucasian will convince some people to get their head out of their fundament as far police violence goes. The victim is not an angel. But he did not deserve what happened to him. Of course if Wheatcroft had been Black the police would probably have just shot him thirty times and called it a day. So there's that I guess. State sponsored brutality that is encouraged and tolerated against Black people often ends up being employed against white people.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Racist Detroit White Cop Humiliates Black Woman

Racism isn't just about committing genocide or hurling racial slurs in a never ending Tourette's spasm. It's also about refusing to extend the same courtesy to someone else that you would extend to a member of your own or more preferred group. It's about enforcing the law to the full extent without exceptions when it comes to THEM but being reasonable when it comes to US. Although Michigan is a great state it is also in many ways the Mississippi of the Midwest when it comes to race, though Indiana and Ohio are always in the running. One thing which my parents and other older people always stressed to me was to follow rules as best I could because usually many of the people enforcing the rules would have no mercy on me for even a minor violation. They wouldn't give me the benefit of the doubt. I learned that to be true. 

What strikes me about this story is not the fact that the officer made a legitimate traffic stop. It's that the white officer took pleasure in humiliating and insulting a black woman. Yes, regardless of race, everyone should always keep their driver's license, vehicle registration and insurance paperwork up to date and paid in full. I certainly do. But I think that in this case the officer would have found something else with which to harass the young woman.

Detroit — A Detroit police officer has been reassigned while the department investigates racially-charged comments made during a traffic stop and posted to the officer's social media this week. The alleged incident happened during a traffic stop near Joy Road and Stout Street on the city's west side Tuesday night, police said. Officer Gary Steele pulled over Ariel Moore, 23, for an expired registration on her license plate and seized her vehicle. He told Moore to exit the vehicle and that it would be towed. Moore walked about a block to her home in below freezing weather.

Friday, November 30, 2018

NYPD Cops Caught Planting Evidence

As we've discussed many times before the problem with police is not just a question of individual personal bigotry. It's that police are systemically directed and employed disproportionately against Black men. The NYPD still has arrest and ticket quotas to meet. If a cop doesn't meet these quotas he doesn't get promoted. He doesn't get plum assignments or overtime. There are a million and one ways that the command structure can mess with a cop thought to be insufficiently productive or aggressive, 

The problem is that judges and prosecutors, when faced with evidence of police misconduct and lies, will do their best to turn a blind eye to such crimes, even if they have to protect the police from themselves by halting a trial or hearing. And obviously when police investigate themselves it's quite rare that they ever find that they did wrong. Although this incident could have been much worse, it's important to remember that it's still pretty bad. A young man spent two weeks in Rikers for a crime he didn't commit, while a cop willing to commit perjury and plant evidence is still on the street along with his buddies who will insist they didn't see anything funny.

The New York Times has obtained body-camera recordings that document one arrest earlier this year on Staten Island. The videos offer a rare look at a type of encounter the public seldom sees, and show how aggressively the police will pursue a minor marijuana case, in some circumstances, and the subtle social dynamics that shape policing in New York. 
But the videos also raise questions about how far the police will go to make an arrest. Lawyers for the defendant, Lasou Kuyateh, argue that the recordings contain possible proof that one of the police officers planted a marijuana cigarette in Mr. Kuyateh’s car. The officer and the Police Department deny the allegation. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Should We Abolish ICE?

Even before the Trump directed zero tolerance illegal immigration policy in which every person who unlawfully entered the United States would theoretically face prosecution, some people, usually those who were sympathetic to illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants themselves were calling for the elimination of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In terms of immigration law, ICE's primary responsibility is interior enforcement. 

But with Trump's cruel misstep and resulting horrible images of desperate parents separated from their children more and more people have called for the abolition of ICE. Luminaries such as Keith Ellison, Pramila Jayapal, and Mark Pocan, presumptive US Representative to be, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, US Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kirsten Gillibrand, and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio have all recommended eliminating ICE.  

Some politicians, intellectuals, and activists have been coy about what they see as ICE's replacement. Others are pretty straightforward that they don't want to deport anyone. Not One More Deportation is what they believe. So they don't want a replacement for ICE. Some people claim that they don't believe in borders. They argue that citizenship is an unfair caste system that should be eliminated. They say that because the United States was born in conquest and genocide, the US has no right to restrict entry for anyone. I don't believe that everyone clamoring to abolish ICE has thought everything through. Some politicians who scream the loudest about abolishing ICE don't want to actually vote to do so.

