My View: The Counter-Narrative in Police Shootings

It has been pretty interesting to me to watch the give and take on the police killing articles, first with Michael Brown and now Eric Garner. The pushback is fairly predictable – one of my favorites is essentially why these particular killings are gaining protests and attention when countless others are ignored by the media and the public.

I think we would have to delve way too deeply into the “viral” phenomena to fully understand why some events capture everyone’s attention and others don’t. There are plenty of police-involved killings that do not capture much attention – even when it’s a former white police chief who killed an unarmed black man he was trying to arrest.

Still, I think part of what spawns attention in Ferguson and Staten Island, and before that on a BART train and Oscar Grant, is the fact that the police officers were operating under the color of authority and one of the most vital factors in safeguards to liberty is creating a police force that operates under our laws – and that, when they cross over from law enforcers to law breakers, they are held accountable.

The vital trust between police and community is strained if not broken when these incidents occur. There is a racial component here too – and many do not want to see it and probably want to eliminate the term racism from our lexicon – but many of these encounters occur between the police and people of color, and that serves to undermine trust between those communities and their police.

This is the point I raised in the skepticism that Al Sharpton showed twenty years ago and the skepticism many in the black community have to the Ferguson grand jury findings.

But the counter-narrative goes beyond that. At our November 15 event on a different kind of misconduct with the same basic result, prosecutorial misconduct – where prosecutors are rarely held accountable for their actions, keynote speaker Scott Sanders noted that you want to have a completely innocent defendant in these critical cases. But in his case, his client clearly committed mass murder, and that makes it difficult to raise troubling issues about official misconduct.

It is here that Charles Blow’s December 3, New York Times column really hits home. He notes that neither Ferguson nor Staten Island are the “perfect case” because neither are “a perfect victim and the protesters haven’t all been perfectly civil, so therefore any movement to counter black oppression that flows from the case is inherently flawed.”

Instead, we see a counter-narrative taking shape, which paints “the police as under siege and unfairly maligned while it admonishes — and, in some cases, excoriates — those demanding changes in the wake of the Ferguson shooting.”

He writes, “This is ridiculous and reductive, because it fails to acknowledge that the whole system is imperfect and rife with flaws. We don’t need to identify angels and demons to understand that inequity is hell.”

This is about racial inequality and criminal justice. Mr. Blow writes, “People want to be assured of equal application of justice and equal — and appropriate — use of police force, and to know that all lives are equally valued.”

He argues, however, “The data suggests that, in the nation as a whole, that isn’t so. Racial profiling is real. Disparate treatment of black and brown men by police officers is real. Grotesquely disproportionate numbers of killings of black men by the police are real.”

Charles Blow raises a string of concerns from the fact that police officers have hard jobs to the fact that “high-crime neighborhoods disproportionately overlap with minority neighborhoods.”

But he then attacks this point that we often see made by those involved in the counter-narrative: “Yet people continue to make such arguments, which can usually be distilled to some variation of this: Black dysfunction is mostly or even solely the result of black pathology. This argument is racist at its core because it rests too heavily on choice and too lightly on context.”

Then we come to the core here – the reason I have dissembled to this point. He writes, “Racist is the word that we must use.”

He adds, “Racism doesn’t require the presence of malice, only the presence of bias and ignorance, willful or otherwise. It doesn’t even require more than one race.”

He goes further, “Today, too many people are gun-shy about using the word racism, lest they themselves be called race-baiters. So we are witnessing an assault on the concept of racism, an attempt to erase legitimate discussion and grievance by degrading the language: Eliminate the word and you elude the charge.”

Mr. Charles writes, “By endlessly claiming that the word is overused as an attack, the overuse, through rhetorical sleight of hand, is amplified in the dismissal. The word is snatched from its serious scientific and sociological context and redefined simply as a weapon of argumentation, the hand grenade you toss under the table to blow things up and halt the conversation when things get too ‘honest’ or ‘uncomfortable.’”

He counters, “But people will not fall for that chicanery. The language will survive. The concept will not be corrupted. Racism is a real thing, not because the ‘racial grievance industry’ refuses to release it, but because society has failed to eradicate it. Racism is interpersonal and structural; it is current and historical; it is explicit and implicit; it is articulated and silent.”

“Biases are pervasive, but can also be spectral: moving in and out of consideration with little or no notice, without leaving a trace, even without our own awareness. Sometimes the only way to see bias is in the aggregate, to stop staring so hard at a data point and step back so that you can see the data set. Only then can you detect the trails in the dust. Only then can the data do battle with denial,” he continues.

“I would love to live in a world where that wasn’t the case. Even more, I would love my children to inherit a world where that wasn’t the case, where the margin for error for them was the same as the margin for error for everyone else’s children, where I could rest assured that police treatment would be unbiased. But I don’t. Reality doesn’t bend under the weight of wishes. Truth doesn’t grow dim because we squint,” he adds. “We must acknowledge — with eyes and minds wide open — the world as it is if we want to change it.”

He concludes, “The activism that followed Ferguson and that is likely to be intensified by what happened in New York isn’t about making a martyr of ‘Big Mike’ or ‘Big E’ as much as it is about making the most of a moment, counternarratives notwithstanding. In this most trying of moments, black men, supported by the people who understand their plight and feel their pain, are saying to the police culture of America, ‘We can’t breathe!’”

If everyone who reads this post could pledge just $10 per month, we would meet all financial goals for 2015 and the Vanguard would be fully fiscally viable

I hope people are still reading because now I’m going interject my viewpoint into this discussion.

We have a problem in our lexicon because what has essentially happened is that some time since the mid-1960s when we passed the Civil Rights Act, 1968 and 1972 when Richard Nixon engaged in the Southern Strategy, and now, the term racism as we used to know it changed.

There are still people – we call them white supremacists – who hold onto the belief that whites are genetically superior to blacks, but by and large those are small numbers and socially ostracized into extremist camps.

So if we’re using racism, the term used in the 1950s and 1960s for people who opposed de-segregation efforts and believed it was immoral to mix the races and that blacks were inferior, to describe the actions of police officers and some engaging in the counter-narrative, we run into problems and obstacles.

Social science researchers, beginning as early as the 1970s and 1980s, recognized the changing landscape of race and began to form the hypothesis of “symbolic racism” – the problem I have with that frame of literature is that the argument is that much of this is subconscious and that it manifests itself as more extreme forms of social conservatism.

This gets into the issue of victimization or, as Mr. Blow puts it, “Black dysfunction is mostly or even solely the result of black pathology.” While he argues this is racism and ignores historical context, I think it is a mistake to place this into a word as broadly used as “racism.”

This gets us to the debate as to whether the Garner incident had a racial component. I think it is indefensible to argue that it did not. This gets to the idea of subconscious bias and the more arcane “symbolic racism.”

The bottom line is that racial stereotypes present in society lead most people to react fundamentally differently to a large black man walking down a street than to a large white man walking down the street.

But that’s only half of the factor here. The other half of the equation is the interaction between law enforcement and citizen. Because of the trust factor, the way that African-Americans respond to police officers is going to be different than the way white people will respond in the same situation. And that interaction with an untrained and inexperienced officer – and it’s instructive that in both cases the officer involved was under 30 – can be fatal.

It is of course easy to say that, out of context and in hindsight, they should have thought about the consequences of how they interacted with the police. I’ll concede that point and, like most attorneys, counsel people on the street not to attempt to litigate their case with a police officer.

But that’s easy for me to say when I would be able to quickly bail myself out from custody and purchase the services of competent defense counsel.

