Thinking about the Injustice that Feeds the Flame

The evidence is clear. Injustice feeds rage and rage sometimes boils over.

“Somber Geometry” by Steven L. Taylor is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0*

The first viral video, before any of us knew what a viral video was, of police beating an African-American man that I can think of was Rodney King. It was Los Angeles in March of 1991. I know that there was news footage of police attacks on African-American protestors in the 1960s, and one suspects perhaps other footage later, but the King beating was a foreshadowing of things to come decades later: the police being caught by a private citizen in what they thought were hidden moments.

The officers who beat King, three white males and a Hispanic male, were tried for assault and the use of excessive force. Their acquittals in state court (there was eventually also a federal trial) let to riots in Los Angeles in 1992.

NPR had a retrospective on the 25th anniversary of those events, for anyone who is unfamiliar, or who needs a refresher: When LA Erupted In Anger: A Look Back At The Rodney King Riots.

My mind goes back to those events for obvious reasons, as there are a number of parallels. I think, too, I felt some personal connection to those events in the since that while I was in graduate school in Texas when it all happened, I had recently lived in Southern California and had family there, including a sister at UCLA at the time.

My mind goes back too because I can retrospectively see how little I understood of those events at the time. I did not understand what a glimpse into the reality of problems with police and African-Americans we were all seeing. I was hardly ignorant of the problems of race as an abstraction, but as a white kid from the suburbs, I really had no clue. Retrospectively as well, I am still struck by how little these issues were addressed in school, whether it was in Texas or California. The aforementioned violence of the 1960s? Hardly mentioned, to my recollection. I was vaguely aware, at best, of words like “Selma” and “Bull Connor,” but I am not sure how far into adulthood I got before I could have really talked about such things with any intelligence (and I was a “political junkie” from a young age).**

At best, all of that stuff was ancient history. I knew, for example, what a lynching was, but I had no broader historical context for it.

Anecdotes aren’t data, I know, but I am willing to bet that most of us did not receive much in the way of education on these topics (and that that is probably still true now).

What the King video presaged, however, was our current era wherein the advent of the cell phone camera would bring us increasingly frequent glimpses of what had been happening out of the sight of most of us. And to deploy a cliche: out of sight, out of mind.

Now, it should be very much on our minds. Although even in plain sight, not enough mental energy is going into addressing these clear problems. Of late we have gotten increased glimpses into what is clearly a massive problem of injustice.

My initial thought for this post was to compile a list of examples, but that, depressingly, became too daunting a task. So here are some places to start, such as a list of high profile examples from just 2015/2016 via the CBC: 14 high-profile police-related deaths of U.S. blacks.

NPR’s Code Switch podcast provides the following list of what people were doing before they were shot (A Decade Of Watching Black People Die):

We wanted to learn more about each person’s final moments before the police ended their lives. Here’s some of what we learned:

Eric Garner had just broken up a fight, according to witness testimony.

Ezell Ford was walking in his neighborhood.

Michelle Cusseaux was changing the lock on her home’s door when police arrived to take her to a mental health facility.

Tanisha Anderson was having a bad mental health episode, and her brother called 911.

Tamir Rice was playing in a park.

Natasha McKenna was having a schizophrenic episode when she was tazed in Fairfax, Va.

Walter Scott was going to an auto-parts store.

Bettie Jones answered the door to let Chicago police officers in to help her upstairs neighbor, who had called 911 to resolve a domestic dispute.

Philando Castile was driving home from dinner with his girlfriend.

Botham Jean was eating ice cream in his living room in Dallas.

Atatiana Jefferson was babysitting her nephew at home in Fort Worth, Texas.

Eric Reason was pulling into a parking spot at a local chicken and fish shop.

Dominique Clayton was sleeping in her bed.

Breonna Taylor was also asleep in her bed.

And George Floyd was at the grocery store.

Moving away from specific examples to broader reality is a study discussed in the LAT last year: Getting killed by police is a leading cause of death for young black men in America and the broader Mapping Police Violence project. See, also, WaPo’s police shooting database and a similar project by The Guardian.

And, I would note, that beyond police shootings we have things like the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, and that of Ahmaud Arbery earlier this year.

Or, to take an example with a non-violent (thankfully) event, I would recall Henry Louis Gates’ arrest in 2009. Or, another thankfully non-violent event (but with a clearly violent undertone) from recent weeks: a confrontation in Central Park over an unleashed dog and guy who wanted to look at birds.

