Yes, I know this is my second repost in a week, and I apologize. But … there is so much here that I want to share. Not the post itself – although that is hard-hitting, as most are on Deborah’s blog – but the links. Please, guys, take a look at the links.
Here’s the thing about Ferguson – one of the many things, as I see it – and the same thing applies to many of the other cases cited in the links: We allow ourselves to be side-tracked. We hear that police shot an unarmed (black) person, and we think “That’s terrible.” Five minutes later we hear that he had a criminal history, or was running away, or was resisting arrest, or was being black in the vicinity of a crime … and we think, “Well, the cops are only human. It sucks, but mistakes happen.”
This is the same thinking that shrugs off the deaths of a busload or a building or a school full of unarmed civilians as “collateral damage”. It’s thinking governed by the idea that the victim was not “one of us” and therefore their death matters less.
It does not matter less. They Do Not Matter Less Than You Do.
It is not okay that communities are setting inadequately trained, ill-prepared armed men loose on civilians in the name of service and protection. (Note: I’m giving the cops the benefit of the doubt here. I’m assuming that they’re not bullies with shiny buttons, but rather that they simply don’t know how to handle conflict effectively, they’re scared, and they panic.)
And then they get away with it, because grand juries refuse to indict. Again and again and again, grand juries shut down due process and refuse to let the legal system of this country do its job.
I don’t know what the solution is. I don’t have any plans to take to the streets in protest myself, any time soon. But I do know this is wrong. And it needs to stop.
6 thoughts on “Kill first, ask questions later: Ferguson protests explained 140 characters at a time”
I suggest you/everyone watch this video of (black, African-American) Sheriff David Clarke of Wisconsin at the National Press Club Conference on Nov 17th where he addresses the Michael Brown shooting. It’s an understatement to say that he is angry at how the Administration is ‘playing’ this for political benefit.
The link to the video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMQCFqgAGyM
The fact that someone wears a uniform – even the fact that they take on a dangerous job in service of the community – does NOT mean they are above or beyond the law. Michael Brown may well have been every bad thing he’s been painted. He may have been a thug, a petty criminal, and stoned out of his gourd. None of that was bad enough to kill him for it. And I understand that things get out of hand, and that maybe Williams was scared, and maybe even Williams deserved to be exonerated.
But Michael Brown did not deserve to die. And when he did, Williams did not deserve to get a free pass.
The issue here isn’t “Are these various black people who commit suicide by cop bad people” or “Are the cops racist”. If people commit crimes, we have laws and courts and fines and prisons and a whole shitload of systems to deal with them. The cops don’t get to short-circuit the process by shooting them. And I really don’t care whether the cops are racists – honestly, it is my perception that most people, regardless of their color or creed, will tend to support those who are like them and objectify the Others. The issue is, do they ACT upon their racism?
And if American police are in fact shooting a disproportionately high number of unarmed black people, then I would say yes, their actions are driven by racism – whether it’s racial hatred or fear or distrust makes no difference. And they are not getting the training they need to overcome that drive, and they are not being held accountable when they succumb to it.
In my experience, some people ARE worth more than others. In most societies, the most expendable people are single, young men. The reason being it really doesn’t matter that much on a social level if they die. This is why we send them to wars, we’ll be fine if they don’t make it back.
On the other hand, women of childbearing age and children in general are worth more. This is why the news report always says “there were 83 victims of the attack, INCLUDING 10 WOMEN AND CHILDREN.”
Then there’s the amount of money you control. I don’t mean this is a cynical sense. If Bill Gates dies, hundreds of organizations, dependents and communities are disrupted, perhaps fatally. If I die, that’s sad and everybody moves on. It’s the same reason bodyguards are expected to take bullets, it’s the same reason Secret Service limo drivers are instructed to protect the President even if it means running through a roadblock made from kindergarten children.
Of course, it’s scary to think this way. It’s probably why we talk like everyone is equal and then act like they aren’t.
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Ben … I absolutely hate what you’ve said here, and I’m floundering, because at gut level I am convinced that you’re wrong – but my head is unable to come up with an immediate response. I need to ponder this. Thank you for an interesting comment, and a challenge.
One thing – I didn’t say, and I don’t believe, that everyone is equal. I believe all human beings are of equal value. I think that’s an important distinction.
More on this … I hope…:)
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Let me know if you want to make it into something bigger. I could definitely get an essay or two out of this topic.
Actually, I hate(d) the idea I espoused above, as well. Expecting to be treated as valuable and or deserving of equality when I wasn’t or deserving (young, male, poor) caused me a lot of pain. It took me years to accept the fact that I was disposable but, if I played my cards right, I didn’t necessarily have to remain disposable. When I finally did accept this formulation, it made my life much less stressful and my person considerably more formidable.
You’re absolutely right one about the distinction between being equal and being of equal value. My apologies. 🙂
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