- Politics and Social Issues
Black Lives Matter & the War on Cops
There is no war on cops.
Roughly one thousand people are killed by police every year in America (there’s currently no federal database). In contrast, about 100 cops (unfortunately) die on the job each year. Of those hundred unfortunate deaths, the vast majority result from vehicle collisions – not targeted killings.
It is far more dangerous to be a garbage man, or a roofer, a trucker, or basically anyone who deals with heavy machinery, than it is to be a cop in America. We live in literally the safest time to have a career in law enforcement in US history - yet 58% of us believe there is a war being waged against them.
To most of us: Cops killing scores of unarmed black people unpunished + black people protesting = war on cops.
Self-described wacko bird Ted Cruz has accused Black Lives Matter of celebrating the murder of cops. Potential fascist-in-chief Donald Trump has condoned the beating of BLM protesters at his rallies (his campaign compared the incident to Trumpists interrupting a black church service).
FBI Director James Comey has blamed BLM protesters for frightening cops so thoroughly that they are incapable of doing their jobs, resulting in a (non-existent) spike in inner-city violent crime - dubbed the Ferguson Effect. This is a thinly-veiled threat of violence against the populace. If cops aren’t allowed to violate our civil rights without criticism, let alone consequence – then they will unleash anarchy. Nice little city you have there... Pasty bureaucrats & AM howlers have labeled BLM a domestic terrorist group. We live in a country where the mere suggestion that perhaps black lives matter as well somehow requires not only a rebuttal, in all lives matter, but an outright counter-movement in blue lives matter.
There is no war on cops.
Americans are terribly racist. It’s historically been our default. Sure, we don’t keep blacks as pets anymore, as they are equal citizens in theory. But all we’ve really done is introduce subtlety into our racist practices. We don’t lock our blacks in chains anymore. We keep them locked away in cages. We don’t have slave patrols or lynch mobs anymore; we have justifiable homicide-by-cop, and an ever-expanding interpretation of the castle doctrine. It is no longer in good taste to use the n-word in public. So we instead call them thugs & gangbangers, and we speak of urban culture. We’ve replaced literacy tests & poll-taxes with Voter ID laws, felon disenfranchisement, shuttering & shortening hours of voter precincts.
The city of Chicago has a multi-million dollar restitution fund for the years of physical torture levied against young black males in the city. Not in the 1960's – this century. Chicago police have a literal black site, specifically (unofficially, of course) used to violate the civil rights of its citizens. The Homan Square site has been used for torture (including anal assault), and is generally used to keep suspects from having a lawyer present during questioning, or from making phone calls.
Police reports show that Laquan McDonald stabbed the tire of a police cruiser, and lunged at officers with a knife. He never stabbed the tire. He was shot twice while standing, and fourteen more times on the pavement. His murder by Chicago police was covered up by the entire corrupt system. From the poorly trained & terrified killer-cop who murdered Laquan in cold blood, to the other eight cops on the scene who not only remained silent, but went back and erased video evidence from a nearby Burger King, to internal review, the police union, the chief of police - all the way up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State Attorney Anita Alvarez. Officer Jason Van Dyke was allowed to keep his tax-payer-funded job (on desk duty) for 13 months. Alvarez finally filed charges, hours before dash cam evidence was released. Unwillingly of course, it took thirteen months, repeated judicial orders, and numerous FOIA requests.
Mike Brown punched an officer in his cruiser, was shot, and ran. We were led to believe that he suddenly morphed into super negro, and decided to charge the officer after fleeing over 150 ft. The prosecutor blatantly threw the case, forcing the grand jury to let Darren Wilson walk.
Twelve-year old Tamir Rice was murdered in cold blood by Cleveland police. He had a toy gun in an open-carry state. He was shot within two seconds of officers arriving. They claimed he refused repeated commands to drop the gun. His sister was handcuffed, and thrown into the back of the cruiser as he died. A year later, still no charges.
Eric Garner was choked to death on video. His crime was breaking up a fight, and being known for selling un-taxed loosies. Officers escalated and escalated, until he was choked him to death as he pleaded for air. The only person charged has been the guy who captured the video.
John Crawford was killed for having a toy gun slung over his back while talking on his cell phone to his mother in an (again, open-carry) Ohio Walmart. Cops say he was pointing the gun at customers, and refused commands to drop the weapon. They interrogated his girlfriend, and attempted to get her to say he brought the gun. Video once again proved they were lying. No consequences.
Time after time we are assured in contemporaneous reports that officers were justified because of this or that. We are assured that they will investigate themselves, that we must simply be patient. Then we get the silent treatment. Ongoing investigation.
Mounting evidence suggests that we do not simply have a few bad-apples. Internal investigators are considered snitches. Good cops in bad neighborhoods are weeded out - harassed & left without backup until they transfer to a nice white neighborhood. It’s the culture. The thin blue line. It’s the system. Thanks to the SCOTUS, cops are legally justified in using lethal force so long as they claim within reason that they got scared. When local judges are elected, they can’t afford to have police unions in opposition for holding their members accountable. Same goes for prosecutors, who have symbiotic relationships with the cops, who are often star-witnesses & evidence gatherers. Overwhelmingly-white juries take the word of cops as bond and rarely find them guilty.