These are not just a series of disparate events. They are all sewn together with the threads of racism that, in turn, all too frequently results in violence aimed at black males. And we cannot ignore the way these recent events connect back to Rodney King (and all the unvideoed events over the decades and now) as well as back to the Civil Rights struggle and to Jim Crow and to slavery. Until we fess up to that as a country and try to engage in serious reform, protests will emerge and morph from nonviolence to violence. And if we pretend like this is just the reflection of “thugs” or even “outside agitators” instead “the language of the unheard” and driven at a significant level by deep and real resentments and injustice then someone will be writing a quarter-century from now about some other city that was set ablaze (indeed, likely sooner).

I am trying to tread lightly on everything this going on at the moment as it pertains to the killings of George Floyd and Breona Taylor and the subsequent unrest. I am extremely cognizant of the fact that I am a suburban middle-aged white man from a privileged background and am highly educated with titles that afford me some minor, but not insignificant, level of prestige in our society. I, therefore, cannot really fully understand the rage and injustice being discussed.

Still, it is clear that we have a systematic problem with police. This is just a fact backed by clear empirical evidence. We also have a broader social problem with race, and especially with attitudes towards black males. We inadequately teach our own history, which doesn’t help generate appropriate responses and solutions.

I get that things are better now than they were in 1955 or 1965 or 1975 and even 1992. But better is relative and whatever else one wants to say, it isn’t good enough.

I will conclude by ranging into my wheelhouse and note that it is a telling fact that the US did not really become a fully functional democracy until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, because we did not true universal suffrage until that point. And we still struggle with adequate voting rights in 2020 as things like voter ID, gerrymandering, the judicial gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and the disenfranchisement of ex-felons have all help contribute to making it more difficult for African-Americans to vote and/or to be represented adequately in government. And I do think that lack of adequate representation further leads to feelings of helplessness and amplifies injustice.


Note: I am not an expert on the politics of race, nor am I an expert on the politics of protest. I will say that as a Latin Americanist I have studied the politics of violence and the ways in which the state responds. As someone who studies democracy, I do look at mass behavior.

*Taken at the National Monument for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL. It is a sobering place that I highly recommend visiting.

**On a related note, I don’t think I read Alexander Stephen’s Cornerstone Speech until I was an Assistant Professor, but I had adsorbed the “state’s rights” arguments about the Civil War as a youth in Texas.

FILED UNDER: Race and Politics, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I was just out of the Army and about to start grad school in Tuscaloosa when the riots broke out. That period was also my first exposure to Rush Limbaugh.

    I got a lot of teaching in the civil riots movement in grade school in Houston and the DOD schools at Fort Leonard Wood and Kaiserslautern. But I was also getting countervailing teaching at home.

    Regardless, I think I was probably in my late 20s before I seriously saw civil rights as a current problem rather than something that had more-or-less been resolved by the time I started school.

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  2. Barry says:

    Thank you for posting this!

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  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    Gutting the Voting Rights Act is probably the most shameful act of the Roberts Court to date. What has followed in its wake has justified the existence of the VRA in spades. The Chief should be ashamed of what he allowed to happen.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    Jacob Javits saw that the problem with the Southern Strategy was not that the real Republicans would not be able to control the racist faction, but that the racists they recruited would become the real Republicans. And so we have a Republican Party today that makes no effort to appeal to minorities, but instead does everything in their power to disenfranchise them. A Republican Party whose most reasonable leadership are a decided minority and can marshal little more than the occasional harumph or “tut-tut!” when their ultimate leadership engages in blatant racism. A leadership who views the primary function of the police and military as protecting the haves from the have-nots. And of course, a leadership who condones and supports an armed mob, appeals to them, and has their back. Make no mistake, these jokers walking around with body armor and AK-47s are to the modern Republican Party what the KKK was to the racist governments in the South.

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  5. drj says:

    If injustice feeds the flame, the police isn’t exactly helping.

    Just look at that list.

    For instance, that old man in Salt Lake City, or those people on their own front porches in Minneapolis:

    National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling “light em up”

    These assholes are out of control.

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  6. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Taylor –

    I’m not black. I’m hispanic. Born in Los Angeles, raised in NYC until the age of 7, then back and forth between LA and NYC until about 12, then Los Angeles through college. I was born poor. My sister and I were raised by our single mom, because biological dad was (and is) a scumbag. I have zero relationship with my biological dad. Mom is my hero.

