Who You Gonna Call?

Do even white people trust the police any more? What should I do if a cop wants me to pull over? Try to keep rolling until I can stop in an area where there are witnesses, hoping someone will take a cell phone video in case things go sideways? Is the cop going to tase me if I don’t bow and scrape? Do I have any recourse if he does? Well, at least being shot to death isn’t my primary concern, being white and all.

Like everyone else, I’m thinking of the videotaped murder of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, by a white cop in North Charleston, South Carolina. I’m not surprised to see conservative whites in denial over this or similar videos showing cops beating, tasing, choking, shooting, and killing unarmed black men. I’m not surprised to see conservative whites expressing racial solidarity and a fawning devotion to authority by setting up fund-raising pages for white cop executioners on Facebook. A certain segment of the population simply will not learn or grow when it comes to race; they are lost and will never change.

So ignore them, right? Don’t let them get under your skin. Yes, but the media keeps handing them an open mic. Driving home from the museum yesterday, I listened to one such, a veteran white policeman interviewed by a BBC correspondent on my local NPR station.

The authorities in North Charleston did everything right, according to this veteran law enforcement officer, firing the cop who shot Walter Scott and charging him with murder. The BBC interviewer failed to point out that the authorities didn’t do anything until the New York Times published the video.

The veteran cop insisted the killing in North Charleston “can’t be linked” to other confrontations between black men and white policemen that have been in the news. He said this two or three times during the interview, and the BBC interviewer never called him on it.

The killing of Walter Scott can’t be linked to other killings of unarmed black men by white cops? Really? Because you say so, buddy? Let’s look at just two other videotaped killings of unarmed black men by white cops: the shooting of Oscar Grant at a BART station in Oakland, California and the chokehold suffocation of Eric Garner in New York City.

  1. White cop stops black man for some infraction (broken taillight, disturbing the peace, selling cigarettes)
  2. White cop employs deadly force against unarmed black man (shooting, choking)
  3. White cop kills unarmed black man

Well, shit, there’s three links right there. And there are plenty of other videos, going all the way back to the beating of Rodney King.

The veteran policeman finally got to his real beef: Al Sharpton. He complained (again, several times) that every time a confrontation between a cop and a black perp gets into the news, “racial profiteers” like Al Sharpton come “crawling out of the woodwork,” anxious for publicity and the opportunity to make trouble. Mercifully, the BBC correspondent had had enough by this point and started talking over him.

Suppose you’re a black woman whose son or husband has been killed by the police. The authorities aren’t investigating and the killing didn’t even make the local news. You know your loved one did nothing wrong and suspect the only reason he was killed was his color. Who you gonna call, Crimestoppers? 911? The citizens’ complaint hotline? Good luck with that. Me, I’m gonna call Al Sharpton. He may be a sleazebag, but he can get on nationwide TV.

I know, I’m all over the map here. I don’t have a proposed cure for racial problems in the USA. Sadly, I don’t think anything’s going to change, at least not in my lifetime. I’ll even go out on a limb and say the cop who murdered Walter Scott, like most of the other white cops who’ve murdered unarmed black men and boys, will eventually skate. He may have trouble finding work in law enforcement again, but he won’t to to prison. Black Americans will never trust cops, and before you try to turn my words on me and ask why can’t they learn or grow, it’s more the case that they have learned, over the centuries they’ve lived in this country, that white authority will never trust them, and grown distrustful in return.

© 2015, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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6 thoughts on “Who You Gonna Call?

  • The media reporting is totally distorted and deaths of non black unarmed people is hardly reported. To me, the article points out the real issue: the comparison of citizens killed by the police in the US to Australia and Germany is an eye opener. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-do-us-police-kill-so-many-people-2014-8?IR=T
    There are many cases of similar non black unarmed people being killed but little media focus. To prove my point about the media, check out the title of this link and then search for the world African, black, white in the transcript – the lawyer never mentions any race and we cannot tell the race of the victims he cites from the interview but the title of the link (not on the page but in the link) puts the words ‘African American’ in his mouth. http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=13621

  • Oops, the title of the link does not come up – but it says ‘African Americans’ in the link on Facebook. I believe by saying African Americans it will get more clicks.

  • Jeanne, the graph in the first article is very disturbing. Going back up to my own first paragraph, I take back the part about not having to worry about being extra-judicially executed because I’m white. Looks like we’re all targets in this shooting gallery.

  • I believe it is a question of class: none of the black victims that have been in the news were middle class, or above, and they all had had brushes with the law before. I would guess it would be the same for the majority of the shooting victims, no matter their race. So many times, I think race is blamed when class is what is significant. The perfect example is O.J. Simpson (from his first trial. Lizzie Borden’s case demonstrates that things haven’t changed much in that regard over a 100 years. I happened to read a book about her during the O.J. Simpson trial (when English books were hard to find and the only English TV I could get was basically non stop OJ Simpson trial on CNN). The parallels between her case and O.J. Simpson’s struck me: both were affluent but with pretty damning evidence and then both were acquitted. Lizzie’s genteel, wealthy background is thought to have influenced public opinion and the trial. Apparently after her acquittal, everyone thought again about it and decided it could only have been her and so she was ostercized. The one difference from today was the belief that a woman would not commit such a crime.
    P.S. My apologies for grammar mistakes in the first comment I made.

  • Good points. Check it out: I actually wrote a blog post (www.relizawrites.com) about behaviors that do not constitute death-penalty offenses. A number of our police officers seem to have lost track of what warrants lethal force. And what doesn’t, like a guy running away.

    It’s getting scarier out there.
    Reliza recently posted…Not Death-Penalty OffensesMy Profile

  • Jeanne, I agree class has a lot to do with who gets jacked up by the police, but other countries have the same class issues we do and somehow manage to function without imprisoning 20% of the population or shooting a significant percentage of those stopped to death. I think our incarceration rate has more to do with racism than class, and the high number of police shootings with both racism and American gun culture.

    Robin, shit is fucked up and bullshit, and the police are out of control.

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