Echoing, Baltimore, Ferguson what did you expect; 2 people gunned down savagely by police with badges and you didn’t think there would be a reaction, a response, predictably a violent one, retaliation aimed at officers?
The subheading may be a provocative one, but also a timely one since law enforcement did see the same thing in Baltimore, witnesses filming Freddie Gray’s being loaded into that ill-fated police van, him screaming in pain, legs obviously some kind of dysfunctional, hints comments “they folded him like Origami.” Still despite autopsy report findings revealing a severed spine, an indentation in the back of his head matching one of the bolts on the van wall, pointing to him hitting his head violently while being bounced all over it as it maneuvered through the city to its destination, acknowledgement he was placed in said van handcuffed but not restrained in a seatbelt, multiple stops made on the way to the precinct, at minimum one to further shackle a deemed combative Gray, known ignored pleas for both an inhaler and medical attention, those facts aren’t enough to put officers behind bars for some length of time. And adding insult to family and public injury, to say nothing of annihilating law enforcement’s credibility, the justice system on the whole’s credibility, a judge presiding over trial for one of the 6 officers charged possessed the extreme audacity to dare ask if a crime was even committed, another in the most recent acquittal calling that officer’s role an error in judgement, a mistake, not a criminal act. Never mind they had no probable cause to stop Gray to begin with, forget detain him other than running from 2 bicycle cops probably fearing a variation on exactly what happened, the pocket knife on his person an ordinary version sold nationwide, not a switchblade, never mind a man is dead as a direct result of that stop, as a direct result of being put in that van unrestrained breaking department protocol. But there is no crime here, yet they wonder why, when initial video went viral, their city went nuts; unaware, ignoring the ‘rioting’ young man who said it simply and succinctly to cameras: ‘you take everything we have, we’re gunna take everything you got,’ though he was featured in news footage. Beat cops frustratedly admonishing parents to come retrieve their errant youth; people praising parents like Toya Graham for yanking off her son’s mask, smacking him around, with news rolling live, apparently ignorant he had not thrown rocks, taunted police, demonstrated interest in anything but showing solidarity with people disturbed by what happed to Gray. Her not there either, in her time off from work, leading by example, protesting something sure to impact her offspring, already forming an impression on her oldest, doing it peacefully, doing it right, children learning by her side. Rewind slightly to New York and mayor de Blasio flayed for comments boldly commiserating with citizens over their justifiable anger toward police after a grand jury declined to indict the lead officer responsible for the chokehold ultimately killing Eric Garner. Where we had video showing exactly what the officer did: initiating the pile up atop a man trying to walk away, saying please don’t touch me, asking over and over why police were bothering, harassing him, later smiling and waving to present cameras after seeing the man he arrested carted off in an ambulance unresponsive, exactly what Garner did: passively pulling away, growing agitation not violence, his labored statements repeating 11 times I can’t breathe while officers continued to kneel on him, hold him down, press his head and body into the sidewalk. And again no charges; replacing charges, the unmitigated gall of a police union representative trying to insult everyone’s intelligence by calling what one of their own had done a seatbelt maneuver. Going back a short ways again to Ferguson, when bumbling Mayberry-esque law enforcement top brass couldn’t even get their stories straight on why they stopped Michael Brown, was it jaywalking or was it he fit the description of robbery suspects potentially guilty of stealing $4.88 in mini cigars, let alone why a lone officer pelted him with bullets, the last literally blowing off his forehead. Didn’t stop them from releasing an inflammatory video of a person committing a strong armed robbery speculated to be Brown; then seeming genuinely confused regarding why they had people looting everything that wasn’t nailed down. Funny, like rotten in the state of Demark, or Missouri, those same police had no trouble finding their riot gear, tear gassing people on their own front lawns, threatening people on live news coverage television, at least one officer indiscriminately waving his gun before any protester had brought a firearm to demonstrations there, before officers were injured by anything apart from wielded debris. The only reason Michael Slager was charged in the savage, man with a badge, induced death of Walter Scott was because civilian video shows him running away and Slager lying through his teeth about administering CPR, rifling his pockets instead; the only reason the other South Carolina officer, who shot a man in the hip, was removed from his department and charged is because his own dash cam shows the man non-violent, actually following officer instructions to show license and registration. Both arrests the products of public pressure, intense scrutiny and protest to hold police accountable than an inherent understanding what they did was wrong, should never have happened. Video not always working to bring justice, glaringly obvious in the death of Tamir Rice, independent of a patrol car rolling up on him and within quite literally 3 seconds they open fire, despite 12 year old Tamir being alone in that gazebo, only after video came out did they say they told him to put his hands up, drop his ‘gun’ from the car; one guesses because there was no audio and other people in the public park it gave the grand jury reasonable doubt, translation the redundant no indictment. Speeding us toward right now Baton Rouge Louisiana, Alton Sterling suddenly tackled to the ground by police, held down to the ground by 2 officers, one pointing a gun at his chest yelling, using expletives, threating him not to move until the other officer yells gun, 2 distinct pops and