    Growing up in LA and NYC, I was surrounded by family and neighbors who were all poor. Working poor, but poor. I had no idea how poor I was until I went off to junior college in Glendale, CA, and saw 18 year olds driving new BMW’s and Mercedes’.

    In high school – 1975-1978 – I had a big ass afro, as was cool at the time. I looked like a light skinned black man, just due to the afro. By the time I was in Junior college, I had been stopped by the police no less than 20 times, and arrested four times. Each time I was arrested, it was on a completely trumped up charge by the officers – most of the time for “disturbing the peace” when no one was complaining. All four times, charges were dropped after I spent a night in jail. My mom had a rule “If you get in trouble, don’t call me. Because if you’re man enough to get yourself into trouble, you’re man enough to get yourself out of it.” I was beaten twice by police, for literally no reason, then charged with “challenging a peace officer to fight”, of which I did no such thing. Again, charges dropped.

    Oh, did I mention I was a straight A student, an All-City Football player, elected president of my class all three years of high school and class valedictorian? I was the LAST guy to get into trouble, yet police always found a way to hassle my friends and I for having the temerity to be in the “wrong neighborhoods”. Where I grew up in Los Angeles there is bridge that separates Highland Park from South Pasadena, and SPPD would wait at the end of the bridge to cut off “the beaners” from entering South Pasadena. On more than one occasion, I was threatened with a beating if I didn’t turn around and head back over the bridge. Can’t tell you how many times I had to drive 20 miles to go to a place 5 miles from my house because I had to drive into Pasadena to go around South Pasadena to get to Alhambra.

    I was in Los Angeles when the Rodney King riots took place. It was madness, but I understood it completely based on my own experiences. And, now, at almost 60 years old, and almost 30 years later, I see that all that MLK tried to make happen has failed miserably. A HUGE chunk of white America REFUSES to see that there is a severe and prevalent INSTITUTIONAL RACISM that continues to permeate through American society. Drug laws that prosecuted small time black crack dealers but ignored the Hollywood types ingesting $25K a month up their noses. Housing redlining. Banking restrictions. Etc, Etc So on top of all the criminal justice and economic hardships, you add to that a police culture that seems to kill unarmed black men and women at a much higher rate than whites and Asians, and it’s no surprise to me that people are rioting.

    But It’s not about George Floyd alone.

    Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Abner Louima, Michael Brown, Ezell Ford, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald, George Mann, Tanisha Anderson, Philando Castille, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and too many others to list. This isn’t about one man. It’s about a pattern that has to stop.

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  7. dazedandconfused says:

    Saw it all growing up. Oakland. Nuff said.

    The Oakland PD wasn’t as bad as the LAPD during that time too. They had been re-shaped during the late sixties by the crucible of Hells Angels, Black Panthers, and that time period hitting them like a ton of bricks. They learned it was stupid and expensive and have changed the culture in their own academy. Nowadays there’s IMO a new problem. James has touched on it with his pieces of the new militarization of police. A lot of Gulf war vets came in. The main problem is they brought the military doctrine of force protection being primary. Depts like Oakland’s learned the hard way that doesn’t work. Public service has to be primary because people won’t tolerate fear-biting cops, not for long anyway. Most police in this country come from general academies, takes a big city to fund your own, and general academies are staffed largely by ex-mil people now.

    That said this response is out of proportion to the incident. Unlike the LAPD in the Rodney King incident this cop was widely and strongly condemned by his peers and has been arrested. This is about something else. What exactly I’m not sure but my nose says there’s a general sense of panic about. This lock-down has hit young adults very hard. Most of their households didn’t even have enough left over to cut a $400.00 check at the end of a typical month.

    “A hungry mon is an angry mon.” -paraphrased Bob Marley.

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  8. Scott F. says:

    Thank you for this post, Steven. Especially this:

    And we still struggle with adequate voting rights in 2020 as things like voter ID, gerrymandering, the judicial gutting of the Voting Rights Act, and the disenfranchisement of ex-felons have all helped contribute to making it more difficult for African-Americans to vote and/or to be represented adequately in government. And I do think that lack of adequate representation further leads to feelings of helplessness and amplifies injustice.

    This statement is dead on and is indeed very telling.

