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“Cop Killers Serve No Cause”: It’s Getting To The Point Where No Lives Matter

How can anyone ever explain this to Mason?

He’s only 4 months old, so that moment still lies years in the future. Still, at some point, too soon, he will ask the inevitable questions, and someone will have to tell him how his dad was shot to death for being a police officer in Baton Rouge.

Montrell Jackson was not the only cop killed Sunday, nor the only one who left a child behind. Officer Matthew Gerald and Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Garafolo also had kids. And it’s likely that in killing five police officers earlier this month, a sniper in Dallas robbed multiple children of their fathers, too.

So there are a lot of people having painful discussions with a lot of kids just now. But Mason’s father was the only one of these eight dead cops with the maddening and paradoxical distinction of being an African-American man killed in protest of police violence against African-American people. He left a Facebook post that gave a glimpse into how frustrating it was, living on both sides of that line — being both black and a cop and therefore, doubly distrusted.

“I swear to God,” he wrote, “I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat.”

“Please,” he pleaded, “don’t let hate infect your heart.”

Nine days later, he was dead.

Counting two New York City policemen murdered in 2014, this makes at least 10 cops randomly killed in the last two years by people ostensibly fighting police brutality. But those madmen could hardly be bigger traitors to that cause.

One is reminded of something Martin Luther King said the night before his assassination, when he explained “the problem with a little violence.” Namely, it changes the discussion, makes itself the focus. King had been protesting on behalf of striking sanitation workers in Memphis when unruly young people turned his march into a riot. “Now … we’ve got to march again,” he said, “in order to put the issue where it is supposed to be.”

These cop killers leave us a similar dilemma. Instead of discussing the violence of police, we are now required to discuss violence against police and to say the obvious: These killers serve no cause, nor does any cause justify what they did. They are just punk cowards with guns who have changed the subject, thereby giving aid and comfort to those who’d rather not confront the issue in the first place.

But if we don’t, then what? One often hears men like Rudy Giuliani and Bill O’Reilly express contempt for the Black Lives Matter movement of protest and civil disobedience; one is less likely to hear either of them specify what other means of protest they would suggest for people whose concerns about racially biased and extralegal policing have been otherwise ignored for decades by government and media. If not Black Lives Matter, then what? Patient silence? Acceptance of the status quo?

That isn’t going to happen, and the sooner the nation understands this, the sooner it moves forward. Sadly, that move, whenever it comes, will be too late for Mason and dozens of others left newly fatherless, sonless, brotherless, husbandless and bereft. Still, we have to move. The alternative is to remain stuck in this place of incoherence, fear, racial resentment … and rage. Always rage.

But rage doesn’t think, rage doesn’t love, rage doesn’t build, rage doesn’t care. Rage only rends and destroys.

We have to be better than that. We have no choice but to be better than that. We owe it to Mason to be better than that. He deserves a country better than this mad one in which his father died, and life is poured out like water.

Jocelyn Jackson, Montrell’s sister, put it best in an interview with the Washington Post. “It’s getting to the point where no lives matter,” she said.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, July 21, 2016

July 24, 2016 Posted by | Gun Deaths, Law Enforcement, Police Brutality, Police Shootings | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Do We Humanize White Guys Who Kill People?”: We Live In A World Made For And Shaped Around White Men

On Friday, November 27, a 57-year-old white man named Robert Louis Dear allegedly injured nine people and killed three in a shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Among those shot were four police officers, one of whom died. As several media outlets and many on social media noted, Dear was given the opportunity to surrender peacefully, just like convicted mass shooter James Holmes, and alleged Charleston mass shooter Dylann Roof, both of whom are white, and very much unlike the black men, many of them unarmed and not engaged in criminal activity, who nonetheless have been shot and killed by law enforcement in just the past couple of years: Laquan McDonald, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, John Crawford III, Freddie Gray, Rumain Brisbon, Walter Scott, Eric Harris …

By Monday, reporters had begun to gather information on Dear’s past, including allegations of assault, rape, animal cruelty, and being a peeping tom. A Washington Post story detailed at least eight episodes in which Dear “had disputes or physical altercations with neighbors or other residents.” Yet the headline of the Post story practically conveyed a kind of tenderness, with its description of Dear as “adrift and alienated.” An early version of a New York Times report went further, leading with a description of the shooter as “a gentle loner who occasionally unleashed violent acts toward neighbors and women he knew.” The Times, which has since produced some of the best and most thorough reporting on Dear, soon changed the careless wording of its initial story.

