Written for and originally posted at Single Dude Travel
You have a problem with the police being militarized to the teeth, and doing whatever they want, up to and including killing innocents, with no consequences?
Get in line.
Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and Dylan Noble are examples of where the authorities either made a mistake and/or acted maliciously, and need to be held accountable. If you think the likes of James Bushey, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Alton Sterling are helping reform police behavior, you are either 1) too ignorant to realize the scumbag nature of these pieces of shit that got them killed in the first place, or 2) parading the bodies of a particular ethnic group to promote your own racist agenda. There are plenty of others that should be used as examples of injustice before career criminals resisting arrest for the 500th time, and deifying the likes of them in the hopes of changing police behavior is only hurting our chances at real reform.
It is important that I point out that this is in no way an anti-police diatribe. Being a cop is a thankless job; people take it for granted when you do your job correctly, and when a few bad eggs do the job badly or abuse their authority, people will lump them together and call them all murdering racists. It’s a dangerous job, and its one they signed up for voluntarily, just to be there when you need them. If we keep vilifying police, no one is going to be there next time you call 911 when you really need them.
Our nation’s policing system has become profit-driven instead of crime-driven, largely due to the failure of the war on drugs, and the fact that cops have been given surplus military hardware from the armed forces at bargain basement prices. SWAT team raids have gone from a few hundred per year in the 1970s to 50,000 annually, largely because they call SWAT in when “Special Weapons And Tactics” aren’t really needed, such as when apprehending a credit card scammer or raiding an organic farm for the filmiest of reasons. When a SWAT team nearly kills a 19-month old baby with a flashbang grenade, in a raid without the suspect present, how are there no charges filed? If you have problems with police behavior, start by telling them to give the military weapons back to the military; Ankeny, Iowa probably does not need a SWAT team at all, but they absolutely should not justify having one by using them to bust a credit card scammer.
And given the circumstances, for the life of me I can’t understand why people are turning people like Alton Sterling into some kind of deity that represents racial division in this country. The guy was well known to Baton Rouge police even before he had a relationship and impregnated a 14 year old girl… at the age of 20. The guy’s rap sheet includes all sort of offenses ranging from illegal weapons possession to domestic abuse, with plenty of battery charges on the list.
So, just to recap: The cops are called to deal with a felon they probably knew better than some of their own family members. The guy was brandishing an illegal weapon and threatening passersby. And then, when the cops come to arrest him, he makes the brilliant decision to resist. Whether you think this guy getting shot was wrong or not, you’re going to have a hard time getting police to treat scumbags like this as anything but a deadly threat. If me, the white male, reacted the same way, with the same rap sheet and illegal gun, no one would care if I got shot and killed by the cops. Why is this guy any different?
The Side Of Alton Sterling The Media Doesn’t Want You To See
Same goes for Eric Garner and Michael Brown. Garner was a 6’3” 350 lb man, with asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Its not like it was his first run-in with the law either – he had 30 prior arrests. How are the cops supposed to take this guy down, with a hog-tie? Couldn’t this guy have died just as easily if he was tased? “Gentle” Michael Brown, all 6’5” and 290lbs of him, had just robbed a convenience store, which led to his encounter with the cops. He assaulted the officer in question and “went for his gun”. How was the officer supposed to react, with kind words and safe spaces? If a federal inquiry from a black attorney general and a grand jury with three black members can’t find cause to charge this officer, maybe, just maybe, his story checks out, and Brown really did go after him and his gun, and the ballistics prove it?
If there’s anything to be upset about in Ferguson, it’s the police response to protests. The cops don’t need MRAP APCs, full-auto rifles, armored drones, and flashbang/stun grenades to keep protests in check. And they don’t need to point their weapons at unarmed protesters, something our soldiers in Iraq couldn’t even do to armed locals. If we want our police to treat our civilians as civilians instead of enemy soldiers, we need to start by taking the military equipment out of police hands.
I look at the case of Philando Castile as somewhere where policing needs real reform. Here you have a case of a man informing a cop he was carrying a concealed weapon, and reaching for his license. It could have been racial profiling, since he had been pulled over 52 times in the past (me, the white male, is nowhere close to that). Given his experience with pullovers and concealed carry, Castile should have known how to handle the situation much better than he did. But the cop should have handled the situation better instead of panicking and shooting him.