Blacks are far more likely to be stopped & searched by the cops. Being comparatively random, searches of blacks are far less likely to turn up contraband. When drugs are found, blacks are far more likely to be charged than whites. Blacks are given harsher charges for the same acts. They are more likely to be found guilty at trial. They are given harsher sentences when found guilty of the same crimes. They serve longer time in prison, even when receiving the same sentences. Many states won’t let felons vote, or live with someone receiving food stamps (SNAP) or living in public housing.
We have a supreme court which has said that racism is both a thing of the past, and has spread throughout the country. They’ve gutted the Voting Rights Act - crown jewel of Civil Rights Era legislation. In the process of eliminating race as a standard for Affirmative Action, Justice Scalia suggested that blacks don’t belong in good colleges because they learn slower.
Racism is like a liquid. It’s amorphic. It accumulates at the bottom. Worst of all, it makes up part of all of us. We are all bombarded with the same stereotypical portrayals of people of color (POC) by a melanin-deficient entertainment industry. We all see a similarly-pasty news media describe & depict black victims as drug/gang adjacent ne’er-do-wells; and white murders as troubled formerly –adorable children, or head-cases at worst.
We all have implicit biases & in-group favoritism. In simulations where we shoot armed individuals, blacks are shot much quicker than whites, both when armed and unarmed. It takes longer for us to associate positive terms with black faces. Ebay auctions with items held by black hands receive lower bids. AirB&B requests by black sounding names are more likely to be denied. Job applications with black sounding names get fewer responses. Beginning at the age of 11, black children are perceived as 4.5 years older, and assigned more culpability. We steal their innocence from their children.
Black people are far more likely to be in unemployed or in jail. They are far less likely to be a politician, a CEO, a professor, or an engineer. They have far less wealth/lower incomes. They even live shorter lives. Yet some of us look at all of this and say, What’s wrong with the blacks? We point to Oprah & Obama, and ask why they don’t all simply lift themselves by their bootstraps. We blame the culture. We blame the fathers. We blame the music. We blame them for drugs. We blame their work ethic (ever since they stopped working for free).
If rich white people know any blacks, they are likely to also be wealthy, and likely to share their conservative views. Poor, rural white people want to hold onto the antiquated notion that everything right with America is sepia toned. We want to hold believe that we are superior to someone, anyone. We go to great lengths to deny racism, to deny white privilege. We take it as an attack. We see a zero-sum game. The ascendance of anyone else must mean the decline of whites. The decline of America. We want our country back.
In recent polling, seventy-eight percent of voters chose all lives matter, to eleven prevent identifying with black lives matter.
What we fail to recognize, is that all lives do not face the same threats that black lives are forced to endure in America. In rich white neighborhoods, the police provide customer service. They're a bunch of Andy Griffiths, and that is how rich white folks view the cops. Stands to reason. They aren’t harassed for trivial actions such as grilling meat or catching a bus. Their kids aren’t harassed for looking suspicious. When white kids in nice neighborhoods are caught doing something wrong – well, that could be a judge’s kid, or the mayor’s nephew. Roughing them up, or even holding them accountable for their actions, could be a big mistake.
The current situation is untenable.
Respect is something which our police forces require. Trustworthiness is something we must require of them. We give them a gun, and with it the ultimate authority to end a person’s life. Those responsibilities must be taken seriously. The police literally work for us. They must be trained to protect the lives of civilians at all cost, not protect their own hind-quarters at all cost. They need to be trained to deal with sometimes difficult mentally ill people. They need to jettison the view of disrespect as the ultimate crime. They need end the 21-foot rule. They need to stop killing us. This is not normal. This is not acceptable.
Law enforcement must have proper civilian oversight, not simply internal investigators. We need to incorporate more cooperation with community watch programs - mot more money for more cops - in urban communities. The majority of cops should be required to live where they work. They should see the same community they serve in church on Sunday, and at the football game on Friday night. They should have both dash & lapel cams, which they should not be allowed to simply & unilaterally disable on a whim (same goes for the audio).
Cops are trained in deescalation roughly 5% of the time that they are trained on firearms & defensive maneuvers. They use simulators in which citizens jump from cars immediately shooting. They are trained to treat every citizen as a potential threat. They need to respect the rights of protesters to assemble and speak their minds in public spaces. Cops must no longer be used to wage a racially charged war on drugs, ensnaring black and brown people into a system which is difficult to escape. They apparently need to be trained not to shoot people in the back, shoot people who are hand-cuffed, people who are in the fetal position, people with their hands in the air, people who are naked and obviously unarmed, people with butter knives, et cetera. Unfortunately, cops are given military equipment & quotas and unleashed upon the community, who are seen as potential threats, as the enemy, and cops the occupying force.
There is no war on cops. There is a demand for better trained cops, and for accountability to the people.