Alton Sterling is now expediently dying on the parking lot pavement; not until extended video one 3 paragraphs down do you fully realize that when that officer yelled gun, the one pointing it at such close range fired his 2 shots directly into the man on the ground’s chest, rolled off him fired at least 2 more, panickedly announcing into his radio shots fired. Police initially responding to a man waving a gun at another person, scaring him away from the convenience store where the former was selling CD’s; pistol in Sterling’s possession residing in his pocket the entire time, needing to be pulled out by officers indicating he, in all likelihood, wasn’t reaching for it while pinned down, wasn’t capable of reaching it at any rate, therefore there is no reasonable cause for him to be dead. A single day later Philando Castile’s deadly traffic stop live streamed on Facebook by his girlfriend as it happened, as Castile groaned in pain and bled out right there while the officer continues to point his gun at her awaiting backup. Why, because the officer mistook Castile for a possible robbery suspect and panicked when he reached for his ID as instructed all while trying to tell the officer he was licensed to carry and had his legal firearm on his person, in his vehicle; Minnesota, like Ohio, home of Tamir Rice, being an open carry state presence of a gun shouldn’t have ended like that. A day after two more black men succumbed to the looming danger of jittery patrol personnel former Army reserve Micah Johnson takes up multiple sniper positions killing 5 police officers present in solidarity with protesters, wounding 7 other police members and 2 civilians in Dallas Texas. Police experts, in the vast majority, not wanting to put together the connections, common threads binding all 3 into a much bigger problem, a pervasive malfunction of policing designed to enforce law and order.
Compartmentalizing for a moment getting serious about the ongoing wars we fight, waged for years, seeing no end in sight and the toll it takes on good people sent to fight them, scars left on them not erased by returning to their home geography, reentering civilian life, lasting effects we don’t have a process for mitigating, treating or have outlandish expectations as to how well it works; compartmentalizing for another moment the deaths facilitated by police leading us to no wonder Johnson practiced an extreme version of Afrocentrism, joined a Facebook page titled Kill Everything Blue That Moves. Those are almost secondary, interchangeable aspects immaterial to long term goals marked preventing future shootings up against this singular, all-encompassing question, why are police always so unprepared; by the time we had gotten to the Eric Garner grand jury decision paralleling the death of New York officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu police retaliation wasn’t new or unheard of in the wake of video gone viral putting on display police brutality, excessive force adding up to needless civilian death? At the same time the named officers were ambushed in their patrol car L.A. had already seen a cop shot at, Ferguson had already erupted once, would again when Darrin Wilson faced zero incitement and a Florida officer was killed under similar circumstance; far from random, New York and Missouri explained, L.A. a direct response to the released autopsy report of one Ezell Ford developmentally delayed, shot by police, medical examination finding one shot was to his back, at close range leaving powder burns in the wound and inciting the public, nation too focused on Michael Brown to string together the pieces. Fast forward less than 2 years nearly identically to Dallas, there couldn’t have been events any more tied together than highlighted brutality videos and Micha Johnson actions, deplorable though they certainly are, less lethal attempts across the country retribution for more black men gunned down; that very morning prior to evening protests devolving into a deranged man’s target practice, a man in Tennessee wounded an officer there, the day after, as Dallas was continuing to clean up the lingering mess left behind by Johnson, combing the city for his mentioned bombs, news reported Georgia police were lured to a location by someone wanting to kill cops. Meaning officers should have been put on alert the moment the Philando Castile video surfaced already cognizant of Alton Sterling police encounter moments captured and sentiments, as well as protests, stemming from both; officers patrolling in pairs, only wearing their uniforms on duty, practicing a heightened awareness of their surroundings. Worse, some departments are making no changes to their procedures, we would like to think it’s because they currently were doing all the listed things, are so small in population they aren’t seeing protests or backlash; however, laying odds, we’re probably up against the law enforcement version of foreign airlines who had no plans to change operations, requiring 2 people in the cockpit at all times, after a Germanwings pilot used his aircraft and 200 some people, passengers onboard to commit suicide. Laying odds once more, stubborn hold outs will be the next department plastered over national news, the next city littering headlines for attacks on police aided in success by their refusal to change guidelines, protocols, refusal to absorb the lessons incidents like Dallas teach, however tragically. Believe sniper is what threw them off, forget we had the D.C. sniper circa 2002 terrorizing beltway drivers, a northern Colorado shooter dubbed the Loveland sniper last year who shot a woman in the neck, killed a 65 year old grandfather and shattered car glass along major highways, or that there is a manhunt underway for a serial killer in Arizona sniping people outside their homes; true all of these were conducted on highways, streets, but it really takes that much to make the leap, understand someone could use sniper like tactics to gun down police after incendiary videos demonstrated plainly all too common police wrongdoing? Further Dallas is a huge metropolitan metropolis housing exponential numbers of tall buildings and it took it happening before you look up and think someone might do this, aptly named skyscrapers make ideal, prefect sniper perches; compounding what can only be called police