Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cops Shooting Black Men: Will It Stop, Can It Stop?

John Crawford III: Shot and killed for being black?

My entire adult life this has been going on. I wasn't around when lynching was the preferred method of randomly dealing with black men, but I shouldn't be surprised in 2014 to hear of yet another black man dead, apparently for being black in a wound-up-tight policeman's world:
Surveillance video shows an Ohio man talking on a cell phone, leaning on a toy gun, and facing away from officers moments before police shot and killed him in a Walmart store, according to an attorney for the man’s family.
John Crawford III died Aug. 5 after police were called to Walmart in Beavercreek, near Dayton, by another shopper who reported a man carrying what appeared to be an AR-15 rifle.
The 22-year-old Crawford was instead carrying an unpackaged MK-177 (.177 caliber) BB/pellet rifle he picked up in the store’s toy department.
Police claim Crawford ignored their commands to drop the weapon, and the former Marine who called in the report and witnessed the shooting said Crawford “looked like he was going to go violently.”
But attorney Michael Wright said surveillance video from the incident, which Ohio’s attorney general allowed him to watch with Crawford’s family, contradicted those accounts.
“John was doing nothing wrong in Walmart, nothing more, nothing less than shopping,” Wright said.
[Ohio Attorney General Mike] DeWine said Tuesday he was glad he had allowed Crawford’s family to view the surveillance video, but he did not plan to publicly release the video to avoid tainting the jury pool.
“I thought the family had the right to view it,” DeWine said. “The mom did not want to view it; I understand it. The dad did view it, (but) to put the video out on TV is not the right thing to do.”
Wright said the family objected to the piecemeal release of evidence, such as dispatch audio and video on the day of the shooting, was biased toward the police.
“Everything released is one-sided,” Wright said. “There is nothing favorable to John Crawford. You can’t show different pieces, show it all, don’t trickle pieces to gain favor of the public.”
He said the video suggests Crawford probably did not see or hear officers as they arrived.
The list of black victims of police violence goes on and on and on. The Trayvon Martin case is a police shooting, once removed. George Zimmerman was a cop wanna-be, who was then acquitted.

For Republicans, who are predominantly white, it's all good. In fact, the whiter you are, the richer you are, the Republicaner you are, the more you like the actions of the police in Ferguson, MO, following the police shooting of unarmed Michael Brown, according to a recent YouGov poll.

This woman, speaking for her people, supports Officer Wilson. Why? Evidence?

A moment of reflection, and a question: Why, why, why is this so? Why, why, why? Here's a hint:
The [Associated Press, Oct. 27, 2012] poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties. That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).
Yes, Republicans are measurably more racist than Democrats. Everyone should already know that, unless you're in denial or watch Fox News as your main source of cultural and political literacy. Clearly, however, Democrats harbor substantial racist feelings, as well. Everyone should already know that, too. Republican ranks are whiter, Democratic ranks less so. To rewrite a Los Lobos title, white is white, whether Repub or Dem.

There is a difference, and that's in the empathy gap. Predominantly white Christian conservative Republicans don't care what happens to blacks vis-à-vis the white-cop-on-unarmed-black-man situation. not-so-predominantly white centrist-to-liberal Democrats care more. They're more likely to empathize with the plight of blacks in America and want to see things get better for both blacks and Hispanics.

The fact that white Democrats continue to harbor racist sentiments clouds the picture, but there's no denying who is on the side of minorities in this country, whether they be black, Hispanic, Asian, or women.

Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if blacks and Hispanics would say that liberal Democratic empathy and $2.95 will get blacks and Hispanics a cup of coffee. And yet, it's that empathy that brings blacks and Hispanics to vote for Democratic candidates. (As a thought experiment, imagine a black voting for Mitch McConnell or Ted Cruz.)

If the racial divide in this country isn't clear to you, you either haven't been paying attention or are in denial. Can we admit where we are and work for change? Certainly, but it will take generations upon generations to make a serious dent.

Millennials want a post-racial world. Good luck with that.

Reading assignment: Why millennials perpetuate racism by wishing it away, in Slate.

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