But what the earliest attitudes toward a man who allegedly sprayed bullets into 12 people — people who were parents, cops, friends, husbands, wives, Iraq War veterans — show us is the reflexive sympathy, interest, and dignity that we as a nation, our law enforcement and our media, are capable of extending even to those who commit monstrous acts.

Provided that those monstrous actors are white men.

It is, of course, correct and just that Colorado Springs officers made such efforts to take Robert Dear alive. It’s also perfectly humane to acknowledge that individuals are capable of containing troubling contradictions: that even criminally aggressive people may be lonely. But the notion that we might understand a person with the capacity for violence to also have the capacity for gentleness is downright laughable set against the contemporary backdrop of state violence committed against black men. An ability to consider Robert Louis Dear as a complex and compelling figure, one whose motivations might be worthy of our curiosity, highlights our lack of curiosity about, and certainly our lack of compassion for, all kinds of nonwhite, non-male figures who might themselves be adrift or alienated.

Robert Louis Dear’s alleged murder spree happened, after all, in the same week that protesters marched in response to the release of video that showed Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old black teenager, walking down the middle of a Chicago street, at a slow pace and a solid distance from police, nevertheless getting shot to death by those cops. McDonald was spared so little sympathetic acknowledgment that, as is plain on the video, he lay dying without a single officer approaching him to offer help or comfort. His life, his nature, his very humanity was accorded so little value that it took over a year for his death, by 16 bullets, to be treated as a murder by authorities. Here is what I have read about Laquan McDonald: He had PCP in his system and was carrying a three-inch knife at the time of his killing.

It’s a stark contrast that plays out all around us, the horrifying product of a culture, of a media, and of social, economic, and political structures that teach us to value white men more than any other kind of human beings. White men are our norm; we are told practically from birth, via the books we’re read and the television we watch and the history we learn, that their existence stands in for human existence. White men’s contradictions, priorities, and personalities are sifted, sorted, nudged at, explored, described. They’re the figures that drive our fictions and our facts. We are shown regularly their strengths, their failings, their flaws, their complexities, the full range of their humanity. Other kinds of people may exist around them, as subsidiary characters, but the status of these others is secondary, their internal dimensions compressed and more swiftly caricatured.

To be sure, white men may be charged, tried and convicted; they may be regarded as brutish criminals. But they can be simultaneously understood as human beings, driven by conflicting emotions, able — even in their criminality — to have experienced loss and confusion and anger and love, emotions we do not imaginatively afford America’s poor and black, the men and women who often find their way into our news cycles simply by having the audacity to live in a world that was not built for and around them.

Think that’s an exaggeration? Recall earlier this summer, when Roof, the 21-year-old white man charged with killing nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, was arrested after fleeing the scene. Cops described him at the time of capture as “very quiet, very calm … not problematic.” Roof told the cops he was hungry, so they bought him lunch at Burger King.

Which, I hasten to add, is the humane and correct way to treat a prisoner. But it’s not the way most people who have run-ins with law enforcement are treated.

In the same month that Roof quietly ate his Burger King after killing nine people, 15-year-old Dajerria Becton attended a Texas pool party and got into a fight after some white kids reportedly told a black girl to “go back … to Section 8” housing. When white cop Eric Casebolt arrived on the scene, he slammed Becton to the pavement, grabbing her violently by her braids. Later reports helped us understand that Casebolt had been particularly stressed that day, having already attended to two suicide calls. But Becton, the black teenager, was described by Fox News host Megyn Kelly as “no saint,” for having not obeyed the officer. There was little curiosity about Becton’s experience of having been held roughly by her hair while wearing only a bathing suit, just the pressing question about white-male psychology: What could this one-dimensional black girl have done to make the multidimensional white man react in the way that he did?

It goes on and on: After 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, the New York Times famously asserted that the teenager was “no angel.” After 25-year-old black man Freddie Gray died from spinal injuries after having been arrested, dragged roughly into a van, and driven around the city without a seatbelt by Baltimore police, CNN described him, stunningly, as “the son of an illiterate heroin addict” and “a symbol of the black community’s distrust of the police.” Curiosity about this man extended only to his relationship to things Americans recognize as deviant — illiteracy and addiction — and to his usefulness as a symbol, not as a full human being whose life was lost and mourned by family or friends. When 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot dead by cops while playing with a toy gun, he and his family were regarded as so far from discernibly human that when his 14-year-old sister ran to help him as he bled, cops forced her to the ground, cuffed her, and placed her in a police car.

