Violence: Riots, Crime, and Police
The six officers involved in arresting Freddie Gray have been arrested and charged with crimes ranging from misconduct to murder.
As we continue to manufacture a case of racism in the death of every black male to hit the news, we propagate the myth that black lives don’t matter to a younger generation, we provide them with excuses for failure, a scapegoat for their frustration, and perpetuate a cycle of long term dependence. Further, we reinforce a manufactured mistrust of the government. The incarceration rate of black men in America is astonishingly high, but blaming racism takes the personal accountability out of the equation.
A young black man has no ability to control whether or not I am a racist, but he absolutely has control of his behavior. We cannot continue to blame a lack of opportunity, racism, or lack of education for criminal behavior. We need to focus on the behavior of both the suspects and the police in these events.
I read a recent article in which the writer was critical of the president for use of the term “thug” in his description of events in Baltimore. She claimed that thug was “the new N word”. I am not sure where the writer has received her definition but thug is quite consistently defined as follows:
“Thug: a cruel or vicious ruffian, robber, or murderer.”
I would say there is stark contrast between the definition of a violent criminal and a derogatory term for blacks. Further, I am not sure what term would apply more aptly then ‘thug’ to the looters, rioters and arsonists in Baltimore. I for one find it a pretty accurate description of some of the individuals involved in the “protests” of the treatment of Freddie Gray. In this case, I felt the presidents’ statements regarding the rioters were reasonable considering the circumstances, and thug an apt description of the participants.
Even a sitting black president who has largely spearheaded the effort to make every black arrest a racial issue is now failing to support the cause because he identified misbehavior on the part of some of the protesters; this has truly entered the realm of delusion. The consistent focus on race vice behavior is becoming a dangerous and counter-productive undercurrent in our society.
The article then went on to defend Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and lump them in the same category as Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, and Walter Scott. The one thing these men had in common was that they are dead and black. Aside from that, there is nearly nothing uniform in these cases – and yet the race factor is adequate to cause the media and much of America to ignore nearly all other factors.
Trayvon Martin was looking in peoples windows in a neighborhood in which he did not live or have any reason to be, and assaulted a man who confronted him about it. According to the story the jury believed he started slamming his head into the concrete. Thug seems an appropriate description of Trayvon Martin. The number of times I have looked in peoples houses while wandering through neighborhoods I do not live in – Zero. Additionally, the Martin case has nothing to do with police.
Michael Brown was shot for attacking a police officer after failing to follow commands after assaulting the very same officer. The day prior he had robbed a grocery store and assaulted the store clerk on video. Thug again seems a very appropriate description. The number of times I have beaten a grocery store clerk, stolen from a grocery store, failed to follow police commands, and assaulted a police officer – Zero.
Eric Garner died while being arrested for selling loose cigarettes. Thug would be an inappropriate description of Eric Garner as this behavior hardly measures up to the definition of a violent criminal. There was clearly enough evidence on the video to prompt an investigation, which occurred – and the grand jury decided not to indite the officers involved. Resisting arrest led to physical contact in which the officer followed police procedures. The number of times I have sold “loose” cigarettes and resisted arrest – Zero. The ongoing evaluation of police procedures is a great place to start looking for real places to solve problems.
Walter Scott was shot in the back, after running from a police officer over parking tickets. He may have even knocked a tazer from the officer’s hand. He was pretty far from the definition of a violent criminal, and at the point he was running away, he posed little threat to the officer. It will be an up hill battle for that officer to convince a jury that Mr. Scott was a threat to public safety, but he will have that opportunity in court when he defends himself against the charge of Murder. The number of times I have run from a police officer, and knocked a taser out of his hand – Zero.
Freddie Gray ran from police, for no apparent reason, and was detained for possession of an “illegal” knife… He died in police custody from a broken neck. Far short of the violent criminals represented by Martin and Brown, more in line with the general low level misbehavior exhibited by Scott and Garner. The six officers involved have been charged and the investigation is continuing. Once again, I have yet to run from a police officer…
Aside from being black men who were killed by white men, the behavior in all of these cases have almost nothing in common. Two of the five men are violent criminals, two ran from police, and one resisted arrest. Some how what we have focused on at the direction of the Department of Justice is the potential for racism instead of the potential crime committed by the individuals and the officers involved on both sides of the equation.
These men were not targeted for arrest for being black on a sunny day. While that may occur, that was not what occurred in these cases. They were detained because they were suspected of a crime… I for one am tired of glorifying the ignorance displayed by the “protesters” as some sort of a civil rights issue. If you are upset about racism, then protest a case of racism, because these ALL seem to be police doing what we pay them to do, identifiing potential criminals and detaining them, and then potentially using excessive force in the process. The excessive force is the issue on the police side of the equation.
The easy answer is stomp your feet, pick up a sign, and complain about the scapegoat (Racist police officers). The hard answer is to look at the real social issues (Crime, Culture, Economic opportunity, Education) and attempt to do something productive about the underlying causes. Since that does not make for a simple, easy-to-publicize story, they rarely make the news. That is the issue we are facing: a growing portion of the American population that is welfare dependent, under educated to compete in a service based economy, and lacking economic opportunity to maintain a basic level of existence on their own.
Police body cameras seem to the flavor of the month. It will certainly change behavior on both sides of the equation and is probably a prudent step for cities and counties to take if for no other reason then to reduce liability risk. What it will not address is the social issues underlying the problem. Racism, body cameras, and politics are a distraction that is occupying far too much of our collective time and effort.