OUT IN THE STREET, THEY CALL IT MURDER

What can be said at this point that hasn't been said before? I got halfway through writing about Alton Sterling, felt like I was repeating myself (which no doubt was true) and realized that there was nothing to say that Roxane Gay didn't say in the New York Times:

It’s overwhelming to see what we are up against, to live in a world where too many people have their fingers on the triggers of guns aimed directly at black people. I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know how to allow myself to feel grief and outrage while also thinking about change. I don’t know how to believe change is possible when there is so much evidence to the contrary. I don’t know how to feel that my life matters when there is so much evidence to the contrary.

This is what happens when tragedy becomes routine. Even with a second video that looks even worse (for the police) than the first, we all kinda know where this is going. It isn't going anywhere.The police will investigate themselves and determine they did nothing wrong. The Justice Department will make some noise and then back out once the media and public have moved on to something else.

After another round of listening to right-wing white men with hard-ons for guns (although oddly enough they don't seem to be leaping to the defense of Mr. Sterling's right to have had a gun in his pocket) invent a reality that allows them to pin the blame on anything and everything but race, we're left with the same problem. That police manage to place white people carrying guns under arrest constantly without shooting them, and that white people openly brandish guns (as allowed by law) without so much as a second glance from law enforcement, has to be explained away with complicated logical gymnastics to avoid the reality that police approach white and black suspects differently. They respond to them differently. Even black police treat black suspects differently. The culture of law enforcement reinforces the idea that a white person with a gun is probably a law abiding citizen who, even if arrested, certainly won't attack police. A black person is a criminal, period, and must be approached with a hair trigger since all black Americans really truly desire out of life is to kill cops.

In this case we've fabricated a tale in which a man with both hands cuffed behind his back and two police officers sitting on him was "reaching for a gun" despite the video showing nothing of the sort. It was bad enough in the days before smartphones when there was no visual evidence to contradict the horseshit Official Position of the police. And now that we have it, we're apparently willing to ignore it and stick with the old system of weaving a tale that conforms to our preferred conclusion, a racist version of the Just World Phenomenon wherein everyone gets exactly what they deserve and nothing more. Or less.

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34 thoughts on “OUT IN THE STREET, THEY CALL IT MURDER”

  • HoosierPoli says:

    The public pressure on police departments is like nothing that has happened before in this country. No, things aren't changing quickly, but I'm confident that in 10-20 years things will have been achieved that never seemed possible 10 years ago.

  • I was thinking this morning that this pathetic, guilt-riven police pattern is EXACTLY like that of white southerners in the 50s and 60s, where even sympathetic ones had no social capacity to rebel from the incredible social conformity that had been necessary to maintain an all-encompassing white supremacy.
    No, all the problems are t fixed, but the consciousness and tolerance for racism has dramatically altered (and failed to grasp the systemic racism that continues to bear evil effect). This newish age of being able to see what cops get up to could result in positive change if enough people can keep driven enough to IEP the pressure up. Unfortunately given the scale of the problem, it's likely to change only some places and not others.

  • It's paranoia, racism, impetuousness, and profound incompetence motivated and sustained by paranoia, racism, impetuousness, and profound incompetence.

  • British police have their share of problems, especially the Met and its ongoing struggles with racism. But they don't kill very many people. Because most of them don't carry guns, they're fairly extensively trained in de-escalation techniques. I've seen in work in situations in which American police would immediately (and unnecessarily) have resorted to force.

    Guns are becoming a substitute for skilled policing. Combine that with racism, and black people die on American streets so often it just becomes a blur of tragic and outrageous new incidents.

  • c u n d gulag says:

    What @Phillipa said!

    And armed society, leads to a jumpy police force.
    And that police force already has enough problems with bigotry. Now, it's elevated.

  • "Officer from Overseer. You need a little clarity? Check the similarity!"

    True today as it was when KRS-One spoke them.

    Police must be bummed that since all of the cameras on phones today they can't, as Chapelle put it, "sprinkle a little crack on 'em".