And these are not, of course, unusual examples. In a 2014 study that has now been cited often, researchers found that police officers were more likely to dehumanize black boys and men, to see them as older and more dangerous than they are, and to confer on white young men a presumption of innocence. These dynamics persist well beyond instances of violence, as we struggle to find the humanity in some kinds of people, while easily dismissing others.

We learned an awful lot about the childhood of white Colorado-movie-theater shooter James Holmes, in part because he was arrested and brought to trial. During that trial, we learned that Holmes, who killed 12 people and injured 70 during a showing of The Dark Knight Rises, called his mother “Goober” and his father “Bobbo” as a child. One (very compelling) Los Angeles Times story about Holmes’s devastated parents evoked their horror at watching the trial of “their awkward little boy turned murderous man.”

This kind of reporting is not bad; it is crucial that we explore the psychological development of human beings who turn violent, as well as those who are felled by and affected by violence. The urge to tell their stories, to try to make sense of their paths is natural.

What’s wrong is our failure to give equal time, energy, emotional and narrative consideration to the experiences of those figures who are not white and male. Why might Dajerria Becton not have listened to the cop? What had her morning been like? Besides being the son of an illiterate heroin addict, who was Freddie Gray? A CNN story attempting to answer that question made sure to note his long rap sheet before getting to a few confirming details about a brother lost to street violence and the lead poisoning he and his siblings suffered as children. It did not address the possibilities that Gray might have felt alienated, adrift, that he might have been gentle, stressed, or hungry.

Race, in combination with class, is especially powerful at removing certain kinds of people from the scope of our empathy and interest, but gender can perform the same trick. Recall the time that the New York Times covered the gang rape of an 11-year-old Texas girl by a group of teenaged boys, and reflected the wonder of residents at how “their young men [could] have been drawn into such an act,” also taking care to quote some neighbors fretting about how the accused boys would “have to live with this for the rest of their lives.” The 11-year-old girl was depicted as having invited these young men to go astray: She wore makeup and dressed older than her age. “Where was her mother?” some local residents wondered about another subsidiary female, whose indirect actions surely also got these boys into trouble.

In the abortion debate, too, women are simply not central to some American estimations of humanity, so much so that feminists have long posed the rhetorical question: Are Women Human? Take Marco Rubio speaking about how “you’ll recognize [a fetus] as a human being” at five months gestation, while not recognizing women who have been raped or experienced incest as human enough to be allowed to access abortion services. At least he hasn’t gone as far as some of his Republican colleagues, who have shown little shame in recent years about comparing women to cows, pigs, and chickens or to caterpillars.

It’s not that white men themselves are always the ones placing higher value on the white-male experience. It’s that all of us — women and people of color and every sort of non-white-male variant — work and read and think and talk within a system that measures worth on a white-male scale. This is how, as of this summer, more than a third of 2015’s top-grossing films had not managed to pass the Bechdel test, which means that they did not include more than two female characters with names, talking to each other about something other than men. It’s actually a pretty low bar for acknowledging humanity in female characters, and more than a third of this year’s hit movies did not clear it.

This is what writer Claire Vaye Watkins was getting at in her recent, widely read essay in the literary magazine Tin House. In it, she writes about writer and Rumpus editor Stephen Elliott, whom she hosted when she was an MFA student. She describes her horror at discovering that after his visit, Elliott had publicly described one of her male peers by his full name, acknowledging his writing, his forthcoming book, his teaching career, and his children, all while referring to Watkins — also a writer, with an agent and book in the works — only by her first name, as a student with “a big, comfortable bed” who had turned down his advances.

As Watkins notes in her essay, “professional sexism via artistic infantalization is a bummer … distinct and apart from those violent expressions of misogyny widely agreed upon as horrific: domestic violence, sex slavery, rape.” But, she went on, “sexist negation, a refusal to acknowledge a female writer as a writer, as a peer, as a person, is of a piece with sexual entitlement … more than of a piece, it is practically a prerequisite … You cannot beat the mother of your children, or rape your childhood friend while she’s unconscious, or walk up to a sorority outside Santa Barbara and start shooting without first convincing yourself and allowing our culture to convince you that those women are less than human.”