Friday, September 7, 2018

White Dallas Cop Enters Wrong Home and Kills Black Man

I want you to imagine that you're peacefully resting, reading, sleeping or just doing whatever you like to do in your own home. 
You hear someone banging on your door. You go to see who's at the door. An armed police officer enters your home without apparent permission and without warrant because she supposedly thinks that this is her home. She then shoots you dead because you're an "intruder" in "her" home. A cynic might say that that scenario is the basic theme of American history and the European invasion of the New World. Well maybe. But it's also the tragedy that occurred to one Botham Shem Jean, a recent college graduate and associate at Price Waterhouse Coopers. I would hope that based on what the facts of the case seem to be now, that the officer who took Mr. Jean's life spends some time in prison and is not allowed to ever again have a weapon or a job as a police officer.

Based on past events though, you never know. I would not be surprised if in the next few days some racist digs up pictures of Mr. Jean playing pee-wee football from the fourth grade to "prove"  that he was some sort of "thug" who got what he deserved. And if the officer is attractive, cries a lot, or gets the right sort of people on her jury she may well be acquitted. Who can say. It's funny that all the people who were wailing and gnashing their teeth and wetting their pants over Colin Kapernick and other Black athletes protesting police violence against Black people so far don't seem to have shown the same level of outrage over Mr. Jean's murder.  I sure they will. Any second now...

Friday, July 20, 2018

Police Officer Sexually Assaults Black Man in Washington D.C.

What exactly is the proper protocol to use when someone attempts to sexually assault you? Well there isn't any one correct response for every situation. Some victims may fight back; others may try to escape or run away. Still others may freeze and just attempt to survive. 

It all depends on the victim's perception of his or her circumstances. It's all very easy to say what someone should have done if you're not that person, weren't in their situation, and have never been so violated. Sheep can talk a lot of nonsense about what they would do to the wolves...right up until the time that the wolves show up. 
Stop fingering me though, bruh!” That’s what one Washington, D.C., man told a metro police officer during a body cavity search on Sept. 27, 2017, according to the ACLU. Now the civil rights group is helping him sue the police department, calling video of the incident “shocking and unjustified.”

The lawsuit says it began when officers drove up to 39-year-old M.B. Cottingham and friends as they sat on folding chairs on a public sidewalk. There was an open bottle of alcohol nearby, and they were celebrating Cottingham’s birthday, according to the lawsuit.

Officers pulled up and asked whether the group had weapons, and they said they did not. The lawsuit says it was not clear why the officers pulled up in the first place, as the open bottle of alcohol was “was on the ground at the curb behind a parked car” and not visible from the middle of the street.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fort Worth Cop Assaults Black Hospital Patient

Imagine that you have just spent two days in the hospital. Maybe you had surgery. Maybe you ate crappy hospital food. Maybe you're tired of the smell of disease and Lysol. Maybe you've had tubes, needles, monitors, and drugs inserted into intimate places. But you're better now. The hospital discharged you. You're waiting in the hospital lobby for your ride home. You're looking forward to sleeping in your own bed and enjoying home cooking. A hospital security guard approaches you. He asks you what you're doing. You look at him askance. Either he is really stupid or he thinks you are. You reply that you're waiting for your ride. But the security guard won't go away. He starts asking who your ride is, if they know where the hospital is, if you're in the right hospital, and other questions that show that he is suspicious of and hostile to your presence. 

Becoming apprehensive you call your relative and tell them to hurry up. You also tell the security guard that yes you and your ride know which hospital you're in so please leave you alone. Suddenly, a large police officer confronts you. He pushes you in the chest. He tells you to shut up and get off the phone. When you express amazement at his aggression and attitude, the police officer punches you in the face and places you in a chokehold. Other security guards and/or police officers join the assault. They also punch you while they are piled on top of you. The police officer arrests you for the crimes of trespassing and resisting arrest.