However, there is another point. The police officers are trained on how to respond to these situations – they have training on tactics, they have tools at their disposal, and they have the power of numbers and the ability to call upon back up.

So yes, I absolutely believe that, in the case of Garner, this was about race, both in the officer’s response and the eventual victim’s reactions.

I also believe that in both Staten Island and Ferguson, a more mature police officer and a better initial response would have prevented these tragedies.

Finally, I think we need to be careful when using the term racism because its meaning has transformed over time. But we should not be afraid to note that race plays a role in these encounters. Until we can deal with three factors – blacks’ perceptions of police, police’s perception of blacks, and the poverty-crime cycle – we will make little progress in stemming these incidents.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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104 Comments

      1. Barack Palin

        That’s his own daughter, I think she knows more about the situation than you.  Even though the interviewer tried to bait her about it being about race she held her ground and stuck with her beliefs.  It was refreshing to see her be so honest.  I know you probably don’t like it because it doesn’t fit your narrative.  A few of us on here had also stated the same things she said, that it was more about Garner being a big strong man and not about him being black.

        1. David Greenwald

          “That’s his own daughter, I think she knows more about the situation than you.”

          Maybe. She also doesn’t have the training, background and experience that I have or others in these areas have. So in the end, it is her opinion. I’ve expressed mine and you’re free to express yours.

          You’ve stated several times that he was a big strong man, but you haven’t addressed whether a white man would have been approach by the police as he was, you haven’t addressed whether a white man would have reacted as he did. There are a complex set of interactions that create the ultimate outcome and I don’t think anyone can frankly make a definitive call on it.

        2. Tia Will

          BP

          This is the opinion of one woman. I suspect that you are stressing this because her opinion happens to be in alignment with your own. I agree that honesty is refreshing. I would also point out that she probably knows no more than anyone else about what was in the officer’s mind at the time of the event. It is very easy to attribute correctness to an opinion in agreement with our own. It is much harder to attribute correctness to an opinion we do not share.

        3. Barack Palin

          Maybe. She also doesn’t have the training, background and experience that I have or others in these areas have.

          Maybe.  But then maybe she’s just honest and not brainwashed and doesn’t automatically make everything about race.

        4. Barack Palin

          This is the opinion of one woman.

          Yes, the opinion of one woman who happens to be the daughter of the Eric Garner.  Considering what she’s been through I think that carries a lot more weight than just “one woman” off the street.

        5. TrueBlueDevil

          Touche, BP, touche. Racism is one of the tenants of modern day liberalism.

          I heard a doctor on the radio explain why he suffocated due to his morbid obesity, physical condition, and the cop being on top of him. A sad, sad combination, and I agree with David that we need new or better police training / better options / more humanity, but I don’t agree with riding the race train.

  1. Tia Will

    “We must acknowledge — with eyes and minds wide open — the world as it is if we want to change it.”

    I know that the center piece of your article is about race. I believe that there is a bigger issue here that does not get much traction in these discussions and that is empathy. Jeff Boone writes a thought provoking article about “victim mentality”. Little is said about the “blame the victim” mentality.

    What we see in many posts are the equivalent of “they caused their own death by …..”. What this completely ignores is that within our system of laws selling cigarettes and arguing with police officers are not punishable by the death penalty. And yet, this is the price that Mr. Garner paid. Stating that he would not have died if he had not been obese, or had asthma or cardiovascular disease are the classic “blame the victim” tactics. The fact remains that despite his medical problems, and despite his illegal activity, Mr. Garner was alive at the onset of the physical force applied by the police officer, and dead at the end of it. Is there anyone amongst us who would not prefer not to have this happen ? Is there anyone that would prefer that an episode like this never happen again ? Is there anyone who would not acknowledge that this kind of incident is part of our current world and would not like to change it ?

    What I would like to see is an honest conversation about how a lack of empathy contributes to the actions on both sides. I would like to see those who commit crimes as willing to admit the contribution of their own activities to the burden of the police. And I would like to see the police take full responsibility for the disproportionality of their own actions resulting in these horrific outcomes. Only when each side accepts responsibility for the consequences of their own actions and develop some understanding of the challenges faced by the other will their be positive changes in the “here and now” world.

     

    1. zaqzaq

      The apology from the officer was rejected by Gardner’s wife.  There is no evidence that the officers were trying to hurt or kill Gardner during the struggle.  There is no evidence that the officers had no empathy for Gardner.  Everything that those officers did was legal.  I would expect that each of the officers would have preferred a different outcome.

      Tia states,

      “I would like to see those who commit crimes as willing to admit the contribution of their own activities to the burden of the police”

      I doubt that those protesters who illegally blocked an intersection and street will apologize for the wasted resources of the police and inconvenience to the community by taking responsibility for their illegal actions.   Taking responsibility for their illegal actions would include the monetary cost to law enforcement for all of those officers as a start.

      Our criminal justice system is based on the concept that it is ok for defense attorneys to work so their clients avoid the consequences of their illegal conduct.  How often does the defendant tell the judge that they are guilty and deserve punishment.  Never.

       

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Zaqzaq – I agree that it doesn’t look like they purposefully wanted to kill him. Besides, this tragic event will likely cost them their career, and possibly put them in jail. There is no motive to support killing this peaceful man.

      You then wrote: “There is no evidence that the officers had no empathy for Gardner.”

      Didn’t the officers and EMTs sit with him while he wasn’t breathing (dead), and not do CPR? Didn’t it take them 6 or 7 minutes to start CPR? I do think they acted in a cold and unsympathetic way, and maybe the officers had a little bit of “small man’s complex” / Napoleon’s Complex when dealing with such a gentle giant who could toss them aside if he were of that mindset, which he wasn’t.

  2. South of Davis

    Tia wrote:

    > Stating that he would not have died if he had not been obese,

    > or had asthma or cardiovascular disease are the classic

    > “blame the victim” tactics.

    What Tia calls “tatics” many call “truth”

    It is a strange world when pointing out the facts that a guy high on drugs that just beat a guy in a robbery walking down the middle of the street punches a cop in the face and tries to take his gun is “blaming the victim”.

    Is pointing out that the Emperor of Japan launched an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor or the fact that Hitler ordered the killing of millions of Jews “blaming the victim”?

  3. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    “It is a strange world when pointing out the facts that a guy high on drugs that just beat a guy in a robbery walking down the middle of the street punches a cop in the face and tries to take his gun is “blaming the victim”.

    I think that it is telling that you chose to switch to the Brown circumstance ( which everyone who has posted on this subject has agreed that there were mitigating circumstances) and chose not to address my points about the Garner case. Then you chose to go still further astray with the WWII example. How about doing what one poster said and address the “here and now issues”. That I believe would be the basis for an honest conversation.

    Finally, a question. Do you have an objection to everyone involved assessing their own actions and the contribution of those actions to this obviously terrible outcome more objectively and with a view towards what they as the individual and as a part of a system could have done differently to obtain a better outcome ?

    1. South of Davis

      Funny how Tia chooses not to address my points by saying:

      > I think that it is telling that you …chose not to address my points.

      I don’t have an “objection” to “everyone assessing their own actions” but I know this will never happen.  

      I ALWAYS take responsibility for everything (good or bad) that happens to me since I know the guy who broke in to my car a while back didn’t “assess his actions” so I took responsibility for trying to save a few dollars by parking on the street in SF and having to buy a new window (and replace all the stuff that was stolen).  Was I blaming the victim?  I would still like to see someone get arrested and go to trial for breaking in to my car just like I think the cop that killed Mr. Garner should go to trial for crossing the line.  With that said we can’t say that a guy who does not take care of himself and is a walking heart attack who decides to break the law selling “loosies” and fights with cops as they try to arrest him for the (about) 30th time has NO blame for his problems (and ultimate early death)…

       

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        Funny how Tia chooses not to address my points by saying:”

        What point do you feel that I did not address ?  Ask me a question with demonstrable relevance to the topic at hand, and I will address your question directly, and that is a promise.