shortsighted stupidity at our reading juncture, you have Dallas police chief David Brown scrutinizing positions of his dead officers calling the landscape adjacent to the shoot out a fatal funnel meaning their sniper took more time analyzing the area than they did when it came to where they should place officers, precautions they should take in the event of a protest disturbance, actual riot or active shooter situation—huh? As if it would have been so exceedingly difficult to say to protesters can we move your march from between locations V and W to X and Y because where you want to do it creates a bottle neck unsafe for you and for us; helmets and riot gear scrawled with the painted letters ‘sniper protection’ accompanied by an announcement to demonstrators we are not scared of you exercising your right to peacefully assemble, keep it peaceful and you will be unimpeded, we are taking appropriate safety measures against all eventualities? Why are police always so flummoxed when confronted with criminal work arounds to achieve their goals, not necessarily in the heat of the moment believing there was more than one shooter, but in the immediate post analysis, the mistaken idea no one would ever take up a sniper perch at a protest, there aren’t civilians who possess requisite training to pull off such a plan and the persons who hold aforementioned training are not unstable enough to do so, earnest in their assessment nothing like that would happen during a protest scenario? Every assumption utterly false considering the sheer amount of returning soldiers, and all their problems, coming home in the last decade; Aaron Alexis served in the Navy, he shot up the Washington navy yard obeying the voices in his head, the recent Huston rampage gunman also served, was described by family as suffering a mental health crisis, on a downward spiral, haunted after what he saw in Afghanistan and Micha Johnson was army reserve, did at least one tour in Afghanistan, he killed 5, injured 9 striking fear into an entire city. Guerilla warfare tactics were new in Vietnam, which ended 41 years ago, Guerilla warfare no longer new, neither is a moving shooter changing positions to acquire targets, whether specifically deemed a sniper or not; especially for a guy later discovered to be running combat drills in his back yard, combat drills perhaps not taught to him directly by the army, yet he had to adapt them from somewhere, closest source his time in the reserves. Dallas is a big enough, well known enough city to attract and ignite protests of the kind started by Black Lives Matter, spontaneous civilian organized demonstrations galvanized around hot button issues e.g. race, LGBT rights, abortion restrictions; we’ve had the same kind of thing happen on several occasions in the recent past and you don’t keep up to date with current, non-classified military basic combat training, the type of routine training given to military branches going to Iraq, Afghanistan as it pertains to soldiers who’ve come back to execute a rampage? Christopher Jordan Dorner was a fired cop who went on a killing spree using his training to evade apprehension, but it’s inconceivable a former solider, former police officer, mentally compromised, even someone rejected by the military, equally or more mentally compromised might take their training, what they’ve gleaned from available materials to plan criminally insane actions killing unknown numbers of people, are you serious? Dallas mayor shocked something so horrific, targeting police happened in his self-proclaimed diverse city calling it ironic because of that diversity; do you honestly think ISIS are the only ones who can deduce the effect of instructions to act where you live, we tell the same thing to people looking to make a difference in their community, when it comes to starting a co-op or farmers market, recycling program. This happened to, and in, Dallas Texas because Dallas Texas is where Micha Johnson lived; not that any city its size is immune to police issues, truths Johnson inherently knew mental state notwithstanding.
And in light of extensively listed facts and practical realties regarding scenarios various police divisions, law enforcement specialties should be fully aware of, the best thing they could do to disarm, neutralize the threat this guy presented to cops, protesters and citizens below was to, for the first time ever in U.S. policing history, send in a robot armed with a bomb to blow him apart? Sidestepping for a single second and only a single second the giant ethical questions, the creepy factor of when it is ever ok to ask if your last resort is detonating someone with an explosive, no matter what they’ve done, here perception matters. Less because of 24 hour news cycles, endless media coverage, often media generated hyperbole and more because when you have lost every ounce to shred of credibility you have with the public you are sworn to protect, nothing could be worse than using said type of tool on a black person, the picture being the first person you used it on was a black person. Underscoring the theme labeled just how little black lives mean to society at large, contrasting starkly the many white shooters who miraculously, according to some writers, come out of their rampages unharmed versus black shooters, black persons involved in traffic stops, suspected of petty crime winding up dead as a matter of course; Micha Xavier Johnson the most recent, not to mention extreme, example indicating just how quickly officers will resort to deadly force in the name of restoring public order, public safety when incidents involve minorities, minority blacks. Yes we understand, as raw as emotions are, we do comprehend, I’ve written about this myself, the reason the white shooters unequivocally come out alive is because when apprehended they offered no resistance, came quietly; delving deeper into mass shooters, spree and serial killers, school shooters fast ascertained, the numbered white, Asian, black, whatever ethnicity who either killed themselves while police closed in Seung Cho, Eliot Rodger or set themselves up for suicide by cop, Adam Lanza, Eric Harris/Dylan Klebold, Arron Alexis. We understand the harrowing threat Johnson presented to police and public, awe inspiring survivor stories making it out of the Dallas carnage talking about an officer