Sunday, August 17, 2014

Does Police Deadly Force Justify Looting?

Excessive force by law enforcement is becoming an all too common occurrence, and it's not okay. In some cases innocent people, mostly black, are being killed.

Eric Garner, the 43-year-old asthmatic New York man allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes, dies while being held in a choke-hold by police, in spite of the fact that choke-holds have been banned since 1993 by the NYPD.  He's crying I can't breathe and no-one does a thing. Yes, selling black-market cigarettes is illegal, but witnesses claim he was not selling them at the time, and he had just broken up a fight.

22-year-old John Crawford III, was killed in an Ohio Walmart, for allegedly brandishing an air rifle that Walmart happens to sell, after witnesses (a former marine and his wife) called 911. No-one else seemed to find Crawford worrisome that day except for Ronald and April Ritchie (broken ankle and all), who were so fearful they followed Crawford around for a while, before calling police.  When police arrived, Crawford was on the phone talking to the mother of his children, holding the cell phone in one hand and the rifle in the other. Police told him to drop "the weapon", Crawford (who had no criminal record) told them it wasn't real, and within a split second he was shot dead.

Both of the above were black, and not much of a peep out of people.  Then, black teen Michael Brown is killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a predominately black town where most of the police are white. Since the stories differ between what the police claim happened, and what Brown's buddy Dorian Johnson says occurred, I will reserve judgment, but unlike Crawford who had no criminal record, it appears Brown had been involved that same day in a strong-arm robbery of a box of cigars. The 18-year-old was no innocent, but did he deserve to die, no way.  If there was a struggle for the officer's gun in the patrol car, as authorities have intimated, the policeman might have feared for his life. But again, we don't know for sure what transpired that night, and we probably never will, since there was no dashcam in the patrol car. Do people have the right to protest, yes. Peacefully. Do they have the right to loot? No. What does looting some poor shop owner's store accomplish? Just making you look bad, is all.

In some cases victims have been subjected to police violence even though they have complied with the cop's demands. Other times, they've resisted arrest or have not followed orders and it too ends badly. I blame that on the victim. However, with the increase in random violence these days, I can understand why police are fearful, but in most cases there is no need for excessive force, Crawford's case in point. Why was deadly force necessary? There have to be alternatives.

Bob Parks from Black and Right, posted this Chris Rock video from many moons ago, on How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police.  This should be mandatory viewing for all kids in school, maybe there would be fewer incidents of excessive and deadly force.

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