    While I sympathize with your resistance to what you see as a relentless call from commenters here for you to bash on the GOP, I know you can see that this dysfunction you clearly recognize in our government isn’t symmetrical. The contributions to African American disenfranchisement you list here are solely projects of the Republican Party and the inadequate representation has been by design, not by accident. A lot of voting behaviors may be baked-in partisan predilections, but it’s been the political project of the GOP (and the GOP alone) to claw the US back from universal suffrage ever since we supposedly achieved it with the VRA.

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  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: We often say that you can’t sell people stuff that they don’t want to buy, and I think the corresponding element–that you won’t sell people what you don’t want to sell–is also true. The GOP embraced the “Southern Strategy” because their leaders and base were okay with becoming the racist party. And growing up in the PNW and watching the nice real estate agent who was a deacon at our church advise my parents to let him list their house without putting a for sale sign out front (to keep out people who weren’t “serious buyers” of course), I can see the logic of the decision. Being the racist party has been pretty risk-free for decades and is still pretty low risk even today. It may never become risky.

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  10. CSK says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Thanks for writing this, Eddie.

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  11. Monala says:

    @EddieInCA: Thank you for sharing your story. Sometimes I think that some folks need to realize that even people they know have gone through this.

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  12. Moosebreath says:

    Good post, Steven.

    Also, @Scott F.: this comment “The contributions to African American disenfranchisement you list here are solely projects of the Republican Party and the inadequate representation has been by design, not by accident. A lot of voting behaviors may be baked-in partisan predilections, but it’s been the political project of the GOP (and the GOP alone) to claw the US back from universal suffrage ever since we supposedly achieved it with the VRA.” was insightful.

    3
  13. Teve says:

    @EddieInCA: mind if i share that?

    1
  14. Robert D Evans says:

    Well stated. Thank you.

    1
  15. @Scott F.:

    While I sympathize with your resistance to what you see as a relentless call from commenters here for you to bash on the GOP, I know you can see that this dysfunction you clearly recognize in our government isn’t symmetrical. The contributions to African American disenfranchisement you list here are solely projects of the Republican Party and the inadequate representation has been by design, not by accident. A lot of voting behaviors may be baked-in partisan predilections, but it’s been the political project of the GOP (and the GOP alone) to claw the US back from universal suffrage ever since we supposedly achieved it with the VRA.

    I wholly concur, and have never been shy about saying so. I was quite conscious as to which party is almost exclusively responsible for the list I wrote above. (In fact, I was so conscious of who was responsible for that list as I wrote it that I semi-thought I had said so explicitly).

    The Republican Party has quite clearly has pushed what I can only call anti-democratic (note the small d) measures and actions. I agree, and I know I have said, that voter ID is blatantly an attempt to repress minority voters who also just happen to be Democratic voters.

    I do not have a problem criticizing Republicans. Indeed, they deserve a lot of criticism (especially in recent years). I have pushed back of late on some commenters not because of a need to be nice to the GOP, but rather there are times when certain political dynamics, if they are to be understood, are not about normative judgments of party positions or even about their specific behaviors.

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  16. @Barry:@Moosebreath: @Robert D Evans: Thanks.

    @EddieInCA:

    This isn’t about one man. It’s about a pattern that has to stop.

    100%

    And thanks for sharing your experiences.

    5
  17. An Interested Party says:

    A horrible toxic brew which inevitably leads to this outcome…first we have a racist, reactionary president who fans the flames of hate, then we have a pandemic that disproportionately hits ethnic minority communities, and now, yet another overt murder by the police of an innocent black man…frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t seen more of a violent reaction than what has actually happened…Eddie’s story is just one of too many to count, of completely innocent people who have been mistreated simply because of the color of their skin…it’s so fucking unfair, and the fact is that we will never advance as a country until we rid ourselves (if that’s even possible) of this country’s original sin…

    3
  18. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “In high school – 1975-1978 – I had a big ass afro, as was cool at the time. ”

    Hmm. When you talk about your age, I think “man, that dude is old.” And yet somehow we were in high school during the exact same years. (Berkeley High here.) How can that be?

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  19. EddieInCA says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Eddie’s story is just one of too many to count, of completely innocent people who have been mistreated simply because of the color of their skin…

    The irony is that I can easily pass for white. Reynolds has met me, as have a few others. I could pass for Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, European, Dutch or German. Yet, because I had an afro, I was “black”.

    What’s worse for me is seeing – repeatedly – what my film industry African Americans go through on a regular basis. Most white people truly have no idea how prevalent the racism and harassment continues to be. I have three first assistant director friends who are African American.