        1. South of Davis

          Tia wrote:

          What point do you feel that I did not address ?  

          Since you don’t want to take the time to scroll up my question  was “Is pointing out that the Emperor of Japan launched an unprovoked attack on Pearl Harbor or the fact that Hitler ordered the killing of millions of Jews “blaming the victim”?”

          If they are not “victims” and it was OK to respond with violence when attacked isn’t it OK for a cop to use violence when attacked?

          If I come in to Kaiser  and ask a woman you are doing a cervical exam on if she wants to buy some (untaxed) “loosies” (after getting arrested for the same thing 10 times) and you call Kaiser Security and I have a heart attack on my way to the hospital after a struggle with Kaiser Security would you call me a “victim”?

    2. hpierce

      “The here and now”?  Seems like the Brown incident occurred later than the Garner one… I guess “here and now” is defined by when YOU were aware of it, not when it occurred.  Noted.

  4. Frankly

    She also doesn’t have the training, background and experience that I have or others in these areas have.

    I think this is a good point and one that some should consider.  When you are vested in a racism template it might cloud your objectivity.  When you have established yourself as a champion of a cause, then you might be driven to perpetuate the cause if only in how you think and respond to things related to it.

    Little is said about the “blame the victim” mentality.

    I think Eric Garner was a victim of over zealous and overly-aggressive police restraint.   There is no doubt that his poor state of health contributed to his death at the hands of the police, but were it not for the too-extreme actions of the police on that day he would not have died from it.

    Saying it was about race is irresponsible because it is inflammatory.  It is also disrespectful of those that are true victims of racism.  Lastly, it deflects the debate away from what would be the truly valuable problem-solving ideas and toward discussions of things that will lead to nothing.

    If Eric Garner had been a big white guy dressing the same and behaving the same way, I have no doubt that the police would have responded similarly in this same situation.   That being the case, we should be debating the police response in general, not racism again.

     

    1. Tia Will

      Frankly

      If Eric Garner had been a big white guy dressing the same and behaving the same way, I have no doubt that the police would have responded similarly in this same situation.  “

      I agree with everything else in your post. On this point, I am not sure. Mr. Garner’s sister seems to share your belief. I am less certain. None of us “know” or should be certain because none of us are privy to the thoughts, heart and mind of the officer involved. To speculate does nothing more than reveal our preconceived notion about police activity and race relations. I believe that it is very important to be aware of our own biases that lead us to our positions of “no doubt”.

      1. Frankly

        A police officer makes a split-second decision based on the situation.  In these circumstances there is not time to process anything but training and the immediate assessment of the situation for which the training applied.  In this tragic event, to say that race was a factor worthy of consideration to debate, in my opinion, is a sign of racial bias and anti-law enforcement bias.

        Did the officer that restrained the suspect do anything differently because the suspect was black?  To make that case you have to pose a scenario where everything else was the same except for the suspects race and then make a case that the actions of the police would have been different.  And in this consideration it is also possible that the police used a less aggressive response due to the race of the suspect in due to the risk that the police would be accused of racial motivation.  These would be offsetting considerations lacking anything other than speculation… and it should serve to render both mute.

        The simple fact is that cops make a split-second decision for a response based on their training and assessment of the situation.  There frankly (because I am) isn’t time to be racist.

        1. Tia Will

          Frankly

          A police officer makes a split-second decision based on the situation.”

          I agree that this is what the police officer in the Garner case did. But I do not agree that it is what he had to do. Mr. Garner was unarmed. There was plenty of time to talk more, wait for more back up, chose to not make the arrest after all. There were lots of other options. It was the police officer that decided that life threatening force was needed. It was he who chose to engage physically when that was not his only option. This, much more than race ( about which I have been frank ….as you are….that I do not know if it was involved) is about the choice to use excessive force, which I believe is absolutely clear. This is where I think that there is much opportunity. Could we not choose to educate our police officers that non violent disobedience is not worth someone’s life when the crime is hawking cigarettes ? Could we not inculcate in this officer’s a sense of proportionality which might override their frustration and anger at not being obeyed ?

          There frankly (because I am) isn’t time to be racist”

          I don’t think that being racist is a matter of “timing”. I think that this is a matter of underlying attitude which is incorporated into one’s world view. I don’t think that in these situations the police stop, mull over whether or not to behave in a racist fashion, and then act deliberately either in a discriminatory or egalitarian fashion. I believe that their actions, just like everyone else’s are based on their underlying world view. This can manifest when there are only seconds to act, or when there are hours or days to contemplate one’s actions.

        2. zaqzaq

          Tia writes,

          “There was plenty of time to … wait for more back up.”

          There were at least five officers at the scene at the time of the struggle.  What more backup did they need?  How long had they been talking already?  How much longer should they have kept talking?  At some point they have to arrest the guy and be done with it.   They grabbed him and took him to the ground.   They did not punch, taze, pepper spray, or baton the guy.  The officer had his arm around his neck for no more than 17 seconds.  The option of walking away just encourages more criminal activity.  I do not see that as a viable option.  Gardener knew the drill having been arrested for selling single cigarettes (death or cancer sticks) eight times prior to this incident.

      2. tribeUSA

        Taking the mantle of Gilligan frrom Gilligans Island fame, I say

        “Skipper(Frankly) is right”

        “Professor(Tia) is right”

        I think you both make good points.

        But I do disagree with Tia re: evidence of racial incident.

        The press has portrayed this as a racial incident, with zero evidence (to my knowledge) to support that contention in this particular case. I think it is very important and legitimate to question this contention, and to ask for evidence to support this contention for this particular case. The burden of proof, so to speak, is on those who are accusing the cops of the serious charge of killing the man due to racial bias, the burden of proof should not be on those who suggest that racism may not have been a factor here.

        And yes, I’m on record (earlier Vanguard story on this incident) as agreeing that there appears to be evidence to support a charge of excessive force in this case; the cops were in the wrong on this one, and in general I do not support such heavy-handed tactics on nonviolent suspects; appears to me the cops could have given him more time and talked with him and calmed him down rather than going immediately into combat mode, endangering themselves and the nonviolent suspect.

    2. Don Shor

      we should be debating the police response in general,

      Ok. How do we get the police to stop killing people? Is there a federal role in assessing whether a police department has a history of misconduct? What should the appropriate response be to a situation like what happened to Mr. Garner?

      1. Frankly

        Training and changes to protocol for how to properly restrain a suspect without putting the suspect’s life in danger.  Maybe a limitation on when a choke-hold can be used… including a split-second assessment of a suspect’s health or potential health.

        And maybe not related to this particular incident, but others… education for middle school and high school students for how to appropriately behave and respond when confronted by the police.  What are the dos and don’ts.

        1. Don Shor

          Training and changes to protocol for how to properly restrain a suspect without putting the suspect’s life in danger. Maybe a limitation on when a choke-hold can be used… including a split-second assessment of a suspect’s health or potential health.

          And who should oversee this training? And are there other police behaviors that you feel merit review?

          1. Don Shor

            As an example, if it were provable that blacks were accosted and arrested for relatively trivial crimes at a higher rate than whites, would that merit some kind of review and change in policies? Let’s take marijuana crimes: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/04/the-blackwhite-marijuana-arrest-gap-in-nine-charts/
            If you acknowledge that these arrests are having a disproportionate impact on black Americans, do you agree there should be some kind of intervention to change those practices?

