There is something off key regarding the back and forth rhetoric between the New York police and the protestors regarding their right to gather together in solidarity while the cops, family members and their supporters are in mourning over the loss of two decent, hard working Brooklyn police officers who were killed at the hands of a very sick individual. Originally, I was totally in agreement with the thinking that the protestors should take a few days off to show deference for those in mourning over the senseless killing of two innocent policemen.
Then I started to have second thoughts about this issue of the protestors having to give up this right. It bothered me enough to where this became the major reason as to why I thrashed a recent blog favoring protestors taking a moratorium. I rewrote it without referring to this subject as I intended to write about this on a follow up blog. For now, I am focusing solely on the first amendment right of the protestors to gather and mourn the loss of Black lives within their own communities.
I am an older White registered republican who went back and forth about this issue in my mind before I arrived at resolution which satisfies me.
My second thoughts began with the question, what does the protestors exercising their right to peacefully gather and march have to do with showing deference for those who wish to mourn the loss of these young police officers? It is one thing if the protestors decided on this tactic on their own but no one has the prerogative to request this as a condition of honoring the untimely, horrible deaths of these innocent young, decent officers.
It is as if officials are indicating that the protestors have something to apologize for instead of these same leaders recognizing that these protestors simply want to mourn and support each other while marching in order to bring public attention to an important cause which is to end anymore preventable deaths of Black men at the hands of the police. This activity is not designed to engender hatred against the police or to be disrespectful but to stand up for those who can’t.
These protestors are asking to have their feelings respected too. Most protestors do not condone violent activities or boorish behaviors towards police officers for simply doing their jobs. They welcome the supportive protection of the police so that their mourning and their messaging is not tainted by criminals who take advantage of those who are sincerely intent in participating in a peaceful protest march.
Dear police, do you not recall how police officials managed to leak ugly data to the media before the families had a chance to grieve and to have a burial service for a loved one who was fatally hurt by a police officer as in the Ferguson case? Do you not understand that these actions add tremendous pain to a family in mourning over the loss of their loved one at the hands of the police?
Recently, I was watching TV when a former New York leader reminded the viewers that these people who were inadvertently killed by police officers were committing a crime. Let’s make a quick review based on the facts. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old Black child was not committing a crime but just playing in a fantasy world by himself while holding a BB gun. The police who fatally shot him, originally tried to explain away their action by claiming that they had to shoot because there were others nearby who were in harm’s way. Fortunately, there was a video which proved that there was no one else in the park. The police at the scene did not follow their own prescribed standard protocol for this type of situation which caused a loss of life which was totally preventable. Then the police showed such respect for this child that they watched him die in agony for four minutes without rendering any aid.
Then what about the 22 year old Black man, John Crawford III from Beavercreek, Ohio who made the mistake of picking up a pellet gun from a Wal-Mart shelf while talking on the cell phone. The police who responded to a 911 call took seconds to fatally shoot this young man without taking time to make a proper assessment of the circumstances. If the police felt that someone posed an imminent threat, there are other tools which can be used to constrain someone such as a Taser gun.
Let us not forget Levar Jones, another Black young man who was shot at multiple times by a police officer at a South Carolina gas station for the crime of supposedly not wearing a seat belt. The police official attempted to justify his actions to his superior by stating that he was in fear for his life. However, this time there was a complete video showing what really occurred. The young man was very respectful in following all of the officer’s orders. The only reason this young man is still alive today is because the officer was such a poor shooter.
Now it is time to take a look at the high level criminal activity of recent Black men by which police officers had no choice but to resort to fatally harming these individuals. Michael Brown shoplifted $15.00 worth of cigarillos at a local convenient store as per the St. Louis County Police report #14-43984; Eric Garner in New York had a history of selling untaxed individual cigarettes; and Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill young man committed the major crime of falling asleep on a park bench. Before this young man was fatally shot 14 times by a police officer, he had been checked out by two other police officers who determined that the young man was simply sleeping and so they did nothing. Again, this police officer who did the shooting, did not abide by the standard protocol established to handle a young person with mental illness. Although this officer has been fired for not following the correct protocol, he will not face any criminal charges.
There is only the South Carolina police and judicial officials who are choosing to hold the police officer accountable for the shooting of Levar Jones. A choice has been made by the local officials to not protect someone who foolishly thought he could abuse his position of power by shooting a Black young man for no good reason with impunity. He has not only been fired but he is also facing serious felony charges.