    I can’t tell you how many times our own security guards wouldn’t let them into Base Camp because they didn’t believe they were part of the crew – much less a !st AD.

    In S. Florida, our Key 2nd AD was actually arrested for trespassing while IN HIS OWN OFFICE ON THE WEEKEND, because the police didn’t believe him, despite his key card, working on his laptop in his office, and knowing the security code. I had to show up at Broward County jail to get him released. Turns our someone from another business called the cops on him, after seeing him walking into the building on a Sunday.

    In Georgia, our lead actor, was pulled over and threatened with arrest. His “crime”? Driving a brand new Cadillac Escalade in Buckhead. First question out of the Atlanta PD’s mouth was “Did you get this car selling drugs? Because no way a ni**er like you earned the cash to buy this car. This particular actor has been nominated for 3 Emmy Awards, 6 SAG Awards, and multiple NAACP Awards. He’s stopped regularly because he has an sick Escalade, and some cops don’t like seeing black men driving such nice cars.

    Today we have video. Without the video of George Floyd, those cops get away with it. Without the video, Amaud Aarbery’s killers get away with it. Hell, even with video (Eric Garner, Daniel Shaver) cops get away with it.

    I’m just f**king tired of it.

    17
  20. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    Born in 1960. I’ll be sixty next month. My high school was 10th, 11th, 12th grade, like most in LA. I know other schools have four year high schools. We had Junior High for grades 7, 8, and 9.

    I graduated high school at age 17. I turned 18 a month later.

    And, yeah, as my assistant likes to tell me, “Dude, you’re older than dirt!” I am old.

    Also, I think we were at UCLA around the same time, too.

    2
  21. Kurtz says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Thanks, Eddie. Jim Brown 32 has a wonderful post as well.

    In my posts I addressed directly to James, as well as my previous posts that were just links to various protest songs, I almost just flat out said, “Yeah, I condone rioting.”

    I don’t want to be in this position–live in a “Republic” that is so unresponsive that people have to form a mob to be heard.

    But I worked hard, after a long day of work in the sun, 100° heat index, to meet Dr. Joyner on his ground. I wanted to relax, and chill with my dog. Read some fiction or play a video game.

    Instead, I read through a court decision I hadn’t thought about in 20 years. I watched the bodycam footage of another MPD shooting. I looked at various reports on police shootings. I read the Minnesota statute defining manslaughter.

    I pointed out that the Court, even in 1896, considered the sanctity of the body in the context of a search to be of paramount concern.

    I wrapped all that into a post that should make anyone check their blind spots. But no matter how bright a Kel-Lite I use, it seems there are shades that can block it. But we all know why Kel-Lites are so beloved, and it ain’t for their luminous lamps.

    I did all this in an attempt to appeal to a conservative viewpoint on the rule of law. I was exhausted the next day when I had to again deal with August heat in May.

    All for nothing. Fuck it; burn it all down to the ground.

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  22. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I got so much to say, both personal and anecdotal, things I have heard, things I have seen, places I’ve been, people I’ve known… I grew up in the 60s and 70s, when things seemed to be coming apart at the seems. It hurts to see how far we haven’t come, when I, like it or not, was forced to.

    I just don’t understand, I am out of words. They are empty and pointless.

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  23. Kurtz says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Yeah, I have a lot to say and just think it’s pointless now.

    Maybe if more LEO acted like this one, there would a glimmer of hope.

    I read an article from CNN that Trump doesn’t want to address the nation directly, because the last time he did, the White House had to correct the stuff he said.

    The guy may win in November.

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  24. Gustopher says:

    When I see the pictures and video of people protesting in a pandemic, I cringe knowing that this is going to lead to a resurgence of covid cases and it’s going to hit the poor black communities more than anywhere else. The number of dead caused by these protests — even just the peaceful protests — is going to be more than George Floyd, and more than the police kill each year. And there’s every chance that the lockdowns are going to have to be put in place at full strength again, and that’s going to fall hardest on those same communities.

    Part of me wants to say “Can’t you guys wait for a bit?” There will be another horrific video coming along once we have covid under control, that we can all get worked up about, let’s just estimate the death and destruction caused by acting now versus the death and destruction accepted by waiting, and balance all that with the likelihood that these protests will be the ones that succeed in changing something while the others haven’t.

    I don’t like that part of me that wants to say that, but I think it’s right.

