Killing, Exoneration, Racial Polarization: It Must Be America
Many years ago I knew a man named Steve. Each time I ran into him walking along the sidewalk with his noticeable limp (he had a bad leg, I’m sure he wasn’t shot by the police shooting) we’d stop and have a conversation about life’s issues — money, politics, you name it, all the issues of the day that matter. But the first thing he would invariably tell me is: “They did it to me again, eh!” He was always lamenting the fact that, like most people, he didn’t win the lottery. And he would continue by telling me how he missed a good hit – one number above here, one below there. But he kept trying…
Then one day it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen Steve in the St. Henri neighbourhood where we lived in a long time. So I began asking people we both know what happened to him. One guy who manages a depanneur finally told me that Steve moved to Ontario where his extended family lives. We knew he hadn’t died, at least not by the hands of the police; we would’ve heard. He was a law-abiding middle-aged white guy who referred to Black people as “coloured…” [I’m wary of people who use such archaic words to describe us, but I blame it on the coloured people he grew up around.]
Wonder if he ever hit the lottery allowing him to flip his mantra, “doing it to them” for a change.
Steve’s mantra came to mind the night of Monday, November 24 and reverberated in Black communities continentally, even internationally, when St. Louis County Prosecutor, Robert McCulloch, released Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson’s testimony in connection with the August 18, 2014, shooting of 18-year-old Black male Michael Brown in the St. Louis suburb.
All I could think of as Prosecutor Robert McCulloch stood at the lectern spitting Wilson’s version of events that fateful Saturday morning was they did it to Black people, especially Black men – again. It was in keeping with the historical systemic practice. I know that the ex Ferguson police officer who resigned on Saturday, November 29, had dodged a bullet – a judicial one. Unlike Michael Brown who couldn’t miss six of the twelve bullets Wilson fired at him, resulting in the latest (trite and recurring) discussion on race and racism in America, vis-à-vis white policemen’s shootings and killings of Black men, seemingly with impunity and invariably exoneration.
Back in the 1990s when NYC police were in a shooting frenzy, including the killing of African immigrant Amadou Diallo, shot multiple times. On that occasion Al Sharpton referred to incidents as [the police] “going hunting…” Then there was the assault on Abder Louima (luckily he wasn’t killed, just “sodomized” with a toilet plunger); the shooting death of Shawn Bell on the eve of his marriage; this past summer the choke-hold death of Eric ‘I can’t breathe’ Garner “for selling loose cigarettes…” [By the way the police who killed that man, just like Darren Wilson, won’t be indicted. We all saw what happened. Where’s the justice here? Do Black people, Black men, have a chance?] And a host of others before, in between, and to come.
It’s a dubious police pastime, white police hunting Black men.
In his first and so far only TV appearance since killing Michael Brown, he told ABC’s Sunday morning man George Stephanopoulos the killing is not something that will haunt him… it’s “just something that happened…” And he surely used the time out of the public eye to concoct and rehearse his dubious and damnable (others would say credible and convincing) script of events that Saturday.
“[…] His face looked like a demon… He turned, looked at me and had the most intense aggressive face I’ve ever seen… made like a growling… he told Stephanopoulos. He “…felt like a 5-year-old holding on to Hulk Hogan?” [Wonder how the Hulk feels about his persona been referenced in connection with a murder.]
We’re dealing with a monster here; it was a case of kill or be killed. So, demonize the Black human monster (conjure that historical white fear of Black males) then kill him… because ‘I feared for my life.’ Which is why Wilson fired twelve rounds.
“Fanciful stuff,” is how former federal Prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin, described Wilson’s recollection of events… Perhaps so! But another white policeman’s future, not his life, was at stake; the Grand jury was sold. Which is why not only Black people, but people others across the human spectrum, have concluded that Black males’ lives are worth nothing. To prove it, they continue to shoot and kill Black men without fearing any repercussions. There’s an Everest of evidence… to that effect.
In creating his “fanciful” image, Darren Wilson ensured that Michael Brown’s fate was sealed. Nevertheless, he’s sorry about the killing, he feared for his life… so he “opened fire in self-defense […] did my job right… and my conscience is clear…” And he wouldn’t do anything different if the victim were white… He was simply doing his job… So what’s all the fuss about?
One CNN host said she’s “looking forward to see what Wilson’s future is like.” She doesn’t have to look far or too hard. As a fledgling script writer and recently married and now a regular citizen, I can assure you, Ms. that he’s getting on with his life. His future is bright; he’s white.
Don’t know if he’s considering running for political office again, but even former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani had a lot to say. An expert on Black-police relations, this headline sums up his law and order position: Giuliani: ‘White police officers wouldn’t be there if you (he means “you people”) weren’t killing each other.
He has his numbers/statistics memorized, like this one, “Ninety-three percent of blacks are killed by other blacks,” Giuliani said in a heated argument on NBC’s Meet The Press a couple Sundays ago. He and Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson were “locking horns”, illustrating the racial polarization.
Just let people like the former mayor talk. They surely have no tears to shed for [bleeding hearts], Black people or others in solidarity, and seemingly no empathy or sympathy for Michael Brown’s parents. The judicial system is working as it was designed to. Fine!
And thank God for FOX NEWS’ stable of Black Republicans who are readily afforded an opportunity (in these racially polarizing cases) to have their say and stand in solidarity with their white Conservative brothers and sisters. As in the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin murder trial, many of them sounded off in this latest case of “race” in America.
And I’m struck by something, the more Black men are shot by police, the more I realize that there’s nothing like a Black Republican spitting… Conservative dogma (liberals do it to, but speak the truth). Hell, they seem to want to outdo their white Conservative counterparts by demonstrating how they, too, can be critical of Black people, even more so [for our failings…] for not pulling ourselves up by the proverbial bootstrap… and agitating every time the historical scab of racism in America is ripped off.
Even well-known African-American neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson (I was dumbfounded when he revealed his political colours a few years ago) has had his critical say on the Ferguson incident. He said, “[…] things were better…” for Black people before President Barack Obama was elected, he said. Yes, there are many African Americans of that ilk.
Here’s hoping none of those men and women ever need the help of the NAACP or other historically Black [civil rights] organizations…
So, in conjuring Steve’s mantra, “They did it to us again!” And so it shall be until equity, honesty and transparency in the judicial system, as well as acknowledgement of its shortcomings and failings vis-à-vis Black people are addressed.
Postscript: The Ferguson outcome
In a meeting with community representatives and law and order forces at the White House, President Barack Obama proposed a $75 M plan for police retraining and the purchase of 50,000 cameras as a requisite part of police attire, ostensibly to prevent future Fergusons.
Good idea! But remember the Rodney King movie and the outcome.