Across the United States, more than 800,000 people serve as local and state law enforcement officials (LEO). These LEOs are charged with upholding and enforcing the law, maintaining order, and providing general services. To carry out these duties, police officers possess certain powers, granted by the state. If the situation calls for it, police officers can frisk, detain, and arrest civilians, as well as seize property. In addition, depending upon the situation, police officers are empowered to use force to defend themselves or civilians (the amount of force extends along a spectrum from police presence through deadly force). Given the powers that police officers have, it is incumbent upon them to maintain a level of professionalism in the course of their duties and to wield their powers responsibly and ethically. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of cops engaging in a range of irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activities from bribery and unjustified arrests to illegal search and seizure and the use of excessive force. Here are five such examples:
Civil unrest has once more broken out in a USAmerican city; this time in Milwaukee, following the execution by police of a 23-year-old armed suspect (who apparently committed the heinous, only-recourse-is-lethal-force crime of fleeing from cops after a traffic stop).
A gas station and an auto-parts store were set on fire.
Bricks were hurled at law enforcement officers (resulting in the injury of one officer).
Police have apparently said that shots were fired (it should be point out that currently, the only firearm-related casualty has been the execution of the suspect at the hands of the police).
As I’ve seen several times when civil unrest engulfs a city in the wake of state sanctioned brutality or extrajudicial execution by cop, it is inevitable that some people will criticize the actions of those involved in the unrest (curiously, these people never aim their criticism at the actions of police that precipitate such events; it’s almost like they don’t take issue with the behavior of law enforcement officials).
Content Note: Racial slurs
I really need more hours in the day, days in the week, and weeks in the year. I am a wee bit behind on reading my ‘saved links’ on Facebook. The sidebar says I currently have 11 saved links, but I think that number might be a wee bit higher.
::goes off to check::
Oooooooooh yeah. Way more than 11. That figure reflects what I’ve saved today and *part* of last week. I just scrolled down and I have at least 84 saved links to be read. I say at least bc I got to the bottom of the page and FB did that loading bit where it says ‘please wait while we load the five gajillion links you have saved and if you read these darn things in a timely manner, it might not take so long to load them all‘ (it really says that on my page; wanna buy a bridge in Brooklyn or some swampland in Florida?).
Amid all those links are a host of articles that I have thoughts and opinions about. In more than a few cases, the content of those articles elicits strong opinions from me (and I’ve shared some brief thoughts about them on FB). Other pieces are logged away in a mental “to write about” file that is so huge it almost eclipses Donald Trump’s ego. While I was going through the links, one really stood out to me-a clip from the May 5 episode of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert featuring guest W. Kamau Bell:
She was a passionate suffragist.
She created a nursing home for African-Americans.
At one point, the reward for her capture reached $40,000.
She earned $20/month in pension following the end of the Civil War.
She was often behind enemy lines, operating as a scout for the Union.
She is credited with aiding in the liberation of over 3,000 enslaved Africans.
She was an ardent anti-slavery advocate who dedicated her life to the abolition of the “peculiar institution”.
And she’ll be the first woman to be featured on a United States banknote in more than a century.
If you guessed Harriet Tubman, then you win $20!
Yesterday I discussed how much I want to take a certain phrase out back, put a stake through its heart, chop its head off, and burn the body. Today I’m going to share another one that irritates the holy heck out of me. This time though, I’ll skip the guessing game and get down to it.
I hate reading or hearing “I don’t see race”
On the one year anniversary of the execution of Michael Brown, Jr. an article at CNN takes a look at the views of several residents of Ferguson, Missouri. The perspectives on display are intriguing, and I think the article is worth reading just to get inside the heads of Ferguson residents. But one of those residents was a police officer who said she “doesn’t see race”:
In the last year I’ve been thinking a lot about the criminal justice system in the United States. I’ve been thinking how unfair it is to People of Color-especially black people. In the wake of Michael Brown, Jr’s death at the hands of ex-police officer Darren Wilson, I found my reality turned upside down. The world that I knew-a world where law enforcement officials were good, honest, and treated all citizens with fairness and equality-that world quickly began crumbling. As I read more about Michael Brown, Jr. and the circumstances surrounding his death, I found myself despairing. The whole situation seemed unjust. It looked like the deck was stacked against him. And then I saw the support pour in for Darren Wilson. I saw the money people were raising in his name. I saw the supportive comments from cops. I saw the racist commentary from civilians in the comments sections of news articles. And I felt my anger rise. I thought “How is this right? This cop killed Michael Brown, Jr. He judged this young man to be guilty and he gave him the death penalty.” Brown was never given access to due process (but Wilson was). If I thought my frustration at Brown’s death was bad, I would soon discover that was only the tip of the iceberg.
I’m growing increasingly frustrated by the historical ignorance on the part of many Southerners. In the wake of the June 17 act of racial terrorism that took the lives of 9 African-American churchgoers in Charleston, SC, a debate has reignited over the Confederate flag (which has flown over the South Carolina state capitol since 2000). On one side of the debate are those who argue that the flag represents white supremacy, slavery, and treason. On the other side are those who think the flag is a symbol of Southern heritage and freedom from tyranny. The supporters of the flag are attempting to revise history with proclamations such as “The Civil War was fought over states’ rights”, “The Confederate flag represents bravery, valor, and heroism”, and “The Civil War wasn’t just fought over slavery”. The only proper response to the previous claims are (IMO) “no, it wasn’t”, “no the fuck it doesn’t”, and “hell yes it was”. While I’m sure that many people are genuinely ignorant of the causes of the Civil War and the symbolism of the Confederate flag (owing to deliberate attempts to paint the Southern states in a positive light in the wake of the Civil War), I have no doubt that many other people know full well what they argue for. Whatever the case may be, it disgusts me that whether intentional or not, people are defending the indefensible. To understand the reasons why supporters of the Confederate flag are deeply wrong, a little history lesson is in order. The following is a broad overview of the causes behind the Civil War.
Last week, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof drove two hours from his home in Columbia, South Carolina to Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. After being welcomed in with open arms by the African-American churchgoers, Roof sat. And sat. And sat. A little over an hour after he arrived, he jumped back into his car and sped away, leaving behind the bodies of 9 people he shot to death in a horrific act of racial terrorism that has justifiably outraged the nation. Thanks to a perceptive florist, the 14+ hour manhunt for the killer ended in Shelby, North Carolina, more than 245 miles from Charleston. Following his arrest, he has been charged with 9 counts of murder and possession of a firearm. His bond is set at $1 million. The shock and bewilderment felt by many USAmericans upon first hearing of his deadly crime largely centered around “why would someone do this”. The answer to that was made apparent less than 24 hours after his shooting rampage:
Continue reading “The legacy of the Confederacy lives on in white supremacists like Dylann Roof”