        2. Frankly

          Are you hinting at affirmative action policing?  For example, give blacks more leeway to keep the the crime and punishment outcome representation statistics equitable?  Because unless you are also going to control for other stats like the percentage of blacks involved in criminal activity, and the amount of criminal activity (requiring a higher level of police activity) in black-dominated neighborhoods, you would be doing just that.

          1. Don Shor

            I’m not “hinting at” anything (why do you always do this?).
            Blacks use marijuana at slightly higher rates than whites.
            Blacks 18 – 25 use marijuana at slightly lower rates than whites.
            Blacks are much, much more likely to be arrested for marijuana crimes.
            Do you believe that disparity merits some policy change? Getting arrested and having an arrest record is very harmful to future employment prospects. Would it be worth investigating why there is such a disparity in arrest rates, and seeking to change both laws and practices to avoid these outcomes?

          2. Don Shor

            So with a situation like Mr. Garner’s, I can’t see why it was necessary to go beyond a simple written citation. What on earth was he being arrested for? He was basically avoiding taxes, violating a relatively trivial city ordinance. Many of these “crimes” — including marijuana possession — simply don’t merit arrest. It’s a parking ticket thing.

        3. Frankly

          Related to your first post, you are failing to control for these neighborhoods.  The incidence of drug use is much higher in these neighborhoods.  The incidence of crime is higher in these neighborhoods.  The incidence of thugism and gangs is higher in these neighborhoods.  The percentage of law enforcement per geographic area is higher in these neighborhoods.  And if the percentage of blacks living in these neighborhoods is greater that is the percentage of blacks in the larger geographic area (it is) then it is logical that that blacks would be over-represented in drug crime and other crime and punishment, and have more deadly encounters with police, when measured against the larger geographic area.

          1. Don Shor

            All of those things you say may be true. But the article I linked was regarding arrests for marijuana possession. Possession of pot isn’t thugism or gangs or any of that. It shouldn’t even lead to an arrest.

          1. Don Shor

            I’m not blaming anyone. I’m showing you that they are enforcing the laws unevenly with respect to outcomes in various racial and ethnic groups. I don’t know why the police are doing that. All I know is that the impact on certain ethnic groups is higher, more adverse, and very harmful. Police choose who they arrest, prosecutors choose who they charge. The laws are not enforced evenly. Perhaps we should have a task force address why.
            I certainly advocate decriminalizing possession of marijuana.

          2. Don Shor

            With respect to the Garner case, it is the policy of arresting people for minor infractions, with law enforcement targeted heavily in poorer neighborhoods, that seems to lead the residents of those communities to feel that they are being harassed. It is the ‘broken windows’ policing, along with stop-and-frisk, being targeted heavily toward minorities that leads to the perception of harassment. You don’t have to change the laws to change how they are enforced. Though it’s probably a good idea to change laws that continuously lead to harmful outcomes.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          Don – “enforcing the laws unevenly” is often difficult to prove. Most race merchants just say “x group is 10% of the population, x group is 20% of those arrested, ergo there is racism”. But this logic is quite flawed.

          There was an infamous study in New Jersey that the Bush Administration actually tried to suppress. Residents claimed that there was racism by the police in targeting African Americans who were speeding. A detailed analysis with high-speed cameras and ethnic analysis showed that police handed out tickets at virtually the identical rate of speeders. There was no bias or targeting.

    3. tribeUSA

      Re: Frankly’s comment: “Saying it was about race is irresponsible because it is inflammatory.  It is also disrespectful of those that are true victims of racism.  Lastly, it deflects the debate away from what would be the truly valuable problem-solving ideas and toward discussions of things that will lead to nothing.”

      Well said!

  5. Biddlin

    ” With that said we can’t say that a guy who does not take care of himself and is a walking heart attack who decides to break the law selling “loosies” and fights with cops as they try to arrest him for the (about) 30th time has NO blame for his problems (and ultimate early death)…”

    In the law, a proximate cause is an event sufficiently related to a legally recognizable injury to be held to be the cause of that injury. Had the officer not applied the illegal and unauthorised, not just in New York, but by the WWE and all professional wrestling associations in the US and Canada, rear-naked choke hold, would the victim have died?

    ;>)/

  6. PhilColeman

    Who, among the many of us reading this, will admit to being a racist? Point One.

    For those of us who did not raise their hand, how have you gained the extraordinary ability to go into another person’s mindset, a person you’ve never even met. Then, conclusively judge that person–that grouping of persons–as racist (or any other “ist.”)? Are you so free of any inborn bias yourself, to where you can render a pronouncement with such total confidence, purity, and sanctimony? Point Two

    If you reinforce this judgment by selecting a cherry-picked pattern of episodes over an indefinite time frame, is it fair to conclude that these isolated examples accurately represents the feelings of the greater body, numbering thousands or millions of people? Point Three.

    Finally, if you choose the selection pattern of Point Three, are your critics allowed to use the same strategy to rebut the premise? Cherry-picking illustrative events is not copyrighted, but it sure does confuse, distort, and deflect.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Well said.

      I do think it’s interesting that David has run numerous stories about alleged or possible racist killings with limited information or unsubstantiated speculation; but a racist killing of a married Bosnian man (with his wife) by a hammer attack is ignored in south St. Louis.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          1. The media ignores this case re black-on-white murder, very close geographically to the Ferguson death.

          2. The “youths” who beat this man to death, most of the media won’t even identify that they are “youth of color” or black youth.

          3. It was a horrific crime – beaten to death by a hammer – and unprovoked. These are typically the crimes that papers focus on, the ‘new’ in news.

          4. There are reports that the attackers / killers made reference to their being white, i.e., a hate crime.

          5. There may be a pattern here of black on white / black on Bosnian crime which is being ignored.

          In a nutshell, hypocrisy.

          1. Don Shor

            But it has nothing to do with police behavior. There are probably hundreds of cases of race-related attacks you could find on police logs anywhere. That isn’t really news. I seriously don’t see the relationship between the particular horrific crime you’ve mentioned something like six times now, and the fact that the Vanguard is discussing alleged misbehavior by the authorities. The Vanguard isn’t a crime blog. If the Vanguard wrote articles about race crimes, and only wrote about white-on-black attacks, that would be hypocrisy.

      1. David Greenwald

        You seem to not understand the focus on the Vanguard of the behavior of authorities rather than the behavior (in general) of citizens. Think about your first encounter with the Vanguard – the abuse of power by Nancy Peterson. Operating under the color of authority is what separated the actions of Peterson from Julie Crawford and it’s what separates the conduct of these officers from the attack on a Bosnian.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          David, a quick read above shows that you bring up race in paragraphs 4, 5, and thereafter.

          And if this were really about police abuse, why no mention of the white customer killed by a black police officer at a 7/11? No mention, let alone no detailed article on that unprovoked killing.

          The left seems to pick and chose the hot button of alleged racism when it suits their needs. Heck, I never saw the issue of race brought up in the Nancy Peterson drama, which I always thought quite interesting. More than one friend brought up the observations that we had over educated white leaders going over the heads of African American leaders, specifically the athletic director and the head of the school system. Was this merely a coincidence, or did they not respect the authority of African American leaders.

  7. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    I don’t have an “objection” to “everyone assessing their own actions” but I know this will never happen.  