shielding a woman and her children, officers willingly rushing in, rushing toward the shooting, others ushering civilians to safety at great risk to themselves putting on proud display heroism amidst chaos, showcasing what we knew was possible and the majority, police doing it right, living up to and dying with purpose driven by the motto protect and serve. Mindset framework established, race aside the ginormous ethical questions to using said type of weapon are the same ones associated with drone strikes, other remote targeting devices to bluntly kill people; divorcing yourself for a nanosecond, again only a nanosecond, from the very real potential for complicacy, making killing people in faraway locations, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, in an attempt to combat ISIS, appear no more distressing than playing a video game, making it too easy to lose track of the cost in human lives, the human collateral damage when those drones miss their targets hitting civilians unrelated to the fighting, merely caught in the middle. Mirroring Yemini-American terror suspect Anwar al-Awlaki whose American citizenship entitled him to due process, Johnson too held that right, yet unlike Awlaki who was also inaccessible by the reach of American law, conventional, any means of apprehension, officers had Johnson pinned down, bullets had stopped being fired at the time, a hostage negotiator brought in negotiating for hours. Leaving descriptions about him laughing, singing, taunting on scene cops and personnel to set public minds speculating, did they do this to him because he posed an imminent threat or as revenge for their slain and wounded brothers and sisters donning blue? In addition to the ethical questions asked by the Salon author from a slightly different angle covering the same topics, including noting technology outpacing law, how we had Dolly the cloned sheep before restrictions/regulations on cloning comes a technology question. If they could arm the robot with an explosive to detonate a human being, why couldn’t they also arm it with a gun to shoot him, objective to wound, use a beanbag round or tranquilizer dart to incapacitate him for arrest? Finding out, thanks to the Salon author’s research, Dallas acquired the drone from surplus military ordnance, which was a logical conclusion even without seeing it written down, in our post 9/11 war on terror, as part of the increased militarization of local police, explaining too why it wasn’t modified from its use in the middle east, only elevates the ethical and race questions, the urgency with which they must be asked; journalism cataloging time after time we have seen availability of military equipment result in disaster for protesters al-a Ferguson in the hands of the county and national guard, raids on homes conducted in suburbia using anti-tank vehicles escalating brutality leveled at citizens, bystanders, lawful protesters. Salon getting to the most important question before this peace could; what happens next time, what happens when the threat is slightly less, a little less defined, will police seeking to preserve life, blue life, reach for a robot, distancing means of lethal force before it’s called for, before it’s warranted? How long will it take before methods like those employed in Dallas will be an easy, expedient way to resolve potentially deadly situations without fully exhausting negotiation, without due process, individual cases centering around the same lying, fabricated stories used now to justify shooting people, usually to death, for petty crime; how long before we see people blown apart the same way we see people like Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shot during a traffic stop, when approached about a person waving a gun, because an officer thought they represented that kind of threat, they thought theirs, their fellow officers’ lives were in that kind of danger, only to be proven wrong later? And estimated how long will it take law, landing at the steps of the Supreme Court doubtlessly, particularly accounting for our obstructionist, republican dominated, second amendment and gun happy congress who, post Orlando had as a choice 4 gun legislation bills restricting ability to buy a gun on the grounds of expanded mental health parameters, being on the no fly, terror or any government watch list and voted down all 4, to engineer laws curtailing their use? When completely counter to the reality of what was happening in those momentous days post the Orlando nightclub massacre, a Florida congressional candidate, 15 year politician running for Florida senate Greg Evers, running over half a dozen times there and winning, repeatedly and consecutively, decided to do what, hold a custom assault rifle giveaway on Facebook; allegedly scheduled before the shooting, your sensible defense of the second amendment, the pop tart bill keeping schools from punishing kids who ‘shape their food and play with it like guns’, removing mandatory jail time for gun firing during select felonies like the woman who shot in the air to scare away her ex-husband who violated a restraining order facing 20 years in prison, you don’t think cancelling it would have been a profoundly good idea? How many will die in the interim between increasingly violent law enforcement having this at their disposal and the tipping point incident that puts it in a greater spotlight than Dallas ever did for all the wrong reasons; educated guess, too long. Too many people still grappling with why Micha Johnson was angry enough to do something so horrific to indiscriminate officers not involved in any brutality cases current or recently, well look closely at what happened to him, former army reserve, arguably mentally unhealthy, family telling the world this was unlike him, the Micha they knew and they unilaterally decide to blow him to pieces; narrative like perspective mattering here and boiled down to because they got tired of negotiating. Rather than haul him out, parade him as an example before cameras as the wheels of justice turn; remember for the people who want to call occurrences like this domestic terrorism to be treated as if it were a threat from, inspired by, ISIS, we caught and put on to trial the surviving Tsarnaev brother.
