Yes, Eric Garner could have simply complied with the commands of the New York City cops trying to arrest him and been alive today. Doing time for selling "loosies," perhaps, but alive. Maybe.
Yes, Michael Brown could have obeyed Officer Darren Wilson's command to get off the street and been alive today. Awaiting trial for strong-arm robbery, perhaps, but alive. Maybe.
Problem is, complying with police commands doesn't seem to guarantee you won't get shot at, choked or killed. At least if you are a black male. And assuming you get the chance to comply at all.
Remember the police dashcam video of that driver who was pulled over in September for a seat belt violation in Columbia, S.C.? Asked for his license and registration, he turned to retrieve it from his SUV and was fired upon — and wounded — by the screaming state trooper who had stopped him. The trooper said he thought the fellow was reaching for a weapon.
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And what about young Tamir Rice, shot to death in Cleveland last month by police who came barreling into the public park where Tamir was waving his pellet gun. The officer fired on him within two seconds of arrival. Imagine how you would react if a police car came charging at you like a bat out of hell. And assume — you have to assume it because the video suggests it couldn't really have been so — that the officer really did order you twice to drop your weapon.
And then imagine you are 12 years old, as Tamir was. What chance would you have had?
Even being handcuffed and subdued seems not to be a guarantee of survival. In New Iberia, La., Victor White was cuffed with his hands behind his back and stowed in the back seat of a police car. There, according to the police, he somehow managed to obtain a gun and commit suicide by shooting himself — in the chest. Really?
The common denominator among all these victims, of course, is that they were black and male. And a young black male, the website ProPublica recently reported after an analysis of federal data on killings by police, is 21 times more likely to be the victim of such a killing than is a young white male.
And speaking of young white males, Eric Frein, who allegedly shot one Pennsylvania state trooper to death from ambush, critically wounded another and then eluded a manhunt for 48 days — well, Eric Frein was captured alive and is currently enjoying taxpayer-funded food and shelter while awaiting trial.
In New Hampshire, young white males went on a rampage this fall at an annual pumpkin festival, but nary a shot was fired nor a life lost. And while white men exercise their rights to openly carry heavy-duty firearms in stores and other public places, unmolested by the authorities, a black man toting a toy rifle through the aisles of an Ohio retail store is fatally gunned down by the police, apparently without even so much as a warning.
It's that finding by ProPublica that sticks in the mind. Something is terribly amiss in our society. It's true: Any one of these cases of extraordinary police aggression against a black man could be explained away as an unfortunate accident, an understandable instance of overreaction by men who truly do put their lives on the line every day to protect us. I wouldn't want to live in a society without such protectors.
But a killing differential of 21 to 1? That's no unfortunate accident. To argue that it is, as an old friend used to say, is "like pissing on my head and telling me it's raining."
Forty-five years ago last Thursday — Dec. 4, 1969 — a squad of Chicago police officers staged an infamous raid on the West Side headquarters of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party and slew two members of the group: Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.
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That case became emblematic nationwide of what many black activists argued was a police war on black men. But a war usually involves aggression by both sides, one against the other. In this war, the aggression lately seems to go almost entirely in one direction — and without regard for whether the person being warred against is armed or not.
What is it about black men that makes them seem uniquely threatening to the police? It's a question to which police departments — and the politicians who ostensibly control them — ought to be devoting a great deal of time and soul-searching.
Don Wycliff is a former journalist and editor of the book "Black Domers: Seventy Years at Notre Dame."
Editors note: It's not just LE, it's judges, bosses and the whole damn system....
The United States, which makes up roughly 5 percent of the world’s population, houses about 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.
Black male offenders receive 20 per cent longer sentences than white male offenders committing the same crimes.
Americans are racist, sexist, homophobic, child molesters. And because I'm white these crazy crackers come up to me spewin' their racist nonsense.
Americans are stupid backwards hillbillies that think that they know it all, what assholes. And since they don't like the message I deliver they try to shoot, ban, discredit the messenger, fuck you. I'm going to keep the truth in your face. It may be hard to see through the smoke from all the books and CDs that you like to burn but one thing ya'll can count on is that when I got somethin' to say, I'm going to say it loud.
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