    And how exactly do you “know this will never happen”. It is my belief that this certainly could happen, if not for every citizen, at least within our police forces. This is a job. It is a job for which people are supposedly screened ( although obviously not always as in the Cleveland shooting of the 12 year old), trained, coached, counseled, and ultimately removed from duty if they do not meet certain standards. So there are two separate means in which these types of actions could be avoided.

    1. Proactively

    – Police departments could all choose to embrace a philosophy of prevention, knowing and having empathy for the people in the neighborhoods they serve, use of the minimum amount of force necessary in non physically dangerous situations and a zero tolerance for use of retaliatory force.

    – All police officers could undergo ongoing training based on these principles and all new members of the police force could be selected in part for their understanding and willingness to adhere to these principles.

    2. Retrospectively

    – Debriefings could occur after every use of force situation in which the procedure used is addressed not from the point of view of who did what wrong, but rather, what actions could have brought about a better outcome.

    – In the case where a police officer has committee an illegal act, it is my belief that they should be treated exactly the same as anyone else committing the same legal act. They should not be judged differently because of their stated “intent”. Police who pepper spray peaceful protesters using equipment with which they are not trained, or who use choke holds when they have been declared illegal, need to be held as accountable for this action as would anyone else. To not do so is a clear message that they are above the law.

    I agree with you that this kind of self analysis and monitoring is unlikely to ever occur in the general population. But there are  major differences between the civilian population and the police. We reward the police for their actions with our trust, payment of salaries and benefits and respect as a group. Like any one else doing a job, I expect them to earn their compensation including respecting and obeying all the same laws they are sworn to uphold.

  8. Anon

    David Greenwald: “You’ve stated several times that he was a big strong man, but you haven’t addressed whether a white man would have been approach by the police as he was, you haven’t addressed whether a white man would have reacted as he did. There are a complex set of interactions that create the ultimate outcome and I don’t think anyone can frankly make a definitive call on it.”

    I suspect the police would have reacted exactly the same way to ANYONE who chose to disobey them.  Not every incident of police brutality against a person of an ethnic minority is necessarily about race.  In this case of the chokehold being applied, there is absolutely no overt evidence of racism, none.  To insist there was racism is ridiculous and nothing but rank speculation, because there is no way you can know what was in the mind of that police officer or the victim at the time of the takedown.  Interjecting racism into an incident like this takes attention away from the real issue – police brutality against ordinary citizens.

    1. South of Davis

      Anon wrote:

      > you haven’t addressed whether a white man would have

      > been approach by the police as he was

      David (and others beating the “racist cops” drum) seem to forget that facts that year after year:

      1. Cops arrest more white people than black people

      2. Cops beat more white than black people

      3. Cops KILL more white than black people

      1. Davis Progressive

        “When adjusted for population, the data shows black people were twice as likely to be killed by police than whites. Blacks are also disproportionally more likely to come in contact with police as suspects in violent crimes.”

        “In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 386 whites and 140 blacks were killed by police, according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control data on causes of death.
        In Ohio, blacks made up 50 percent of the killings by police — 10 of the 20 recorded deaths — though they make up just 13 percent of the state’s population.”

        http://www.journal-news.com/news/news/crime-law/race-a-factor-in-police-shootings/njHYM/

        1. tribeUSA

          DP–good to see some stats here.

          But the most pertinent statistic is the rate of shootings and/or killings by police per # of people of each racial group being pursued/arrested as suspects in violent crimes, or who are actively resisting arrest or threatening or getting violent with police–though admittedly there may be some personal bias in how each police official makes a determination of who is or is not threatening or actively resisting arrest.

          That said, I’m surprised that the police shoot nearly triple the numbers of whites as blacks, given that the total number of violent crimes committed by blacks and whites is roughly comparable (there are almost as many poor blacks as poor whites).

          1. David Greenwald

            As I noted in my column this morning – there are reasons to be skeptical about those statistics.

    2. Davis Progressive

      “To insist there was racism is ridiculous and nothing but rank speculation”

      he didn’t.

      in fact he explicitly wrote:

      “Finally, I think we need to be careful when using the term racism because its meaning has transformed over time. But we should not be afraid to note that race plays a role in these encounters.”

      did you bother to read the article?

       

        1. Tia Will

          Anon

          But we should not be afraid to note that race plays a role in these encounters.

          I am not sure what you find funny in this statement. Please note that the word is “race” not “racism”. It is factual that in each of the encounters that have been posted about here, including the one in which a white student was shot by a black police officer, the races of the participants in the interaction have been different. That is a fact. It is of course subject to interpretation whether or not that fact had any bearing on the outcome.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          Tia, you’re right, the media focuses on incidents when a white officer (or patrol person) shoots a black citizen.

          A white unarmed  patron at 7/11 was killed by a black police officer, and the story has gotten little coverage outside of the conservative media.

          The brutal unprovoked killing of two white sheriffs in Sacramento by an illegal Mexican immigrant got minimal, and quick coverage (at most) by the media.

          And the brutal killing of a Bosnian man in south St. Louis – possibly a payback for the Ferguson case – has received minimal coverage.

          So it looks like clear media and liberal groups hypocrisy to many.

  9. Anon

    To Tia: IMO the police department should severely discipline this officer for ignoring police procedures that forbid chokeholds, regardless of the findings of the grand jury and the failure  of the prosecutor to act.

    1. Tia Will

      Anon

      That would certainly be a good start althouh I tend to believe that addressing systems issues is more important than individual punishment. My goal is always prevention rather than punishment after the fact. That might provide the impetus for a change in attitude and development of better training modules.

      1. Anon

        I’m all for sending a clear message to police officers that if they use a chokehold, they will be held accountable by their own police department.  How’s that for prevention?

        1. Tia Will

          Anon

          How’s that for prevention?”

          A very good start in my opinion. Then perhaps we could move forward with other measures designed to prevent injury based on use of excessive force of other types as well, such as untrained an unauthorized use of equipment for situations for which it was never intended with each progressive step judged on its own merit.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          If the EMTs failed to provide CPR, they should be fired for incompetence.

          Per the victim, the officers involved should have been charged with something like reckless endangerment, whatever is a step below involuntary manslaughter.

          I understand the position of the police, but their lack of judgement and humanity is shocking.

  10. WesC

    Another recent case in the deep south:   An University of South Alabama 18yr old, 5ft 7in, 140lb male college student buck naked and on LSD goes to the police station.  The young student walks away from the station and then returns and begins banging on the window.  The officer comes out and points his gun at the naked young man.  The naked student walks toward the officer with arms outstretched and palms open.  The officer backs up, and at one point the student kneels down and then gets back up and again walks toward the officer.  The naked young student gets as close as 5ft from the officer and the officer shoots him in the chest and kills him just 30 seconds after the officer came out of the building.  The student is buck naked with arms outstretched and palms up and obviously does not have a weapon on him. At no time did the young naked student make contact with the officer or otherwise try to gain control of the officer’s weapon.

    No indictment by the grand jury.  No allegations of a civil rights violation. Not even any charges of excessive use of force. Officer is still on the job.  No protests march, visits by Eric Holder, and no speech by Obama. The whole incident is apparently considered a minor event.  Do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that the student was white and the officer black?  Why is it that when outrageously  heavy handed police tactics are used it is only a significant event if the victim is not white?
     

  11. Tia Will

    WesC

    Do you think it might have anything to do with the fact that the student was white and the officer black?  Why is it that when outrageously  heavy handed police tactics are used it is only a significant event if the victim is not white?”

     

    If we are referencing the same incident in which the individual shot was Gil Collar, you seem to have left out a few facts. You made no mention that this was not “acid” but the hallucinogen 25I-C-NBOMe, which is related to LSD, but much more dangerous and with high lethality. Side effects include confusion, paranoia, fear and panic. Erratic behavior is common.