Reading up to our current paragraph illustrating it goes beyond black lives matter, really incomparable to all lives, blue lives matter because it isn’t just coming to the understanding black, minority lives are also human lives, not the animals they have long been portrayed as, the understanding black, minority lives are important, more so now with them continually under siege. The Young Turks Cenk Uygur only partially right, it isn’t from police officer point of view, police training point of view distilled down to an attitude of getting home safe, mowing down any threat toward that goal, ill-discerning of non-threatening civilians, only verbally combative, minorly guilty persons, bad training causing them to think they are the most precious thing in the world opposed to them putting their lives on the line so we can get home safe. Too many officers managing to complete police training without ever fully comprehending their job could be dangerous, involves a higher level of danger than a basic job answering phones, selling insurance, waiting tables, cooking, though their appears a lot of truth in that last statement. Going for a more nuanced approach, it’s about correctly identifying, to a reasonable standard, what is a threat and what’s not, what is a deadly threat and what is a more moderate type of threat; it is coming full circle reaching the realization when shown a picture of a black person, seeing a black person walking down the street they are not a thug, they are not a gangbanger, drug dealer, shifty criminal about to commit petty theft, simple assault, because they sag their pants, wear oversized clothes, have necklaces around their necks and name brand sneakers. They are not, if female, a prostitute working the corner based solely on her clothing and location, they did not steal it, i.e. the car they’re getting into, because they have nice things, they aren’t necessarily out of place in that neighborhood because it is upscale and they are black, they are just people going about their business like you do when off duty, during a traffic stop, legitimate questioning by police, even situations as deadly as Dallas, they are not an exaggerated, elevated threat because they are black. A person’s prior criminal record, especially surpassing 20 years old, doesn’t always render them a greater threat key when you don’t know about it beforehand; assimilating what we’ve proven pertaining to the justice system’s harsher treatment of minority, black offenders at all levels, why is it a good bet solid portions of Alton Sterling’s record is the product of aggressive policing, throwing the book at minorities the way only America’s justice system can? Similarly independent significant truth in accusations society has criminalized the hustle, black survival strategies to earn a living, feed their children desperately resorted to after being charged with varying degrees of trumped up to legitimate felonies functioning as a blacklist to ‘above board’ employment, it’s less in play lately than we think because whether you’re discussing Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, they weren’t there because Alton Sterling reportedly had an illegal gun he wasn’t allowed to own due to his criminal record, they weren’t there because he was selling bootleg CD’s. They were there because of an alleged man waving a gun; he wasn’t waving it at officers when they came up, people weren’t cowering inside the store fearful of the gun wielding maniac raving outside, in fact the store owner knew Sterling as a regular selling Cd’s from his car, had no problems with him, so why the bum rush tackle? Close examination of the extended video sees one officer kneeling on Alton Sterling’s arm, the other officer holding down his remaining arm, noticing he’s ‘fighting’ so much because he was tackled to the ground, threatened at which point you’ve activated millions of years of instinct known as fight or flight; flight not an option so fight being the only thing left. Interesting, knowing a possible gun was in play, a gun waving individual being why they were there, why did the officer yell gun like he was terrified, like it was such a surprise contrasted to something along the lines of he has a gun in his pocket, hold him while I get that gun out of his pocket? Alton Sterling wasn’t a thug, a gangbanger, drug dealer, a hood rat, a hardened, habitual criminal; he was just a guy trying to earn money the only way he could, money intended to support his children not buy drugs, get high, spent on booze. Philando Castile had no criminal record absent a sizable collection of traffic stops and citations, half of those 52 amassed in the maximum 16 years he possibly had a driving license dismissed once reaching court; a case of racial profiling or not, it’s undeniably a case of trying to fill city coffers on the basis of traffic fines secured off the backs of minorities. Philando Castile wasn’t violent, a thug, a gangbanger, miscreant, had a job, as a school cafeteria supervisor where students described him as Mr. Rogers with dreads; think where do people usually keep their license and registration, wallet, pocket being the top 2, wallet usually in a pocket of clothing. If you are a state that also demands proof of insurance when stopping people for traffic, other violations it’s a good bet most motorists will be rifling through their glove box; being a beat cop, traffic cop, someone who routinely pulls over people, deals with a variety of things you know this, or you should, enough for your first instinct not to be panic when you see someone reach for something directly after asking for the above listed items. Coming back to Minnesota being an open and carry state, when someone tells you they have a gun, and they’re not saying it in a sinister, menacing way like they plan to shoot you in the next second, which probably describes Philando Castile’s tone, familiar with traffic stops, why not wait and let him finish his sentence because he may be trying to tell you he has a license to carry, a conceal and carry permit? It’s the documented instances that keep cropping up showing no attempt to render aid once shootings have taken place, force valid or invalid has been applied; Freddie Gray asked for his inhaler, asked for a doctor, to be taken to the hospital, tried to tell police something was wrong. That van stopped 3 other times, once to shackle Gray for being too combative, yet no