You are physically hurt, frightened, and humiliated. You could have been killed. If you are a Black man in Texas named Henry Newson, you don't have to imagine this. It's reality. Newson didn't have any patriarchal privilege to protect himself.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Salt Lake Police Arrest Nurse And Drag Her From Hospital

I'm not a lawyer. And I don't keep up with all of the ways in which the Federal government and various states and municipalities, often with winks and nods from the current Supreme Court, attempt to get around the limitations placed on government actions by the Fourth Amendment. But one thing which still seems to be in force, in law if not respected on the street, is that the police cannot absent your consent, your arrest, a warrant or some sort of probable cause take samples of your blood, your flesh, your DNA. A nurse named Alex Wubbels attempted to politely explain this to a police officer named Jeff Payne. Payne wanted to draw blood from a man who had been involved in an accident. Payne admitted to another officer that he did not have probable cause but wanted the blood drawn anyway. Wubbels refused and explained that the hospital policy, based on the law was that the hospital would not assist unless certain conditions were met. Payne apparently lost his temper and since he had been given previous authorization from his supervisor, arrested the nurse. Watch video below. Arrest starts at roughly 6 minute mark.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Justine Damond Shooting

One of the most predictable occurrences in life is that many people simply do not understand or empathize with certain situations until it happens to them. People who privately sneer at "checkerboard" babies may change their tune when their child marries someone of a different race and they receive mixed grandchildren. People who make gay jokes often stop when their brother or sister comes out to them over Thanksgiving dinner. And people who support lifetime limits on insurance or medical settlements start singing a different tune when a drunk driver leaves them either paralyzed or in unending pain for the rest of their life, but the insurance company only provides a piddling payout that will be spent in less than a year. When people who look a certain way have problems with heroin or prescription pill addiction the media depicts them as sympathetic fellow citizens who need help and understanding. They certainly aren't subhuman inner city junkies who need to be locked up en masse. This is unfortunately the way that some people are built. Many of us can't empathize with those in pain unless those people look like us or are us. The latest example of this is taking place in the media reactions to the Justine Damond shooting. Justine Damond was a Caucasian Australian woman who called the Minneapolis Police Department to report what she thought was a possible sexual assault in the area.

As Damond was either talking to or approaching the police, possibly leaning through the driver's window or close to the driver's window, the passenger in the police car, Officer Mohammad Noor, a Somali-American, shot her through the driver's door, killing her. Supposedly both police officers had their body cameras off, which was against policy. More information is coming out on Noor and some previous complaints about him or issues that he has.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Texas Cop Kills Black Child

You might ask yourself why some white cops are so quick to use deadly force against unarmed Black men and boys. You then might ask yourself how long it would take the cops to arrest a non-police officer who fired shots into a police car that was moving away from him. And after you pondered those questions you might wonder if the system would indict a cop who killed a child for no reason at all or if the jury would convict such a cop or if the judge would give such a cop the same punishment that he or she would grant to any other similarly situated criminal. But this is 2017 America so if you're honest with yourself you probably already know the answer to those questions. But hope springs eternal. We shall see what happens to Balch Springs Police Officer Roy Oliver who, upon responding to reports of a disturbance at a house party, shot dead an unarmed 15 year old black boy, honor student Jordan Edwards, who was a passenger in a car that was leaving the location. Oliver and/or his police department initially *misspoke* (lied) and claimed that the car was backing up aggressively towards the officer. But apparently the video shows otherwise. The police department has since fired Oliver, who of course is trying to get his job back. At the time of this writing there hasn't been any arrest of Oliver. It's important to point out that Jordan Edwards was killed in front of his brothers who were also jailed for absolutely no reason. Imagine, as a child, watching your sibling die in front of your eyes, killed by the very people who are sworn to "protect" you. What sort of issues are you going to have throughout life?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Black Woman in Texas Brutalized By Police

I don't really know what to say about this story which recently took place in Forth Worth Texas. A white police officer insulted and arrested a black mother who was trying to make a complaint that a white man had assaulted her seven year old child. This story is a poignant example of white supremacy. This is really no different than what would have taken place in 1925. The only difference is that in 1925 no black person in Texas would have been under the slightest illusion that the police were obligated to respond to their calls for assistance and/or possibly arrest a white assailant. We've talked incessantly about retraining police or protesting or making police live in the areas they serve or hiring more black police or demilitarizing the police or having civilian review boards or so forth and so on. Those are all good ideas as far as they go but as we saw with the Michael Slager mistrial in South Carolina none of things mean a goddamn thing if the jury pool refuses to convict. And while convicting a truly guilty cop for abusing or killing a citizen is of course a good thing, it's infinitely better for the citizen not to be abused or killed by cops in the first place. As cops justifiably have no fear of sanctions for bad behavior from the justice system or their departments or their unions the only thing that will give bad police pause from committing wrongs upon citizens is if citizens start shooting them in the head. It is not normal for anyone to expect that American citizens should tolerate this sort of thing.This country was born in violent revolution from outrage over much lighter offenses.Other revolutions have started from anger over police brutality. The system has failed. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Kills Terence Crutcher