    You also did not mention the account of Mr. Collar’s behavior in which he was witnessed

    ” naked and rambling incoherently, screamed at the frightened occupants of a passing car. He approached a second vehicle yelling “nonsense” while trying to climb over the driver into the car, she said.

    All the while, Rich said, Collar was biting the driver. The passenger, a former University of South Alabama football player, was punching Collar in the face but “it didn’t faze Collar,” she said.

    You also left out the account of Mr. Collar’s approach to the policeman as a “charge” not as a peaceful meandering forward as your source seems to imply.

    Now just as we do not have any knowledge of whether racism played a role in the Brown, or Garner cases, we also have no knowledge of that in the Collar case. However, just as in the Brown case, there is ample evidence of erratic, violent behavior on the part of Mr. Collar before he was shot.

    Just as I think it is wrong to assume that racism underlies any of these instances, I also believe it is naive to believe that it could not be a factor in any…..or all.

    It seems to me that the key issue in each of these cases is excessive force. We should at least be able to agree on that.

    1. Miwok

      If true, drugs make people unpredictable and police are helpless to not only subdue but even reason with a suspect, then take their guns, and go to bean bag rounds and big nets.

      Even racism cannot make an officer use any more force than is given them. All the experts in here have mentioned tasers are ineffective, pepper spray, choke holds, etc. So the only contact left is tickling them into submission, I guess.

    2. Anon

      I find it hard to believe that a group of officers could not have tackled this college kid to the ground since he was clearly unarmed.  I watched news footage one time of a clearly mentally ill person with a gun, who sat on a chair in the middle of a street.  The police SWAT team was involved, and waited for the right moment.  A sniper from SWAT was able to shoot the gun out of the mentally ill person’s hand, and they were able to resolve the situation peacefully.  The police had every right to shoot this mentally ill guy, but went the extra mile to save him.

      Watch the whole thing here: http://www.policeone.com/emotionally-disturbed-persons-edp/videos/5955463-Sniper-shoots-gun-out-of-suicidal-mans-hand

      1. Miwok

        There are cases from the old PCP days when six officers could not hold a scrawny guy down, and officers suffer injuries when a wild animal is being subdued.

        Regardless of the person who went wild on these drugs, it certainly is argued “they were not that kind of person”. It was the drugs. When people start concentrating on that, what tools do they have? Tranquilizer darts? Nets?

      2. Tia Will

        Anon

        I find it hard to believe that a group of officers could not have tackled this college kid to the ground since he was clearly unarmed.”

        I agree. And I feel that this could equally well be applied to all of the recent instances including Brown, Garner, Collar, the 12 year old with the realistic appearing toy and the many other instances in which police fire to kill rather than awaiting sufficient back up to achieve numbers or specialized proficiency sufficient to disable the individual without risk the lives of either the police or the individual being apprehended.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          I think this may have happened more in the past, when many officers had a background in golden gloves (boxing) and martial arts. They are now often trained, it seems, in a very rigorous, structured way.

    3. tribeUSA

      Tia–yes, good points; funny the media couldn’t seem to find any mitigating factors in the Ferguson (until grudgingly a few, but not all mitigating factors were reported after the grand jury), or other cases:

      Headline: “BLACK POLICEMAN SHOOTS UNARMED WHITE MAN” Factually correct, no? But somehow this is not seen on country-wide news media headlines, whereas it was in the Ferguson case when the words ‘black’ and ‘white’ were reversed.

      By the way, I do think it is entirely possible the shooting of this crazed white guy was justified; along lines of mitigating evidence that are similar in general nature to the Ferguson shooting–tragic; too bad this ‘final option’ can’t always be easily averted.

      1. Tia Will

        tribeUSA

        too bad this ‘final option’ can’t always be easily averted.”

        Maybe I am too harsh in this respect, but I feel that it should be the minimum expectation of our police, who are charged with protecting our lives, to not do what is “easy” but to always use lethal force as their last, not their first resort. I see this most clearly in the shooting of the student on the hallucinogenic, the shooting of the 12 year old brandishing his toy, and the Garner case. All of theses in my opinion could have been averted, perhaps not easily, but by choosing the less expedient, but more humane and professional course of action.

        I am aware that some of my belief stems from my own training. In medicine, we are trained rigorously to always consider all of our options prior to acting, even ( I would say especially) in the apparent emergency situation, since that is the time when due to our own fear we are most likely to choose the expeditious rather than the wisest course of action. It would seem to me that we have many cases in which deadly force is used when another option, usually involving waiting for back up, would be the wiser course. In our debriefings, the key question is always, at what points could we have done something differently to avoid the adverse outcome ? The answer is rarely if ever, nothing.

        It is through this process of self and group retrospective analysis, not through stonewalling and declaring that the death was unavoidable, that we learn and improve our future performance. This has been a dramatic change in approach in medicine over the past 30 years. I see it is high time for the police to institute this same kind of process and make it public and transparent.

      2. TrueBlueDevil

        Thank you for your perspective, and I share some of your concerns. I recall a description of a clearly mentally unstable young man, outside of the Metreon theaters, in downtown San Francisco. He was in the middle of the street, having what sounds like a breakdown, and he maybe had a small knife. When he finally lunged at an officer, he was shot dead. I want to police to be safe, but there have to be other ways – Tazer, restraint net, rubber bullets, police dog – to subdue the individual, and keep the officers safe.

        However, your analogy is flawed from a logic perspective. Let’s say you take a “cautious” approach on your patient, and it doesn’t work. You can go to option 2, 3, or 4, to try to remedy their problem. Worse case, they die, and you live.

        Now, the police officer. If he or she takes a “cautious” approach, and the perp has a gun or a knife, they’re dead. Game over. There is no replay button or step 2, 3, or 4. They’re dead.

        Just as you have training, officers are trained and know response times. They know that if they see a gun, it takes them x number of seconds for their brain to process the image, for their hand to move, and for them to grab their gun. I saw this on History Channel. I think it is something like 2.2 seconds. Now 2.2 seconds might sound like a brief amount of time, but it the perp has a gun, you may be dead.

        Police live with a great deal of stress, and even Charles Barkley says without the police, inner city America would look like the Wild Wild West.

        Either way, police are now being hamstrung by Eric Holder PC policies and theories, and citizens are dying, and crime is going up due to his soft on crime theories.

  12. TrueBlueDevil

    David writes enough inaccuracies here to fill two counter arguments. Here are just a few items.

    He writes: “…There is a racial component here too – and many do not want to see it and probably want to eliminate the term racism from our lexicon – but many of these encounters occur between the police and people of color, and that serves to undermine trust between those communities and their police.”

    Racial component. There are also often youth, stupidity, common sense, attitude, and other “components”. Al Sharpton and Twana Brawley were liars, Sharpton a race hustler. Same for the Duke case. Trayvon Martin was a sad case, the jury just believed he jumped and beat the wrong man’s head into the cement (one who had a gun). Better to run home, very sad. Michael Brown tossed around a store clerk around like a rag doll, then tried to grab a cop’s gun. The Staten Island case is extremely troubling, a gentle giant suffocated by cops acting stupidly.

    Meanwhile, a young Bosnian man is beaten with a hammer, to death, by youth of color – a story the media ignores. An unarmed white patron of 7/11 is gunned down in cold blood by a black police officer, and the media is in the back room having a hot toddy.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/25/critics-see-racial-double-standard-in-coverage-of-/?page=all

    Fact is, the police shoot (kill?) far more white men then black men (2012), according to Bill O’Reilly of Fox News. His numbers were something like 120 black people shot, and over 320 white people shot.

