Wednesday, September 18, 2013

To protect and serve. Or just shoot a bunch of times--I forget which one.

Another day, another unarmed black man shot by the police.

I know that's not the reality, but that is certainly how it feels sometimes. I'm sure you can excuse my cynicism.

If you don't know what I am talking about, please click here. They've got a comprehensive summary of the events.

As I've said before, part of the problem when you are talking about race is that you can never really know if race was a factor in any particular incident, unless all the parties involved agree that it was. And 99 times out of 100 if there are white parties involved, they are going to say that it wasn't. Why? Maybe because if they admit it, they will get the devil's spawn label of racist.

So white people, stop lying to yourselves and others when you do something racist. And black people, stop using white people's racist behavior as an excuse to jump down their throats without offering anything constructive that might help them change. Sigh. I can tell I'm freakin' annoyed. But I'm going to press on, because I've got a lot to say about this.

In a number of ways it doesn't matter if Jonathan was white or black--he's dead. And a cop killed him. There are lots of things about this that open up the possibility that it wasn't racially motivated. It was Saturday night, it was dark, he was built like an ex-football player, he was running towards the cops, the woman who called 911 probably gave the impression that he was some sort of criminal, since she was calling 911 instead of asking him through her locked door why he was banging on it at 2:30 in the morning. And maybe the cop was new or something.

Also, I can off the top of my head recall a white guy in my city that was recently killed by the police (though he had a weapon,) a white pregnant woman that was thrown on the ground and handcuffed (though she was not visibly pregnant, and she got 250k for her ordeal.) And let's not forget about the white grandma and white college student that were tased by white cops (Don't tase me, bro!) Oh, there is an incident where a young white man with Down Syndrome was killed by police when they were trying to subdue him for sneaking into a movie that he wanted to watch a second time. That one didn't even make the news (at least not the channel I watch.)

So, just like police apparently need to learn that perhaps they should change their approach when dealing with a person with a developmental disability, perhaps they should try harder to resist the conditioning that they've gotten from The Birth of a Nation, their grandparents, and/or gangsta rap that tells them to shoot 10 times when a big black man that's just been injured in a car accident is running towards them.

And just a PSA for my readers: If you are ever walking towards the police and they tell you to stop and you don't, they are trained to shoot you--even if they believe you are unarmed. Why?

Because if they don't shoot you, you could get close enough to them to overpower them and take their gun and shoot them. Also, they are not going to shoot to wound. They are trained to aim for the largest part of your body (your chest.) And if you get shot in your chest, there is a good chance that you are going to die. So, all that to say-- just do what the police tell you to do.

It may not seem like it, but I'm not trying to bash on cops. Number one, I don't feel like getting harassed for the rest of my life. Number two, I know their jobs are stressful and they have to deal with a lot of BS. I was even arrested once (a story for another blog post,) and the cop that I dealt with was actually pretty cool. I just wish that cops wouldn't always stick together and support the few among them that are doing wrong.

Like, I can't remember the exact statistic, but in most departments there are a couple of officers who get complaint after complaint, and most officers get one or none. But those officers with multiple complaints against them are allowed to keep their jobs, in no small part due to the police unions that for some reason think those people shouldn't be fired.

I'm speaking directly to cops right now: Those "bad apples" are giving your profession a bad name, and everyone would be better off if they weren't part of your organization. Forget this code of silence crap, and listen to your conscience. You probably got into this profession to help people, but it can be hard to do that when some of your co-workers are unjustifiably abusing and killing others. Being able to legally kill people is a privilege, and it would make sense to me that you would want people that are given that privilege to be held to very high standards.

Ok, I'm not talking to the cops anymore. As a citizen of the United States, it should be reasonable to assume that the people that swear to protect and serve you will do just that. You shouldn't have to worry that your physical size, your skin color or anything else is going to cause them to take an action against you that has fatal consequences. If Randall Kerrick is actually guilty of this crime, I hope that he receives a serious and significant punishment, and that police officers across the country will applaud the verdict as a sign that the community (cops included,) will not just stand idly by and allow things like this to happen.

So, that's what I think. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments.


  1. D. Austin4:58 PM

    My gut tells me at trial, the defense is going to say he had a right to shoot because (as you stated) he was running toward the cop. However, a good prosecution lawyer would say that most criminals run AWAY from the police.

    I don't think this is racism as much as it is stereotyping. My guess is the white cop didn't hold hatred in his heart for black men, but more fear of the unknown when a fit black dude is running toward him.

  2. After reading you were arrested I'm very looking forward to that post. I just can't see what a card carrying MENSA smartie would have done to attract police attention and arrest. Were you protesting something smart?

    While I've never been arrested I was ??? Not too sure what to call it. I was in a huge parking lot with about fifty people. I was in a PROM DRESS along with about 5 others. Anyway, we were all in an abandoned parking lot and there was a no trespassing sign that stated no trespassing after 11pm (it was 11:15ish) and the police blocked off both exits, collected everyone's drivers license told us all to meet him at the police station...all fifty of us.

    We were all held in a room until trespassing tickets were written and then we could leave as soon as the ticket was written. We didn't get our license back until we paid our ticket. Mine was $55.

  3. It goes without saying, this was a tragic incident. My first reaction was why is anyone so afraid of a knock at the door that they don't have the calm good sense to ask, through the locked door who's there and what do they want? Offer to call for help for the person.

    Unfortunately, many people are baecoming prejudiced due to situations like exist in Little Rock right now. Every single day there are shootings and armed robberies. It seems to be continual now. And the unfortunate fact is that 95% of the time, the description of the criminals reads something to the effect that they were young black men, wearing hoodies and carrying guns.

    The continual crime there perpetuated by mostly young black men is driving a new level of prejudice and fear that will extract a heavy price. I fear it may be extracted from innocent, law abiding young black men.

  4. C. Random10:06 PM

    I am going to use the anonymity of the internet to vent.

    I do not like cops.

    I know its appropriate in these situations to be P.C., and recognize that they have hard jobs, but I think they are generally dumb and or have control issues. They are thugs. The thugs of the state. We put this "protect and serve" crap on the cars because "state thug" would be too honest.

    I think the scariest part of your post was when you said, "all that to say-- just do what the cops tell you to do". That says it all right there. They are peons who are given power by the state, and now all of sudden people give them respect.

    Okay, I vented, now I feel bad. You are right, its just the bad cops. The bad cops are probably rare, but those few bad cops are HUGELY problematic. I think the whole idea of police, and "security" in generally needs to be rethought. It is very uncivilized. Yes, there are criminals, but cops may just be collateral damage greater than anything the criminals could do.

  5. My late father was a police lieutenant in our town and was liked and respected by most everyone. I can assure you that no one dislikes bad cops more than good cops do. One more thing, if you are ever being burglarized, followed, or physically threatened, don't call the police, since you don't like them.

    My father was a highly intelligent, well read, churchgoing man who did a great many kindnesses for people of all kinds. Your comments make me feel ill.

  6. i've written nearly a book in response to this and erased it a few times.

    here's the bottom line - how many bad cops there are is irrelevant. what is relevant is that a bad cop can destroy or end your life with little to no consequence taken upon himself.

    and i know very few people that don't know that. and none of the people that don't know that are black. add in to it that ferrell's sister was a cop and there is no way that cop told him to do something and he didn't listen. zero.

    on the other hand i have more sympathy for the woman. it's the middle of nowhere nc and someone is banging on your door unintelligibly at 2/3am? and it's you and an infant. if you were ever going to call the cops that seems like a good time, no?