Do We Just Wish They Were? (2016Sep25)


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Saturday, September 24, 2016                                          9:28 PM

I had hoped the Charlotte NC authorities would release the videos of the killing of Keith Lamont Scott—and they have, but not all of it. And, when you think about it, given what we’ve already seen—what could Keith Lamont Scott have done in so short a time as to cause a trained policeman to gun him down?

The reluctance of authorities to be transparent is just a knee-jerk reaction—this was not a ‘good’ shoot. That much seems clear. An innocent man was killed. No one wants to admit that, but maybe they should. What happened was bad enough—I don’t see any profit in playing cute with evidence.

The police claim that he was rolling a joint with a gun by his side—his family says he had TBI, didn’t own a gun, and was reading a book. The police have produced an ankle holster and a pistol, and claim it has Mr. Scott’s DNA on it—I’d be a lot more open to that if an ankle holster wasn’t so popular with the police, and if they had said his fingerprints were on it—after you shoot a man, his DNA is all over the place (with apologies to the Scott family for saying so).

I’ve heard a butt-load of talk—on and on they drone, saying everything as circumspectly as a thing can be said, casting doubts in every direction, hoping to divert focus from this being, in simple terms, a crime committed by a police officer. It makes me tired.

Can’t we just, for once, go straight to the part where North Carolina institutes improved police training and extensive community outreach—and makes this sort of thing a relic of our past? Do we have to pretend that this serious problem doesn’t exist—and go through all the bullshit back-and-forth? Really? It’s 2016, folks. Tic – toc, dammit.

There is something so sickly stubborn about the South’s veneration for the Confederacy—it imparts an element of pride to their ignorant racism and the persecution of their fellow citizens. The North Carolinians have been caught twice this year—once, specifically targeting minorities with new voter-restriction laws that, fortunately, were thrown out by the Supreme Court; and two, this public, almost farcical, obstruction of justice, to shield the police from their own misconduct.

And don’t tell me the officer who fired was black—the police are a culture unto themselves—that’s why we have these situations, where the opacity of the process is guaranteed by the police’s interdependency and necessary loyalty to each other. Retraining is needed to change the police culture—to make these hitherto winked-at shootings a thing of shame, instead of a rallying cry for police solidarity. The good police need to be given the tools that allow them to call out bad actors, without becoming traitors to their team.

Policing is difficult work—part hero, part helper, part target, part social worker, and on and on—its outlines stretch in almost every direction. And the power that comes with it can, apparently, be quite seductive—and easily twisted into something frightening. We have intensive training for doctors and lawyers—it is time to recognize that a proper police officer, man or woman, requires a host of skills and therefore involves training that goes far beyond learning how to hit what they shoot at.

There are police in many countries where the civilians fear their approach, because the police force can be used as a tool of suppression and intimidation. They are not police in the developed world’s sense of the word—and their hallmark is unwarranted, unthinking violence. The police training in many European countries puts America’s to shame—they are serious about civilization in the way that some Americans are serious about ‘law and order’ (a code-word for fascism if ever there was one). We compete in so many arenas—Americans love to compete. Why do we not feel a need to be the best in policing, or in community? Are these things so unimportant? Or do we just wish they were?

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