    This looks further disproportionate when you consider that in most violent crime statistics I’ve seen (it was a few years ago) from the Department of Justice, such crimes are often committed by 35 to 45% African Americans. So given these stats, one would expect a more evenly balanced 1 to 1 ratio of cops shooting both whites and blacks.

    The statistics don’t prove that there is a war on African Americans, while the media coverage does seem to show that the media loves to feast on these little dramas.

    Do I, SouthofDavis, wdf1, or Frankly ever suggested that the term racism be stricken from our lexicon? I never recall reading such. I have blogged here, or elsewhere, that high schoolers often don’t know the difference between a fact (“most professional hockey players are white”), generalization, stereotype, and a racist comment. Liberals toss around the charge of racism as easily as someone changing their underwear, it is one of the tenants of modern day liberalism.

    There are lots of sad stories in the news, many of which the media wants to put a black-victim-white-devil spin on, yet they are too lazy, ignorant, or biased to give us a full picture. Pushback? Not really, just an educated public.

    1. Tia Will

      TBD

      With regard to Trayvon Martin “Better to run home, very sad.”

      We agree on one point. This was very sad. We seem to totally disagree on responsibility for the outcome.

      Three points with regard to this:

      1. Yes, if he had run, he would likely be alive today….although we don’t even know that. What if Zimmerman, in his pretend police attitude had decided to use force to detain him.

      2. Trayvon had no obligation to run, unless of course, the “stand your ground” law does not apply to him as well as to Zimmerman, whose defense boiled down to essentially two points, “intent” and “fear for life”. Very convenient since Trayvon was no longer able to invoke either.

      3. Zimmerman was, in his own mind, acting in a quasi official capacity as an authoritative “defender” of his neighborhood. He maintained this stand even after he was advised not to follow Trayvon by the dispatcher.

      You have advice about how Trayvon should have acted differently, but I have yet to see you advise how Zimmerman should have acted differently to avert this “very sad” outcome.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Zimmerman could have not volunteered for the community patrol, but he did.  You’re right, Zimmerman could have stayed in his truck or car. He didn’t. He could have not carried a weapon, but my understanding that this man had never used it before. He lived in the complex, was an unpaid watchman, so felt he had some kind of standing. He was attacked, had his head slammed into the concrete, was pinned, and used his weapon. He sounds like a mixed bag. After this case I think he helped a trapped woman in a car accident, but then he had a girlfriend call the police on him.

        Trayvon could have first not left his home. There are plenty of times my parents forbid me from leaving the house late at night, or counseled me not to leave. As I got older, I flexed my new independence, but after I was twice the victim of violent crime late at night, yes, I reconsidered my choices. There is an old saying, “Nothing good happens after 12 o’clock at night”. This is just like Davisites wisely using their freedom of choice to not go to downtown Davis on Picnic Day, we know the risks. Yes, Trayvon could have also run home, and he could have not attacked Zimmerman. He could have chosen a different path home, avoiding Zimmerman. Of coarse, apparently these aren’t the options or thinking employed by some of his friends, his music, and his social media circle. We now sadly know all this.

        There are many young men, especially many young black men, who have a chip on their shoulder regarding the police. I council them all to show respect, follow commands, respect the authority, not make a rash movement, give them no lip or attitude, and if there is a problem, get their name, write down the facts, and I will go with them the next day to file a report or a grievance.

        Tia, I have worked in some crime-ridden areas, and I have walked away from numerous confrontations, de-escalated numerous confrontations, and avoided many confrontations. It just is not worth it. But there are many young men filled with testosterone, lax parenting and minimal thought processes, who don’t work to avoid such situations.

        1. Tia Will

          TBD

          Well, I guess that unlike you, Trayvon Martin did not have the benefit of learning from his violent encounter the way you did. Perhaps the outcome would have been different for you if you had encountered a self appointed vigilante gun packing ” protector of his community”.

          I have a question for you. Do you advocate the “stand  your ground” law ?  If so, do you believe that it should apply equally for Trayvon Martin and for Zimmerman ?

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          I learned from my experiences. I also had a father, brothers, role models – of every color and hue, religious leaders and community that supported peaceful or non-violent ways of resolving conflict. I also made positive choices as a young person. It looks as if Trayvon was making a lot of very poor choices, and his Mom was trying to get him on track.

          It seems like the US press underplayed Trayvon’s criminal and rambunctious actions, so it’s hard to compare my youth to his. I have lived far more years, worked and traveled through many problem areas, and our actions are nevertheless 180-degrees different. I was active in many ways, traveled to many urban and poor areas, was locked into chained off cages in inner city locker rooms to protect our safety during athletic events, but always avoided or diffused tense situations. Trayvon sought out trouble, from three school suspensions, to carrying tools needed for burglary and having jewelry on hand likely to not be his own, and like many other cases discussed here regarding youth, he was a big marijuana user. Texts revealed he wanted to buy a gun. His fatal flaw was attacking a security patrol and beating his head into the pavement, not calling the police, or running home.

          Unfortunately, there seems to have been a rise in the anger  and the ‘chip on the shoulder’ attitude of some young people, especially ‘youth of color’. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of role models, a lack of fathers, a lack of male role models in school, police distrust, a rise in gang culture, ethnic studies programs which seem to foster these hurt feelings and resentments, hooligans and anarchists which piggyback off of these demonstrations / confrontations, the diminished role of religion in many communities, and rap music which glorifies violence.
           
          I haven’t spent much time thinking about stand your ground. People have a right to self defense. Trayvon Martin was asking for trouble by the path in life he chose, and unfortunately he chose the wrong head to bash into the cement sidewalk. 
          http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/24/us/zimmermans-lawyers-release-text-messages-of-trayvon-martin.html?_r=0

          Yes, Trayvon should have been able to easily outrun this middle aged out of shape man, or slip away into the complex he knew well. He chose confrontation.

        1. Barack Palin

          And who are these supposed experts?  Do you mean the ones that say they “have the training, background and experience that I have or others in these areas have”?  So they must know better, so darnit, if they say there’s racism then you’d better just believe it.

        2. Barack Palin

          The ones that make me shake my head are those that say even though the facts don’t prove any racism we really can’t rule it out because we don’t know what the officers were thinking at the time.  So you can’t win can you?

        3. Miwok

          Management at UC Davis. They were related to upper management so I was not aware policies of this sort were so selective. I thought the policies were for everyone. I was naive.

          Since I was white I was in the wrong. The Hispanic and Black people were never wrong, even with jokes and language. I just didn’t like the vulgarity.

          That is why I don’t hang around sports bars or Raiders fans very much.,. 🙂

        4. South of Davis

          Miwok wrote:

          > I am told “by the experts” that only Whites can be racists, not any other race.

          Don’t forget that only racists point this out (or the fact that almost all “hate crimes” involve racist white people) …

        5. Davis Progressive

          i think it’s much more complicated than “only whites can be racists.”  there is a dominant-surbordinate interaction.  there is also the power differential.  a lot of black/ minority based hatred is in response to perceived slights by the majority.  that all leads us to a place i think where there certainly can be racism in both directions, but without the clear understand of the dynamics, i don’t think we resolve it.

  13. Tia Will

    BP

    The ones that make me shake my head are those that say even though the facts don’t prove any racism we really can’t rule it out because we don’t know what the officers were thinking at the time.  So you can’t win can you?”