There are those police officials who will claim that the above are rare, isolated incidents and it is not fair or right to paint all police officers in the same light. However, since the data regarding this issue is not formally collected in most communities, we do not know how isolated these incidents are. There is one newspaper in Utah which has been compiling this data over a period of years. As per a New Republic article, titled, “More People in Utah Are Killed by Police Than Die in Gang or Drug Violence” by Ben Mathis-Lilley on 11/24/2014, he reports the following: “A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahans kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence. Between 2010 and October of this year, the Tribune found, 45 people were killed by law enforcement officers in Utah. Officer-involved killings ranked as the second-deadliest category of homicide, trailing deaths perpetrated by spouses or partners but ahead of gang killings, drug killings, and deaths resulting from child abuse. Only one of the police-involved killings—the shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard during an undercover drug operation in 2012—led to a prosecution, but a judge threw out charges against the officer involved in October.”
In short, the protestors simply want police reform to end the repeated preventable deaths of Black men at the hands of police officers. They are announcing the message that the status quo way of handling these type of cases is no longer an acceptable standard and they intend to march until they are heard.
So, the protestors have every right to continue to peacefully march as it is their constitutional right and their message is just. This stance is not intended to be disrespectful of those who are grieving over the brutal killing of two innocent, young police officers.
However after a lot of thought, I still wish the protestors would call a moratorium for a few days to show the respect to those who have not always demonstrated equal concern for our fallen Black brothers. I genuinely believe that the protestors’ message gains power and strength if they take the higher road. Alternatively they lessen the power of those who are acting out of hate, racism and intolerance, by acting in a magnanimous way even though they are not obligated to do so.
This morning (12/24/14), the ST. Louis Post Dispatch reported that another minority young person, Antonio Martin, 18, was fatally shot by police at a Mobil gas station in Berkeley, which is near Ferguson. Later, police stated that the victim was armed while aiming a gun towards them and the gas station’s video verifies this. Those in the know say that the Berkeley police culture is not remotely similar to what we have come to expect from the Ferguson PD.
Those protestors deliberately taunting police officers who are simply doing their jobs are hurting their message of demanding police reform when they act toward others with the same disregard that they claim to have endured. Listen to the words that Benjamin Watson published on his Facebook account on November 25, 2014 regarding this issue:
“I’M EMBARRASSED because the looting, violent protests, and law breaking only confirm, and in the minds of many, validate, the stereotypes and thus the inferior treatment.”
Police Officers who sing limericks demonstrating how they really feel about the deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of police do not demonstrate the good sense and sound judgment that I expect to be paying for with my tax dollars. On 12/24/2014, the Obamacrat.com and the Grio printed the lyrics of a song shared at an Elk’s Lodge recent annual charity event with about 50 LAPD personnel in attendance and backed by some of the top brass. However, someone was able to record the song and to then share it with TMZ. This is what some of the LAPD top brass feels is okay:
In the video a lodge member and former federal official Gary Fishell can be heard leading others in the song that contained these lyric:.
“Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin’
With a badass policeman
And he’s bad, bad Michael Brown
Baddest thug in the whole damn town
Badder than old King Kong
Meaner than a junkyard dog.
Two men took to fightin’
And Michael punched in through the door
And Michael looked like some old Swiss cheese
His brain was splattered on the floor
And he’s dead, dead Michael Brown
Deadest man in the whole damn town
His whole life’s long gone
Deader than a road kill dog.”
The Grio also reports the following:
“Members of the Glendale Elks Lodge are upset though and plan to take actions against Fishell and the organizers of the event. “We don’t stand for any racist things like this,” a trustee of the lodge said.
The LAPD is launching a preliminary investigation into the matter. The police chief Charlie Beck said this in a tweet.
I am aware of the video released via TMZ. Like many of you, I find it offensive & absurd. It does not reflect the values of the #LAPD. I have directed our Professional Standards Bureau to look into this & determine if any active department employees were involved.”
Unfortunately, there are insensitive dummkopfs on both sides. Let’s pray that their voices do not prevail.
CNN: Protesters Taunt Cops at Memorial to Slain Officers/ Newsmax.com/12/23/2014
After Killing of Officers, Protest Movement Is at a Crossroads NYT By NIKITA STEWART 6:27 PM ET 12/24/2014
At Home and at Work, Black Police Officers Are on DefensiveNew York Times – 12/24/2014