On September 16, 2016 Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed one U.S. citizen named Terence Crutcher. Mr. Crutcher was unarmed. He had no gun on his person or in his vehicle. His vehicle had stalled or broken down. There were no warrants for Mr. Crutcher's arrest. Police did not apparently render any assistance to Mr. Crutcher. They evidently did not put out any hazard lights, offer him a jump, help move the vehicle off the road, try to determine the problem with the vehicle, or call for a tow truck or roadside assistance. These are the things that most citizens who are having car trouble would expect the police to do. After all police are supposed to serve and protect. Unfortunately Mr. Crutcher was a black man. The police immediately saw him as a threat. In no short time after their arrival the police are yelling things at Mr. Crutcher and have him surrounded. Mr. Crutcher has his hands up. A police officer in a helicopter says that Mr. Crutcher "looks like a bad dude". And shortly after that two police officers almost simultaneously tase and shoot Mr. Crutcher. The police don't even bother to tend to the dying man's wounds but instead let him bleed out. They appeared to be more concerned with making sure that Officer Shelby was emotionally okay. Shelby has not been arrested or charged yet. I'm not being fashionably cynical when I write that I will be surprised if she does goes to trial. Her attorney is of course reaching for the tried and true tactic of claiming fear of the "big black man". Quite often this is a literal get out of jail card for white police officers. As many people on twitter have pointed out at this point if someone doesn't understand that there is a problem with police use of force against black people, disproportionately black men and boys, then they don't want to know. Most people will have car trouble at some point in our lives. Imagine running into someone who is so consumed with fear and hatred of you that there is literally nothing you can say or do that will not be interpreted as a threat. Well Mr. Crutcher didn't have to imagine that scenario. He was a Black man in America. He knew the deal. He kept his hands up even though he'd committed no crime. And he still died.

The usual suspects are already lining up to defend the police and claim that if only Crutcher had done x, y, and z then he'd still be alive. Whatever. This is the pure essence of racism-the ignorant unreasoning and unconstrained loathing of blackness. Shelby and company constructed a threat in their minds that did not exist and then acted on it. If you are so racist that blackness itself is a deadly threat then you shouldn't have the authority of the state or be able to carry weapons. This is not a training problem. This is a consequences problem. For the record you can watch the videos below. So far the people who were blasting Colin Kaepernick for his protest about police killings and brutality haven't had too much to say. Mr. Crutcher's family and their attorney speak in the last video.

Attorneys and Family Press Conference Video

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Colin Kaepernick and the National Anthem

If you have paid any attention to the news over the past two weeks you've seen that San Francisco Forty-Niners (former starting and now backup) quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attracted both praise and scorn for his act of refusing to stand for the National Anthem. Kaepernick is taking a stand so to speak to express his dismay at the status of black Americans and more specifically at the treatment of black Americans by the police. Kaepernick has mostly been met with outrage although he is starting to get more support (cautious and enthusiastic) from some of his fellow professional athletes outside of football, inside of football, and amateur brethren. And obviously since this is America a great deal of that criticism that Kaepernick has faced has been racialized. This has not just come from the usual conservative racists. People on both sides of the color line have questioned Kaepernick's self-described race, claiming that because he is biracial and relatively light skinned, he's not really black. People have called him ungrateful, ignorant, spoiled, entitled and all of the usual insults that accrue to someone who is going against the perceived grain. Those were the "nice" insults hurled by people who still needed to maintain public plausible deniability of their racism. Many people on twitter and blogs and website comment sections weren't restrained by such considerations and immediately reached for the tried and true racial slurs. Other people, including one pastor(!), just let their inner authoritarian come out to play and suggested shooting those people who didn't stand for the National Anthem. I didn't write on this earlier both because time to write has been at a premium of late thanks to a demanding Day Job and because I thought other people (including some of my blog partners) had pretty much already said everything worthwhile on the issue. Still, driving home a few days earlier listening to the condescending and clueless well known local radio host and writer Mitch Albom opine again on the issue as well as reading some other tweets I realized that maybe I did have something to write about this after all.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that for all intents and purposes Black Americans have legally been full citizens for a very short period of time in America. Until 1865 most Blacks in America were enslaved. Free or not, no blacks had any rights that a white person needed to respect. There was a Supreme Court decision making this crystal clear. Slavery ended in 1865. From 1865-1876 there was a halting and abortive attempt to redress the wrongs of slavery and extend full citizenship to blacks. This process was met with massive white resistance and terrorism. From the 1870s up until the 1960s Black Americans were effective non-citizens by force of law or threat of violence. It was only in the 1950s and 1960s that gradually and haltingly the most important laws that had enshrined black inferiority were removed or overturned. This also provoked massive white backlash in certain quarters, not just the South either. And although the law can make a bright line distinction as to what is no longer allowed the law can't automatically change what's in people's hearts and minds. You probably know all of this already. But I repeat it here to emphasize that for the majority of our country's history black people were non-citizens, either by law or by custom. As comedian Chris Rock said for Black people America is like a uncle who molested you as a child but later paid for your college education. There's a painful history there that can't be ignored or whitewashed. So it seems a little presumptuous to criticize any black person who doesn't ignore that history, particularly when as Kaepernick points out, some of the same ugly stuff that was in history books is still going on today. 