This point, made so sharply by Watkins, is a serious argument for why — even in this season of gibbering about over-the-top political correctness — we must acknowledge the real costs of small injuries perpetrated by institutions and pop culture, simply by continuing to put white men at life’s fulcrum. This is why even the stuff that feels worlds away from police violence and abortion-clinic shootings matters. It’s why it matters when a white male actor talks over a successful black female filmmaker, explaining diversity to her. It’s why it matters when a newspaper prints an obituary of a pioneering female rocket scientist that kicks off with the fact that she made a “mean beef stroganoff,” followed her husband, and was a great mom to her son, all before mentioning that she had also “invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites from slipping out of their orbits.”

It matters because it shows us all the ways in which we live in a world made for and shaped around white men. And in aggregate, when the statues are of white men, the buildings and cities and bridges and schools are named after white men, the companies are run by white men and the movie stars are white men and the television shows are about white men and the celebrated authors are white men, the only humanity that is presented as comprehensible — the kind that succeeds and fails, that comprises strength and weakness, that feels love and anger and alienation and fear, that embodies nuance and contradiction, that can be heroic and villainous, abusive and gentle — is the humanity of white men. The repercussions of this kind of thinking? Well, maybe they explain some of what we see on the evening news.

 

By: Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine, December 2, 2015

December 10, 2015 Posted by | Black Men, Law Enforcement, Police Shootings, White Men | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Mum’s The Word From The Professional Bloviators”: Fox Newsers Suddenly Quiet When Their ‘Hero Cop’ Revealed To Be Fraudster

It was a narrative perfectly suited for Fox News’s conservative commentariat. Too bad it was total bullshit.

Three assailants allegedly shot and killed Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, a wholesome small-town cop and Army vet known locally as “GI Joe”; a 30-year veteran of the force; a married father of four; a local hero.

His death had to be part of an ominous trend of societal menaces murdering law officers in cold blood, supposedly fueled by President Obama’s “anti-cop” rhetoric and the Black Lives Matter movement. Several Fox Newsers were quick to make that connection just as Fox Lake, Illinois, police set out to find the three perpetrators Gliniewicz mentioned over the radio just before he died.

While the news of GI Joe’s death broke nationwide on Tuesday, Sept. 1, Fox’s resident quack doctor Keith Ablow sat on the set of the network’s Outnumbered show and lamented how the president has “inflamed racial discord in this country and put a target on the backs of American police officers,” using the recent murder of a Texas deputy at a gas station as a jumping-off point.

“This is not the only incident of this,” conservative firebrand Andrea Tantaros interrupted, teeing up co-host Sandra Smith to introduce the Fox Lake incident. “This is happening time and time again,” Fox & Friends First’s Ainsley Earhardt chimed in. “This is a dangerous place for the country to be,” Liz MacDonald fretted before Tantaros pivoted back to the role of Black Lives Matter rhetoric in cop slayings.

Hours later, primetime star anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke—an all-too-frequent Fox guest who seems to spend more time bashing black activists on TV than actually, you know… sheriffing. Clarke willfully linked Gliniewicz’s death to how President Obama has “breathed life into this anti-cop sentiment” with his “inflammatory rhetoric.”

That same evening, a cocksure Clarke told Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs that he has been to Fox Lake and knows that Gliniewicz is one of the town’s “finest,” gunned down while “engaged in self-initiative policing, the best policing there is.” He added: “War has been declared on the American police officer.” On Twitter, the lawman continued: “Time to take to the streets to counter Black LIES Matter. Fox Lake, Illinois.”

And on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 5, Eric Bolling used his weekly Cashin’ In monologue (titled “Wake Up, America!”) to connect Gliniewicz being “blown away in cold blood” to a “crisis” of law enforcement officers being killed, in part because President Obama has failed to publicly state that “Blue Lives Matter.”

Flash-forward to this Wednesday when Fox Lake police officials revealed that Gliniewicz’s death was actually a “carefully staged suicide.” As it turns out, the longtime lieutenant had been laundering thousands of dollars from his department’s youth program for his own personal spending on gym memberships, porn websites, and mortgage payments. There were no assailants; GI Joe shot himself rather than face the consequences.

