Friday, November 27, 2015
I'm probably going to regret this, but....WITH EDIT
I honestly DON'T mean for this to be incendiary, but I have a question: To the best of my recollection, in all of the recent incidences of minorities, usually youth, being shot and killed by police, the victims were almost all "wanted" for one thing or another. Do the victims, due to their life choices, bear ANY blame?
I know what many of you are probably thinking....I'm just an old white guy blessed with "white privilege". That's no doubt true. I was raised in an all-white neighborhood (in the 1950-60's), I went to an all-white elementary school, and wasn't around many people of color until junior high / high school. Then I had no problem associating with any of them....they seemed just like everyone else.
Please educate me on the ways of the modern world.
The most recent police shooting of a black youth was in Chicago, where he was shot 15 times and died. FIFTEEN TIMES? I can't imagine how that couldn't be considered anything but murder, but I'll leave that final determination to the justice system. But the fact was, the cops were called out to investigate a youth who was wielding a knife and was seen trying to break into cars. I believe it was later determined that he was under the influence of drugs, too. If the kid had been home watching TV, or doing his homework, etc, he wouldn't have had the cops called to come investigate him. Right?
I can remember a police shooting in Charleston, SC where a black man was stopped for something (?), when he jumped out of his car and ran. The cop SHOT HIM IN THE BACK, which again, I can't see how could be considered anything but murder. (TBD) But it turned out the victim was afraid the cop would find out that he was waaaay behind on child support, and throw him in jail....again. So why didn't he pay his child support? Why did he run? Didn't he think that might look suspicious?
There was recently an incident near me in Arlington, TX where police shot and killed a black youth who jumped a barricade at a car dealership, vandalized some cars, then broke out the dealership's plate glass window and went inside. He was under the influence of drugs, also. The cop went in and wound up shooting the youth. The cop was fired because he didn't follow department procedure by waiting for back-up. Again, why was the youth out vandalizing instead of doing something benign at home or work?
I've heard it said it isn't hard to stay out of jail, and I agree. I've managed to do it for 65 years now. When a cop pulls next to me or behind me at a traffic light, I don't panic. I KNOW I've not given the cop any reason to be suspicious of me. If he wants to run a license plate check on me, he can go right ahead....I'm wanted for nothing. Even if I was black, it seems to me "innocent is innocent". And if harassment ensues, well, that's what cameras and complaint procedures and investigative journalists are for.
I've heard it said it's a matter of the environment these kids have grown up in, which is beyond their control. It's cool to not study in school....it's cool to go out at night and roam the neighborhood with friends. How can any reasonable person, thinking of the adults here, NOT see that as a recipe for disaster?
Is there any definitive proof that "midnight basketball" gyms will keep kids off the streets and out of trouble? If so, lets put a gym on every corner! Need more counselors and tutors to help kids stay in school? Hire 'em, and hold off on hiring yet another few paper-pushing administrators!
Cops often harass minorities, I get that. It isn't right, and it must stop! Cops who use excessive force must be held accountable, I get that, too. But shouldn't the victims have learned that making poor life choices....taking drugs, disobeying laws, etc....might come back to bite them in a fatal way?
"Well, they were just kids. Kids don't think things through all the time." Bullshit! I did when I was 12/14/16 (and 30/40/50) years old, and so did virtually every other kid I knew.
Regardless of race, creed, color, sexual preference....whatever, law-abiding people should have nothing to fear from the police. And the police should know that body-cams, dash-cams, cellphone cams, CCTV cams outside many businesses, etc, will record any abuse they dish out, so don't do it!
I know my position is overly simplistic, but it seems to me that unless / until we recognize there is plenty of blame to go around, we'll continue to see more of the same. It isn't just a minority problem, or a police problem, or a youth problem, but a SOCIETAL problem. The problem is not one-sided!
EDIT: For the record, for 18 years I sat on the Civil Service Commission of my mid-sized suburban Dallas city, along with two others, a black woman and a Hispanic man. On a few occasions we heard appeals from police officers who were "indefinitely suspended" (fired) for using excessive force, although none resulted in fatalities. Our Police Chief was a no-nonsense cop who acted firmly, fairly, and promptly, and we unanimously upheld him in his decision(s) to suspend. There is NO PLACE for brutal, abusive cops, period! So please don't accuse me of being an apologist for the police. Wrong is wrong!
I would appreciate your insight, but please, be calm and respectful.