one put him in a seatbelt and there’s nothing in the penal code officers who initially put him there, drove and shackled him can be legitimately charged with, found guilty of except a mistake, but there’s Sunny Hostin in the first collection of videos after paragraph one saying the state rushed to judgement. Officers leaving Eric Garner on that sidewalk telling filming bystanders he’s breathing without checking that or his pulse, the delay in dialing 911, unconcerned attitude filtering down to the ambulance personnel on scene who kept trying to get Garner to wake up assuming he was just obstinate, not in distress. Half a dozen to a dozen police officers surrounding the Tamir Rice scene and he laid there for 4 minutes before anyone tried to give him any aid, administer CPR, call an ambulance. Alton Sterling was probably beyond any help by the end of the extended on scene video except calling an ambulance, but Philando Castile might have been saved if the officer, after shooting, had asked where is the gun, taken it rendering Castile and his girlfriend safe, next moving to first aid, trying to staunch his bleeding arm, giving CPR when he became unresponsive instead of continuing to train his gun on a woman armed with a phone, terror in his voce saying “I told him not to reach for it; I told him to get his hand open.” Her quick rebut, you told him to get his ID sir. Multiplying the miscarriages of justice, thanks to these cops’ ‘policing’ we don’t know if Alton Sterling was indeed the man waving a gun or if there is another one out there set to terrorize people because they zeroed in on Sterling; we do know that his children are without a father and a source of income. We don’t know if Philando Castile was responsible for the robbery officers say they wanted to question him about, information would suggest no, or if they’ve left a robber on the streets by elevating nuisance harassment against Castile; we do know a woman is without the man she loved and students at the school where he supervised the cafeteria have been robbed of a mentor under dubious circumstances. Forming a pattern, we’ll never know if Michael Brown was the person in video committing a strong armed robbery or if Darrin Wilson left a robber loose in his community tracking him, he truly died in vain. We learned right away Freddie gray was arrested under even more specious circumstances and that 1 in 2 bodegas lining the street where Eric Garner was hassled were doing the same thing, selling loose cigarettes; police actions again snatching away a father and a support system for children. We do know Walter Scott will never make another child support payment being dead because he dared run from a scary cop trying to put him back in jail for child support at which point he couldn’t pay if he wanted to, had the means to do so.
Prevailing attitude remains, there’s no need to change police culture regardless of we have a man, a civilian putting out video on how to survive a traffic stop, not departments nationwide who have seen this, unfortunate in their eyes, type of shooting happening with alarming frequency. Not that there should ever be a need, since once upon a time in the not so distant past, even though traffic stops presented a significant danger to officers, us seeing on extreme video shows and shockingly caught on tape segments officers shot multiple times unexpectedly surviving, being dragged as people sped off to avoid a ticket, outstanding warrants coming away relatively unhurt, struck by passing motorists and living to tell the tale, they never before resorted to things like what we’re seeing filmed by Philando Castile’s girlfriend, the eyewitness recording of Alton Sterling’s execution for fitting the description of someone maybe waving a gun, not actually waving one. When Senator Tim Scott, singular black republican, must resort to testifying on the Senate floor about times he has been pulled over throughout his life focusing on the 7 times in one year because police did not believe him to be the elected official he was to get his fellow republicans to comprehend then contemplate the clamors for mandatory and immediate criminal justice reform, reigns put back on our policing. Theirs added a to proverbial mountain of stories detailing negative encounters with cops by minority black young men and women becoming part of the fabric of their very existence; give a thorough reading to the following except from a narrative picked up by ABC news: “I was 12 the first time a police officer pulled his gun on me. I was walking home from the store in Detroit with the gallon of milk my mother sent me to buy when an unmarked car pulled beside me. The driver rolled down his window and asked me to stop. My mother warned me about kidnappers and told me to run away from strangers so, quite naturally, I backed away from him. That’s when the car stopped, the man jumped out, pulled out his gun and told me not to move or he was going to shoot me. I didn’t know he was a police officer looking for a burglar until I was handcuffed and in the back of his car. After 15 minutes, he said I wasn’t the person he was looking for and let me go. I grabbed the milk, walked home, went into one of the closets in our apartment and cried. Even now, at the age of 44, I still have nightmares about that day. Seeing the gun pointed at me, thinking I was going to die … and for what?” And that was roughly 1984; attention to detail noting it was the first time police pulled a gun on him making us wonder about subsequent times, the substance of the rest of the times. But there is no need to alter police culture, black people need to instead stop acting like criminals, thugs, hood rats, gangbangers, stop amassing criminal records if they want to be treated better; not the comprehension they do this better on the TV show COPS, when they arrest someone, put them up against a fence, the car to search, even if they are tackled to the ground, hands held by that officer, they ask do you have anything on you weapons, guns, knives, needles, sharps, anything that could hurt me? Imagine if they had done that with Alton Sterling, store owner testimony indicated he was confused, what if they had simply repeated why they were there, what they were looking for, because of that asking him to please show his hands and stand still; if serenely worried Sterling