    I don’t see this as an issue of “winning” or “losing”. I do see it is unproductive to speculate on what goes on in the mind of another. For me, the key is being willing to accept as their truth, that which another person says. So when a poster says that they believe that “racism is de minims” in our culture today, I accept that was the truth as they see it. When a person states that they believe that they believe racism is alive and well, just expressed differently today than during Jim Crow, I believe them that this is their perspective  whether or not I happen to agree. I think that trying to psychologize or imply that one knows better what is in someone’s mind than they themselves is a ridiculous assertion and a counter productive point for discussion regardless of the philosophic stand of the person making the assertion.

    1. Anon

      “I do see it is unproductive to speculate on what goes on in the mind of another.”

      In general I would agree, unless there is overt evidence indicating what is on someone’s mind.  For instance, in Florida, the police made a regular habit of stopping “salt and pepper” couples on the freeway, assuming they were likely to be involved in transporting drugs.  One may not be able to read what was on the police’s mind, but their behavior made it pretty clear they were racially profiling.  See: https://www.aclu.org/racial-justice/driving-while-black-racial-profiling-our-nations-highways

  14. Anon

    Davis Progressive: “you’ve made a strawman argument.  no one said racism existed in every confrontation…”

    You’ve got to be kidding?  Did you actually read this article?  See statements below from the article.  The last statement is particularly telling.

    “The vital trust between police and community is strained if not broken when these incidents occur. There is a racial component here too – and many do not want to see it..”

    “He notes that neither Ferguson nor Staten Island are the “perfect case” because neither are “a perfect victim and the protesters haven’t all been perfectly civil, so therefore any movement to counter black oppression that flows from the case is inherently flawed.

    “This is about racial inequality and criminal justice…”

    Racism doesn’t require the presence of malice, only the presence of bias and ignorance, willful or otherwise. It doesn’t even require more than one race.”

    “This gets us to the debate as to whether the Garner incident had a racial component. I think it is indefensible to argue that it did not.”

    “Because of the trust factor, the way that African-Americans respond to police officers is going to be different than the way white people will respond in the same situation.”

    So yes, I absolutely believe that, in the case of Garner, this was about race, both in the officer’s response and the eventual victim’s reactions.
    I also believe that in both Staten Island and Ferguson, a more mature police officer and a better initial response would have prevented these tragedies.”
    “But we should not be afraid to note that race plays a role in these encounters.”

     

  15. Tia Will

    TBD

    Trayvon sought out trouble, from three school suspensions, to carrying tools needed for burglary and having jewelry on hand likely to not be his own”

    Absolutely non of which would have been known to Zimmerman at the time he decided it was his right, despite being advised otherwise to continue to follow Trayvon.  So the relevance of any of this to the actions of Zimmerman would be ?

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Trayvon initiated the attack, right?

      The attack was unprovoked, right? (It was not a defensive counter punch.)

      Trayvon successfully took Zimmerman to the ground, right?

      Trayvon was in a superior position?

      Trayvon bashed his head into the cement, right?

      All of these things were proven in a court of law. This was no Staten Island, no gentle giant; this wasn’t the (white) man gunned down at 7/11. It is sad, very sad, but Trayvon made piss poor decisions.

      I know that you’re a doctor, and a woman. But on “the streets”, in the man’s world, you don’t go out seeking these kinds of confrontations unless you are ready to accept the consequences. It is the law of the jungle. Young men especially have a different path to walk, they can’t been seen as weak, but they also should not seek out physical confrontations that can escalate in a millisecond. Men also move in packs, there are ‘wingmen’, gangs, different cultures will act different ways, a display of confidence in one culture may be interpreted as a challenge or “disrespect” from another culture, and drugs and alcohol only make the decision process that much more blurred and problematic. I’m not saying it is right or wrong, but young men need to learn how to make correct decisions. Staying away from the nightlife, getting home at a reasonable hour, avoiding problematic areas or crowds, avoiding the drug crowd, there are minefields out there.

      I knew a fellow athlete who ‘talked a lot of smack’, as we say. Over and over. He was an all-world smack talker, it was painful. I made a decision: I quit going to this competition site frequented by inner city athletes primarily because of this one individual. I always figured someone was going to pop this guy, have an ugly fight. Two years later I ran into a fellow athlete. He said, “Do you remember Twan? Twan was sitting in a car and a guy walked over and fired a bullet through his head. He lived, but he is blind now… he now wishes he wasn’t such a jerk when he had sight.” This was wrong, this was a crime, this was attempted murder, but there were 200 people who didn’t have a gun fired at them. Twan, sadly, paid the price for his buffoonery. I’ve been at playgrounds where the crowd changes, a bad element comes in, if you are street smart, you can sense it… one place I went to, in an upper middle class city, it changed… one day, a scuffle broke out, a smaller man was bested, he quickly ran to his car, and whipped out a baseball bat, and then came another, the crowd started to scram and hop high fences as there were rumors of a gun… this all happened in the blink of an eye. I had avoided this place, went back for a stupid reason, and didn’t return for years. Young men have to learn to avoid these situations; some seek them out.

       

  16. Tia Will

    The attack was unprovoked, right? “

    Only if you don’t consider being stalked a provocation. Personally, I would feel quite threatened if I were being followed by someone for, in my mind doing nothing more than walking down the street. I might even do something to “stand my ground” if I were physically capable of doing so, and in Florida that would be my legal right now wouldn’t it ? But of course, if I wasn’t alive to testify that I had felt threatened and fearful for my life……oh, well.

     

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > Personally, I would feel quite threatened if I were being followed by someone 

      So would I, but I have never attacked the person and started bashing their head in to the concrete trying to kill them like Trayvon did (according to the outcome of a “trial” not just a “grand jury proceeding”).

      > I might even do something to “stand my ground” if I were

      > physically capable of doing so

      Are you saying that if you felt “quite threatened” by a 50 pound 6 year old girl you would attack her (since I’m sure you are “physically capable of doing so”)?

      1. Davis Progressive

        the evidence was mixed on whether martin bashed zimmerman’s head on the concrete.  zimmerman claimed that was the case, but the witnesses did not describe it and some believe the forensic evidence was inconsistent with that claim.

  17. Tia Will

    South of Davis

    Are you saying that if you felt “quite threatened” by a 50 pound 6 year old girl you would attack her (since I’m sure you are “physically capable of doing so”)?”

    Again the totally ridiculous question. Here we have two males. One stalking the other. Now I do not approve of the “stand your ground law”. I believe that the default action should be to retreat ( or run away ) if one is able to. But I do believe that the law should be applied equally to all parties. So if Trayvon feared that Zimmerman might be stalking him in order to kill him, why should he not be able to invoke the “stand your ground” law just as Zimmerman did. As for bashing Zimmerman’s head into the ground, we do not know Martin’s intent because we cannot ask him. Perhaps he was only intending to protect himself from Zimmerman as was Officer’s Panteleo’s testimony that he had no intent to injure Mr. Garner but only wanted to restrain him. If we are willing to take the word of Officer Paneleo, why would we not be willing to accept the same rationale from Trayvon Martin ? Oh, wait…….we can’t hear Trayvon Martin’s side of events because he is dead.  Just like Mr. Garner.

     

    1. South of Davis

      Tia wrote:

      > I might even do something to “stand my ground” if I were
      > physically capable of doing so

      and when I asked if she would “do something if she was “physically capable of doing so”
      she responds:

      > totally ridiculous question.

      Tia is the one who said  “I might even do something to “stand my ground” if I were physically capable of doing so” yet feels that a question about her comment is ” totally ridiculous”…

      P.S. Even if you are “physically capable” standing your ground is a bad idea if you can get away (I never got a chance to tell Trayvon this fact)…

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