I’ll tell you this much: I’m a white male who sometimes carries concealed, and if I reacted the way Castile did, I could have been shot too. If there’s racial profiling going on in this department, it should be investigated, just like the officer is being investigated for this shooting. You would expect the same to happen at your job if you did something wrong or illegal, unless you’re Hillary Clinton. Cops need to get back to doing real policing and investigation of violent crime instead of writing tickets and busting people for weed possession. Castile’s rap sheet consisted of only minor offenses almost entirely related to traffic. If he was pulled over because he was black, and shot because he was legally carrying concealed, he absolutely deserves justice.
Just like all professions have bad apples, the US has some bad cops. Walter Scott shouldn’t have run from the cops, but that didn’t give police officer Michael Slager the right to shoot him and try to cover it up. These days everyone and their mother has a cell phone camera, and cops can be held accountable because people take them out and start filming all the time. If this happened just ten or so years ago, Slager probably would have gotten away with killing an innocent man.
Given the extensive media coverage given to Sterling, you would think the Dylan Noble story would be all over the news. Ten days before Sterling was shot, an unarmed Noble, outside of his vehicle and not resisting police, with one of his arms near his pocket, was shot and killed in an incident which lasted several minutes. Even after being shot and falling to the ground, officers shot him again.
Why hasn’t this been splashed all over the news like Sterling’s shooting was? Surprise, surprise! Because Noble was white. So in spite of the fact that the 13% of blacks in the US are responsible for 52% of the homicides, and cops are 18 times as likely to be killed by blacks as they are to kill a black person themselves, apparently the media thinks the killing of an illegally armed and menacing felon like Sterling deserves more news coverage than an unarmed Noble, who had no prior arrests. Given the media’s coverage of Sterling’s shooting with its surrounding “call for justice”, and relative silence on Noble’s, its safe to say the media is far more racist than the cops. And that is before you even consider statistics that show blacks are far more likely to murder and commit violent crimes against both blacks and whites. Thankfully the cops who shot Noble were wearing body cameras and the footage was released, otherwise we likely would have never known the truth about this case at all.
Body cameras can be used not just to document when police are in the wrong, but also when they are in the right. James Bushey pulled out a BB gun on two officers in Texas, who subsequently shot and killed him. The body cameras captured the whole incident and clearly showed that the officers were justified in their shooting. Body cameras can also keep police from being wrongfully accused of abusing their authority, and having a clear account of every incident should be reason enough for departments everywhere to embrace continued and expanded usage of body cameras. If you’re looking for police accountability, body cameras are a great way to get it.
Police these days are not only far too militarized; they are also victimizing people for too many harmless offenses, from speeding tickets to drug possession. Our country needs to start by getting the military weapons out of the hands of police. We can also decriminalize or legalize many harmless, nonviolent offenses, most of which are related to the war on drugs, and instead focus on locking up violent perps and keeping our streets safe. Give police incentives to solve crime instead of writing speeding tickets. And punish people heavily if they’re guilty of “swatting” – these assholes are putting our communities at great risk, all out of bitterness or a childish prankster mentality.
And when the police do something wrong, or display an obvious racial bias, hold them accountable for it. There were 1,208 examples of police homicide last year, and there are definitely bigger cases of injustice than dirtbags with extensive rap sheets resisting arrest. This isn’t about race – Bushey had it coming to him just as much as Garner, Brown and Sterling did. Stop parading around the bodies of scumbags who weren’t willing to submit to arrest #67 without resisting, and got themselves killed because of it. If you think police accountability is all about race and isn’t part of a bigger issue, then you’re the one being a racist, not the cops.
Editor’s note: Here’s a short list of white and Hispanic people you’ve never heard of that were killed by police: Juaquin Hernandez, Autumn Steele, Tommy McClain, Dillon Taylor, Frank Mendoza, and let’s not forget, Kelly Thomas. You can find many, many more stories here. It’s a shame that it seems they stopped updating the site last year because there are so few racially unbiased sources for victims of police violence. Google is fully committed to the scam, even when I search for “unarmed whites shot by police”, the first result returned is “Police killed more than 100 unarmed black people in 2015 …”. How’s that for bias? Fuck the mainstream media and fuck Google! Also see, Killed by Police.