was who they were looking for, concerned about his reaction when confronted, why not, taking a page out of TV again, make up a more benign reason to elicit his cooperation, adequately assess if he is who and what they are looking for, cautiously question him? It doesn’t stop at aggressive policing, poor training, no aid given to people injured who maybe could have been saved with first aid, CPR, that’s bad enough; it’s the abysmal records of officers involved, people who probably shouldn’t have been on the street with a badge and gun to begin with, already lost their right to be police officers before we knew their names. Daniel Pantaleo had at least 3 separate complaints against him before chocking Eric Garner, what turned out to be to death including a pretty sick instance, if true, centering around an illegal strip search and touching the genitals of 2 African American males he pulled over during a traffic stop; except what self-respecting male do we known in America who would make up a story about an officer “slapping and tapping their testicles,” in the middle of the street, according to attorney statements, even if the goal was to ‘get at’ cops? Michael Slager was not only the key player in a tasing incident prior to his encounter with Walter Scott, important since Slager accused Scott of grabbing his taser, he’s caught on audio giving a statement to another officer in which he laughs talking about the adrenalin rush left over from shooting Scott. Nor is it that Rachel Maddow is a lesbian, bleeding heart, liberal who of course takes the side of the poor, misunderstood black man the same way ‘her people’ are misunderstood, so she can relate; it’s that she destroys them with fact, logic and common sense, whether in the Ferguson analysis after paragraph 1 or the 7th video below delving into the pasts of those who shot Tamir Rice. You don’t know who’s in charge, still not having switched your mental gears from when you let the county take over making your city resemble a war zone, you don’t know why your officer stopped Michael Brown, jaywalking or less than 5 dollars in cheap cigars, blaming the release of the incendiary video on Freedom of Information requests, while saying it was unrelated, when what people were looking for was the name of the officer, police incident reports, medical examiner findings, if you had them, failing to alert the guy in charge you planned to release it, mystified as to people’s anger and unrest. In Ohio you don’t have a policy for checking the prior employment records of officers from another precinct, department; had you done so you would have found the officer who fired the fatal shot into Tamir Rice’s stomach was about to be fired from his old job for inability to follow directions, think rules applied to him and inability to manage stress, that’s who you want handling a gun, both officers who had bizarre interactions with the public, alleged excessive force complaints to their names. It’s not just that police virtually jumped Alton Sterling as he asked repeatedly what he did wrong then was penalized for fighting officers after they slammed him to the ground, overacted to a gun in his pocket; it’s his son breaking down on national television as the family makes a statement about the horror happening to them, his son seeing his father’s death video on social media before the family was made aware there was one. It was Philando Castile’s girlfriend, hearing her little daughter in the background, 4 years old witnessing police shoot mommy’s boyfriend, seeing him die, gun pointed at all of them, once backup arrives mother placed in handcuffs, daughter beside her in the patrol car, witnessing too her justifiable emotional meltdown; hearing this woman say her daughter kept her calm, reminding her if she didn’t listen he, the officer, would kill her. We hope this child, 4, didn’t actually say that it was merely the sentiment motivating mom, but you don’t think there was a better way to handle that, take the girl away from the scene of what you felt you must do; we hear officer 1, see him training his gun on her, where was his partner in all this, the second officer named, couldn’t he have taken the girl out of the car? What do you think she will grow up thinking of the police, what lasting impression this left on her even at 4? It’s the 250 plus arrests of a man in Florida, 56 of which for trespassing at his own job, the store owner, probable immigrant judging by his accent, who installed surveillance cameras not to catch criminals, but cops, who understands police harassment better than the police do. For a comedian Bill Maher gets things spot on with alarming accuracy, the police department can’t be revenge for high school, about getting the authority you never had as a kid, it can’t be the first time you feel a little nervous, sense the slightest ‘threat’ you reach for and use your gun immediately, bam, bam, bam so you won’t get hurt. And we do have psychological testing to weed out those 2 types of persons, why aren’t we using it; how did these people pass the psychological testing to become police officers? You hear the fear in the officer, who shot Philando Castile’s voice; what was he doing with a gun never mind the authority to carry it along with a badge in a professional capacity, especially when his fear stems from someone attempting to give you requested documents, attempting to tell you they have a permit for their gun?