Next, there has never been a protest or movement for black progress that the majority of white people have supported from its inception. Black agitators who are recognized and admired today by some politicians or media talking heads are usually conveniently old or dead. When these agitators were alive, young and raising a fuss they weren't very popular with the mainstream. The criticisms that Kaepernick, and by extension any protester, faces are par for the course any time a black person speaks out about something he or she doesn't like. This is in in sharp contrast to a white person like Donald Trump. Trump has risen to prominence claiming that America is going to hell in a hand basket and is turning into a third world country. Somehow it's ok for Trump and his ilk to point out what they see wrong in this country but if a black person should do the same they're wrong or being divisive? Really? A police department with a history of racist comments and questionable use of force incidents by officers thinks that Kaepernick should apologize to them???? What sort of upside down world do we live in? Kaepernick is standing in a long line of black athletes such as Paul Robeson, Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Arthur Ashe, Althea Gibson, Jackie Robinson and many others who have spoken up about the injustice they've seen or faced. After all in 1972, using language which is similar to what Kaepernick used recently, the military veteran and baseball legend Jackie Robinson explained why he felt he could not sing the National Anthem or salute the flag. Was he a spoiled punk, as Sarah Palin claimed of Kaepernick? And contrary to Kaepernick's critics his net worth doesn't and shouldn't prevent him from speaking up. The fact that he and some others are willing to lose money for their stands should at least make some folks realize that there are serious questions here. The people who slam Kaepernick and other athletes as being disrespectful to military veterans do not speak for veterans. There are some veterans who support Kaepernick's right to protest and/or agree with his points.
Pride in being an American is not contingent upon standing for the anthem. As Kate Upton and Mitch Albom show, some people just don't get this. I doubt they ever will because they are self-evidently ignorant of this country's history and apparently indifferent to some current events. They can afford to be so because they don't have to worry about being harassed or brutalized by the police. They don't have to deal with trying to purchase a home and being steered away from the area they prefer. They don't have to accept living in a segregated community where properties either appreciate very slowly or depreciate over time because the larger community rejects people with their skin tone. They don't have to try to beg someone to try to rent lodgings to them or pick them up in a taxi. Their community doesn't have an unemployment rate twice that of the larger group's. If they are unfortunate enough to get caught up in the justice system they won't receive longer sentences for no other reason than their race. These things go on whether it is 9-11 or not. If you're nowhere to be found on these issues 364 days a year then I don't think you have the right to get upset when someone brings them up, even if it is 9-11. Cops are shooting black people dead and walking away clean. I must have missed Upton's or Albom's or Palin's outrage on those incidents. What I find unacceptable, to paraphrase Upton, is that the people who murdered John Crawford and Tamir Rice weren't even indicted. If you are angrier about some players declining to stand for the Star Spangled Banner than you are about a nationwide justice system that routinely produces such results something is wrong with your moral compass. What Upton and Albom and others don't seem to get is that protest by the very definition doesn't require their approval or sign off. All these conservatives who claim to be against "political correctness" sure do seem to have their own pc that that they are eager to enforce on everyone. Rather than write any more on this I think it would be useful to listen to Shannon Sharpe, former NFL star, give his take on the larger issue. No one has all the answers. But I have no use for anyone who tells Kaepernick or anyone else that they either must stand for the National Anthem (written by a slave owner who mocked black people btw) or should leave the country. Black people have been in America longer than most whites, after all. Perhaps the people insulting Kaepernick should go to another country?