Saturday, March 31, 2012

Trayvon, You Ain't Alone, and What Can Be Done about It

Some 200 protesters angered by a Chicago police officer's fatal shooting of a 22-year-old woman last week rallied Tuesday outside the officer's home, calling for justice for a woman police admit was an innocent bystander.

Okay, just quickly cause I'm watching BookTV on C-SPAN2 as I write this - being from Jesse Helms's hometown or just his home state is nothing to be proud of. You can be proud Tarheel born and bred. That's a very different matter from being a proud "Jesse Helms's home-stater." My condolences to his family notwithstanding.  It's a matter of emphasis.

Now, to my point, Rekia Boyd, the aforementioned 22-year-old. A police officer fired at Antonio Cross who was allegedly approaching him with a gun, striking Cross in the hand and Boyd in the head. The police ruled the shooting justified. See what's wrong with this picture? . . . No? Let me help you. Setting aside the question of whether or not Cross was armed with anything aside from his cell phone; setting aside whatever the officer may have said the day before; isn't there some sort of protocol against shooting into a crowd?

What to do about this in the bigger picture, I don't know. Just a few days after the Boyd killing, and in the same Lawndale neighborhood, another man was shot and killed by police. Police say he pulled a gun from his waistband, subsequently there was a struggle over the gun during which the man was shot. Cut and dry, right? Wrong. No weapon has been recovered from the scene.

Here's what makes the "bigger picture" a little murky: just the prior week, another man in Chicago, albeit in a different part of Chicago, really did point a sawed-off shot gun at police.

So what are police to do?

First, emphasis on police. And that for two reasons. One being rather obvious in light of the month's events in Florida: this does not apply to member of any neighborhood watch. Reason #2 being that you can't hold an entire group of people responsible for the actions of a few. Yes, someone pointed a gun at you on Monday. Take time off if you must. Cause the next time, it could be just a can of iced tea. Or a hairbrush. And to argue that you shouldn't be held accountable, that the community in question should change their norms, is the direct opposite of personal and individual responsibility. Not just that you're accountable for your own actions, but also that an entire community can't be accountable for the actions of two people. After all, if that were the case, you'd be out of a job, Mr/s. Police Officer.

Back to my thoughts on what police can do to stop shooting unarmed people, secondly, if the idea of being shot on the job is too much for you, don't join the police. Don't get me wrong. My heart goes out to the family and friends of officers killed in the line of duty. But that's a separate issue. People die everyday, and a cops death is no more painful to his/her family and friends than anyone else's. My point is that if you can't handle that risk, don't join the force. It's really that simple as far as I'm concerned. Take for example my mother. No, she's not a policewoman, but I'm addressing the issue of forethought in one career path and family planning. See, knowing that she wanted to be heavily involved in church work and civic service, she and my father made the decision to have just two kids. After I was born, my mom had her tubes tide. (Gosh! Who knows what all kinds of things they did in the sexual realm that runs counter to how things are "supposed" to be!) So from where I stand, not becoming a police officer because you don't wanna risk being shot is just plain ole good common sense.

If you do join, understand that you have an obligation to risk your life by taking that extra split second to clearly identify a gun. That's called protecting. Everything shiny ain't a gun. And if it is a gun, what if the suspect is planning to drop the weapon? I don't think it's too much to ask of police officers to be sure not only that this person your gun is aimed at is armed, but also that they're dangerous. I mean, what if they raise their arms above their head and in doing so, a weapon is displayed from their waistband - are you going to shoot then, too?

If you're unwilling or unable to take the extra split second to clearly identify a gun, don't join the police. There're other ways to serve your community, even in terms of law enforcement. For example, you could join the crime scene unit, become a lab tech. Or go to law school and join the prosecutor's office. You don't have to join the police. If you're unwilling to risk your life in order to protect others, and that from even yourself, don't join the police!

And you know what? Don't join neighborhood watch, either.

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This isn't too complicated. If you disagree with me, I'm more than happy to have an honest discussion. I'm quite open to learning new facts and ideas. I'm dying for a conservative to explain their ideas in a sensible way.

But, I do have rules, and they also apply to those who agree with me. They just get the benefit of my already knowing the fact they'll be referring to.

So, here're the comment thread rules:

1 - Use facts.
2 - Refer to policy.
3 - Don't rely on theories and conjectures. Show me how, for example, a public health insurance option will lead to "rationing" of health care.
4 - No unfounded attacks on any entity.

If you break those rules, I will edit your comment to my own whimsical satisfaction.

Lastly, perhaps most importantly, I'm not going to entertain too much pro-white/racism-denying discussion. I want this to be a space to discuss strategies to fight racism, not space where I have to fight racism. I want anti-racists to be able to come here for a mental respite. If what you're interested in doing is attempting to demonstrate the fallacy of anti-racism by repeating the same ole comments and questions and accusations we hear all the time, please do that somewhere else.

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