  • I know when they write these "open carry" and "stand your ground laws" they really, really, really want to include a clause that excludes Black men. But clearly, it turns out they didn't need to put it in writing. Cops in Baton Rouge understand perfectly well, and executed yet another man for possessing a gun while Black.

  • Spiffy McBang says:

    The depressing thing isn't that these guys will somehow be acquitted or not even charged. It's that even if they're both found guilty and sent away for long sentences, nothing will change anyway.

    Listen to the Castile video. That cop knows- KNOWS- he fucked up. And of the two, he's by far the one most likely to have nothing happen. The Sterling video is damning enough that it might result in a conviction. But still, nothing will change.

  • S M McBean says:

    In a week or so I'm sure the news on one or both of these latest victims will announce "marijuana was found in his system". They always take a blood test of the dead person but as my wife always says, where's the blood test on the cops? They're all ex- military now and probably under treatment for PTSD with happy drugs. And how about the the machismo steroid abuse of these tough guys who want to power trip? This never is part of the "news cycle" even if they do get tested. They'll always have "confidentiality" to cover their ass, and never a question if pharmceuticals, even "legitimately prescrribed" could have a bearing.

    I had a strange thought this evening: What would happen if Clarence Thomas were shot for driving while black? I imagine the Republican senators would all fall in line to insist a Democrat president shouldn't appoint a successor, even if it took 4-8-12 years. Is Wayne LaPierre as minimally qualified as Thomas was declared by the ABA?

  • I was in SAC. Say what you will, but we managed to prevent a major conflict between the US and USSR for 40-some years.

    That ought to count for something.

  • "[R]ight-wing white men with guns for hard-ons"
    FTFY.
    Hi, there, Major Kong. Did I ever tell you that my father was a radio operator on an airborne refueling plane?

  • @Major Kong, no disrespect intended whatsoever. MAD may have been literally that, but we're still here, right?

  • Very well-put, Ed, as usual.

    Side note: Please forgive my ignorance, but what's the SAC?

    Also, has anyone else heard yet about the shooting in Dallas at a BLM parade? Last I heard it, it was 11 cops shot (5 dead, 6 wounded). This is going to get ugly…

  • X-RWU: SAC is (was) the Strategic Air Command. When my dad was in it, the motto "Peace is our Profession" was always sardonically followed by "War is just a Hobby."

  • He wasn't cuffed. Prelim coroners report stated multiple gunshot wounds (used for any number over 2) and "no ther injuries.' Meaning no taser burns. Fuckers just knocked him down and executed him.

  • My friends and I began to wonder, when the open and concealed carry laws started wildfiring through the states, what would happen to a person of color who openly carried a handgun, say, or announced that he was carrying a concealed weapon. We now have our answer. Though they are handcuffed, they will be shot. Though they announce they have a weapon and are asked for registration papers, they will be shot. Persons of color apparently do not have the right to carry either openly or concealed weapons. Why isn't the NRA all over this?

  • Ahh, now it all makes sense. A 'good guy' with a gun is always white. Should have known that.

    Digby @ Hullabaloo wrote this: "We're a culture under stress and our love affair with semi-automatic weapons is making it way too easy for people in the cross-currents to act on their grievances by killing large numbers of people.

    The common denominator isn't the people — they all have different motives. It's the goddamned guns."

    I agree with her.

  • democommie says:

    Maj. Kong:

    Not our war, but Norman Lear was on Tavis Smiley and mentioned that his bomber flew what was the longest mission in the ETO during WWII (Foggia, Italy to Berlin) and that he found out at a Veteran'S Day event in 2015 that the black man sitting next to him flew cover for his group as one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

    We all bleed red.

  • My younger son (fifteen) has been disinclined to leave the house, especially on foot, since summer break started. I am having a hard time being upset about this. If he's home, he's much less likely to come to the attention of certain people.

    This has been a challenging week to be the father of a Black son.

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