Have any of these Fox pundits corrected the record or issued mea culpas for their rush to connect this twisted story to their political narrative? Wednesday’s edition of Outnumbered, with Tantaros among its hosts, went without a single mention of the news their own network aired just an hour before. (The show did, however, spend an entire segment bashing film director Quentin Tarantino for his remarks against police brutality.)

As for Sheriff Clarke, he spent all day Wednesday tweeting not about “best policing” Gliniewicz’s complete betrayal of his peers, but instead about, yep, “cop-hating” “prick” Quentin Tarantino.

And Eric Bolling? His daily talk show The Five—which frequently gripes about Black Lives Matter—made no mention of Gliniewicz. Don’t hold your breath for a correct-the-record monologue from him this Saturday either.

Of course, it should be noted that Fox’s straight-news reporters—namely Mike Tobin, Shepard Smith, Happening Now, and the network’s cut-in anchors—reported the story, from the start, as a continuing investigation, without tying it to racial tensions or anti-police violence. The way it should be done.

And when they reported the story’s bizarre developments on Wednesday morning, they did so with entirely straight language. But mum’s the word from the professional bloviators.

 

By: Andrew Kirell, The Daily Beast, November 5, 2015

November 7, 2015 Posted by | Black Lives Matter, Fox News, Law Enforcement | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“This Is Why The Gun Nuts Win”: An Oregon Sheriff’s Nutty Conspiracy Theories Explains The GOP’s Impotence

Mass shootings and gun-crazed conspiracy theorists: Our country is swimming in an abundance of both, so it was just a matter of time before the two collided, not on the shooter side of the equation but on the law enforcement side.

John Hanlin, the sheriff of Douglas County who has been in charge of the police response and investigation of Thursday’s shooting at Umpqua Community College, has fallen under media scrutiny because he’s left an eyebrow-raising trail of gun nuttery that shades into conspiracy theorist territory. His past behavior calls into question not just his own office’s ability to handle this case responsibly, but tells us a lot about why it’s so hard to even begin to have a reasonable conversation about guns in this country, much less move towards sensible policies to reduce gun violence.

Conservatives aren’t lying when they say they need guns to feel protected. But it’s increasingly clear that they aren’t seeking protection from crime or even from the mythical jackbooted government goons come to kick in your door. No, the real threat is existential. Guns are a totemic shield against the fear that they are losing dominance as the country becomes more liberal and diverse and, well, modern. For liberals, the discussion about guns is about public health and crime prevention. For conservatives, hanging onto guns is a way to symbolically hang onto the cultural dominance they feel slipping from their hands.

This comes across clearly in the letter that Hanlin wrote to Vice President Joe Biden in 2013 where he asked that the administration “NOT tamper with or attempt to amend the 2nd Amendment” and where he threatened ominously, “any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the president offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Douglas County Oregon.”

Despite all the attempts at formal, legalistic language, Hanlin is clearly writing more in a mythical vein than he is actually addressing any real world policy concerns. His absolutist language about the 2nd amendment ignores the fact that there are already federal and state regulations on guns and who can buy them. More disturbingly, his posturing about open rebellion against the federal government evokes the conspiracy theory-mindset of the hard right, the kind of paranoid hysteria about federal power that led to so much violence during the Clinton administration, from shootouts at Waco and Ruby Ridge to the federal building bombing in Oklahoma City. This is not a letter from someone soberly assessing the pros and cons of proposed regulations on firearms. This is the letter of someone wrapped up in childish fantasies of revolution.

In case there is any doubt about this, Hanlin also, at the same time, used his personal Facebook page to promote the conspiracy theory that the Sandy Hook shooting was a “false flag” operation meant to give cover to the federal government gun grab that right wingers have been warning us for decades is coming any day now.

It’s not just Hanlin. Guns are generally talked about in right-wing circles in these mythical terms. And because a gun isn’t just a gun to conservatives, but a symbol of all they hold dear, having a reasonable conversation about gun control has become impossible. To liberals, it’s about keeping guns out of the hands of people who misuse them. But to conservatives, it’s clearly about stripping away their very sense of identity, which is naturally going to be a touchier subject.

That’s why Republican politicians would rather say the dumbest, most offensive things possible after a mass shooting than even entertain the possibility that guns might need a teeny bit more regulation. Jeb Bush is getting a lot of grief for saying, in the wake of this latest shooting, that “stuff happens, there’s always a crisis,” but there’s not much else he could say without running the risk of losing the primary. To dare suggest that guns, which have become this precious symbol of conservative identity, could be anything but pure and good and wholesome is just bad politics for a Republican. You might as well wipe your shoes with the American flag in their eyes.