Then over the weekend following one thwarted attempt to kill Baton Rouge police a man succeeded in ambushing, killing 3 cops and wounding at least 3 others; president Obama making clear it can’t be open season on police, there is no justification for targeting police and justice on their behalf will be done. Quick rebuttal being why not Mr. president, it’s been open season on us for years going all the way back to Rodney King, video proving what we said long before; video again proving black lives aren’t safe at the hands of police forget being treated with respect or dignity, only it’s still not enough. That is not to condone violence, but rather like Mr. Maher to understand it, not to excuse violence rather to explain it; you can’t keep shooting our people at the slightest provocation, many times none at all, and not know someone, somewhere, sometime will shoot back, it is inevitable under current untenable conditions. Paralleling a blogger commenting about the protests turned riots and looting in Ferguson, easily applied to Baltimore “Looting, too, is about power. When people have nothing and something happens to remind them, in a big way, that what little they do have can be taken away in an instant, including their lives and the lives of their children, they may reach for any semblance of power or control they can get. That might mean breaking a window or even starting a fire. It may mean taking something. Something you’ve been told you can’t have because you’re not human enough to live, let alone prosper.” Shooting, sniping too is about power, getting power back from police who indiscriminately shoot us sans consequence, who treat us like less than human enough to be accorded the dignity given a dog , forget equally, left dying on sidewalks, Eric Garner loaded into an ambulance too late and like a slab of beef, not a person. Shooting too is about the psychological effects; minority, black brains on horror, stress 24/7, seeing brutality slammed in our faces, living through it. We’ve been targeted for years by citizens and police alike racial profiling, driving while black, shopping while black, walking down the street in the ‘wrong’ place while black, a man arrested, not once, but 56 times for going to his job, because ‘everybody know, particularly the police, black people don’t have jobs getting by on welfare, food stamps, criminal enterprise not work.’ Black boys and girls, men and women gunned down looking for help after an accident, playing in a park, walking home from a store, accusations leveled at a 14 year old taking out the trash of stealing guns got him shot by a neighbor and caught on film; man finally put away. Only recently have police so much as deigned to say this is wrong, always before it was they did it, acted by the book, Maher saying it straight; you need a new book. Injustice so bad even insolated whites can no longer ignore it, no longer cling to their picture of police as infallible, swallow the isolated incident mantra peddled at them and us, seeing with their own eyes what they didn’t know before; police are out of control and what if it was your kids? There was no justification for 6 officers with batons wailing on an already subdued King, no justification to shoot Laquan McDonald walking away from officers, no justification for John Crawford III being gunned down in a Wal-Mart walking around with a pellet gun deciding whether to purchase it, no justification for Marlene Pinnock beaten by police for walking too close to the freeway, allegedly taken into custody for her own good owing to the same reason, no justification for Kametra Barbour subjected to a felony traffic stop terrorizing her in front of her 4 children when police got the wrong car, wrong make up of occupants and proceeded with the stop anyway. There was no justification for Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, the guy with 250 plus arrests and thousands of other names besides, perhaps a little for Michael Brown but nothing that should have ended in death. No justification for Tamir Rice and the danger of his toy gun, played with in a place where children play, a park; maybe if they were trained long enough and well enough they would have recognized he was 12 not 20. Where was our justice to be done for our slain sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, loved ones who mattered as much to us as those officers killed in Baton Rouge, the ones brutalized in Dallas, targeted elsewhere matter to their families; forgive us if we say now you know how we feel when we send our children to the corner store, send them out to play, let them walk to a friend’s house, hoping they’ll come back alive, we won’t see them on the news, injured, dead. Bill Maher right about something else drastically overlooked, you signed up to be a police officer, no one conscripted you to police work, you were fully aware of its dangers when you donned the uniform and badge; we were conscripted to these streets by virtue of our income, our misfortune, bad luck, often what’s making it feel like conscription is you Mr. officer treating us with suspicion because we’re here, we dare look you in the eye. We’ve been marching, chanting no justice no peace, I can’t breathe, hands up don’t shoot and nothing’s changed, not in 25 years unless it was to get worse. But Black Lives Matter is inherently racist according to the last New York mayor, Black Lives Matter should be classified as a terrorists group according to petitions reaching the Whitehouse; no it’s not and no it shouldn’t. Black Lives Matter is just that, a reminder black lives matter, not more than all lives, more than blue lives but the reality black lives matter too. It’s seeing Alton Sterling’s 15 year old break down spurring us to stand up and say black lives are mothers and fathers too; Alton Sterling had a gun because of area muggings just trying to get home safe like you. Black lives are sons and daughters too, Sandra Bland wouldn’t have been driven to death, ending her life in a cold jail cell if you had simply left her alone or maybe if she could have made bail, worked out how a traffic stop and blowing cigarette smoke in an officer’s face landed her where she was; sure it’s not nice but millions do things every day that aren’t nice, 90% not going to jail. Black lives are brothers and sisters too, aunts and uncles too, too many of whom, like little Tamir, whose sister tried to rush to his side, don’t come home at night; not for erroneous reasons of banging, drive-bying, drugging, thugging, drinking, robbing, stealing, breaking and entering, criminal mischief, assault, domestic abuse, but for getting on the wrong side of a white person, usually a cop. Guaranteed if the tables were turned and whites were being targeted the way blacks had been all these years there would be no peace, their demands for action and change much louder, violence against black police and black persons would have broken out and to a much greater degree than it has with blacks gunning down police as retribution. Instead you have, in the epitome of contrast Alton Sterling’s oldest son calling for peaceful protest, Philando Castile’s girlfriend upset about Dallas, protesters hugging cops there, young people seeking change and peace not riots.