This is also why Mike Huckabee went with the baldly ridiculous route of saying, ““Seven hundred people a year get killed because somebody beats them up with their fist,” as if that’s comparable to the 11,000 people who are murdered by guns a year. The point of this rhetoric is to distract from the fact that guns were invented for the sole purpose of killing. Instead, Huckabee is invoking the framework where  the gun is actually a symbol of all that conservatives hold dear instead of what they really are, which is weapons that have no use outside of being weapons.

Squaring the emotional attachment to firearms with the real world fact that guns are weapons that kill innocent people causes too much cognitive dissonance, and so the pleasant fantasy is chosen over the hard reality. For gun victims, however, there is no fantasy, but just the gruesome fact that guns are weapons that can deal death with a minimum amount of effort from aspiring murderers.

 

By: Amanda Marcotte, Salon, October 5, 2015

October 7, 2015 Posted by | Gun Control, Gun Violence, Law Enforcement | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“We Need Cops With People Skills”: Police Authority Presupposes Legitimacy And Trust

What can I do?

Not quite six months ago, a reader named Tracy posed that question to me and I, in turn, posed it to you. Tracy, a 55-year-old white woman from Austin, said she was sick of hearing about unarmed African-American men being injured or killed by police. “What can be done?” she asked. “What can I do? I’m sincere in this question. I want to DO something. What can that be?”

Well, Bob has some ideas. In an email, he describes himself as a “retired professional firefighter from a metropolitan area” whose 20 years as a paramedic often required him to work closely with police.

“I witnessed many cases of police brutality,” he writes. “A stressed patient or family member would call 911 for medical assistance. We would respond as well as the PD. A situation that required a calm and caring presence and an ambulance ride to a care center or psych ward would end up in a physical altercation with mace and cuffs.”

Bob says he and his partner would talk about what they had seen on the way back to the station, “but knew better than to alert our superiors or file complaints because we did not dare open a rift with the local PD. We (and paramedics on other shifts) needed PD backup on potentially dangerous calls. So we all kept quiet.”

Based on that experience, Bob has two suggestions. One is that we should push for more thorough screening of police applicants. “We need cops to DEFUSE situations,” he writes, “not escalate. We need cops with people skills. No more bullies. Very intense psych examinations should be part of police applicant training.”

Bob’s other suggestion? Require that non-sworn civilians be part of any investigation of police brutality. Just as you would never assign a 7-year-old to solve the mystery of the broken cookie jar, he thinks it makes little sense to ask police to investigate their own.

“Do we really think cops will give an unbiased and honest effort when investigating other cops? NO! It is always the same old game. Make the investigation last for months until it is back-page news. Discount or do not document damaging statements. Intimidate convincing witnesses. Conveniently forget to note damaging facts. When all else fails, lie or plant evidence to close cases.”

From where I sit, both of Bob’s suggestions have merit, but as we approach the first anniversary of the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice with no one yet held accountable, his second carries particular resonance. Even granting the need for thoroughness, it strains credulity to believe it takes the better part of a year — and counting — to decide whether to prosecute Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann, especially given the surveillance video that shows Loehmann shooting the boy, who had been holding a realistic-looking toy gun, within two seconds after the patrol car skids to a stop in front of him.

Would the decision on prosecution proceed at such a leisurely pace had it been Loehmann who was shot? Would the prosecutor be agonizing like Hamlet almost a year later?

You know the answer as well as I do.

The impulse to cut cops some slack — “Hey, he was only doing his job” — is understandable. It is also wrong and, more to the point, shortsighted.

One of the most important weapons in a cop’s arsenal is his authority. But authority presupposes legitimacy and trust. How much of either can a police officer — or a police force or the institution of policing itself — command when they operate under such a blatantly different set of rules? A requirement that outside eyes be involved in investigations of serious allegations of police misconduct would go a long way toward rectifying that.

At the very least, it’s a conversation we are long overdue to have.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist for The Miami Herald; The National Memo, October 5, 2015

October 6, 2015 Posted by | Law Enforcement, Police Abuse, Police Brutality | , , , , , | 1 Comment

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