    But if pride and integrity and honor and respect means that this can’t wait, then for fvck’s sake, don’t just repeat the ineffective stuff from the past, at least try new things that will be ineffective. If police don’t live in the neighborhoods they patrol, go to where they live, and protest there — at their houses if need be. Don’t give them the option of retreating to the safety of their suburban communities away from the protests. Take a play from the far right playbook and hang them in effigy in their front yards, or back off just a little and reenact the deaths of blacks at the hands of police (with manakins, of course, as lynching cops would be counterproductive at this time) while gathering around singing “We shall overcome”. Bring cameras and live stream it. (The NPR tote bag crowd loves some “We shall overcome”)

    The riot gear isn’t as plentiful in the suburbs, and there’s plenty of parking. You all can probably car pool.

    Put the fvcking fear of God into these ignorant pigs, and give them every incentive to want to de-escalate.

    Make the death and destruction that comes from protesting in a pandemic worth it. Meanwhile, I’ll be sheltering in place.

    I’m angry and frustrated and disgusted and not in favor of riots, because I don’t see them as effective. Also, I’m mildly lactose intolerant, so looting the Cheesecake Factory is really not a draw for me.

    2
  25. de stijl says:

    Knowledge from experience is ten times sharper than a second hand report.

    Same on empathy.

    Our white neighbors lack the lived experience of what it feels like to be on the bottom rung and everybody above is stomping on your fingers.

    Many folks have a reaction enculurated into them that if black folks were less thin skinned everything would be all right. Don’t be uppity.

    The further away you grew up from downtown is statistically predictive on espousing that thought publicly.

    They literally have no idea of what being bottom rung feels like or how it it plays out day to day.

    Cops protect and serve some of us. When push comes to shove, cops always protect and serve the haves over the have nots.

    Justice is proportioned. If you pay more taxes you get more service and more protection.

    1
  26. de stijl says:

    @wr:

    Hear you.

  27. de stijl says:

    When police see their neighbors as the enemy and themselves as an occupation force…

    When politicians see advantage in discord…

    1
  28. Gustopher says:

    Watching news of police riots across the country, I cannot help but wonder: what would the start of a fascist takeover of America look like?

    – Police targeting the media: The President certainly does, and we see it at an individual level on the streets with riot police deliberately firing on reporters with rubber bullets (one photographer has been blinded in one eye, other reporters have been injured)

    – Criminalizing dissent: Declaring a nebulous belief, Antifa, a terrorist organization despite the lack of terrorism and organization seems like a step in that direction. But nothing at the local level, just police brutality. No mass arrests.

    – Overthrow of Democratic governors and mayors: Nothing, although the President’s tweets to liberate various states are definitely not good.

    – Cancelling elections: Not yet.

    So, we’re definitely not there, but this feels different from the last few times the country erupted into chaos because of police brutality. I’m glad Donald Trump is an old man in poor health hiding in his bunker right now, as that makes our democracy a little safer.

    And the Trump administration seems somehow incapable of connecting the rot at the top with the rot in the people on the ground in the states. It would be hard to have a fascist takeover without that level of control.

    Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this might be the time to go get a gun and learn to shoot it. So that as November rolls by, if the elections are cancelled or voided… well, best to be prepared. Or if the rubber bullets the police are using on the people they are supposed to be protecting are replaced with real bullets. I mean, big obvious things.

    Maybe it’s just that everything is happening with the context of a pandemic, but this doesn’t feel like the usual police brutality in response to protests over police brutality. This feels like the precursor to something worse.

    Gun ranges tend to be very Trumpy though. It would feel a little odd to learn gun safety and shooting from someone that I might be shooting at six months from now. Not to mention a little rude.

    3
  29. de stijl says:

    @Gustopher:

    There is not a compelling reason to go down the gun route. Reconsider.

    It is is protest and a police response.

    Basically fronting.

    Mostly performative.

    Escalating with firearms does not help.

    1
  30. wr says:

    @EddieInCA: “Also, I think we were at UCLA around the same time, too.”

    Definitely in high school at the same time. (Born in 59…) I was at UCLA for grad school, so basically 82-84…

    1
  31. Tyrell says:

    Police reform:
    1- Drop the military persona and garb.

    2- Use more technology.

    3- Have more training in safer interventions and apprehensions.

    4- Partner with the local community. Help form an association that includes local schools, businesses, churches, recreation leagues, and leaders. Any trouble makers who come in trying to sell dope, harass the ladies, or start some kind of racket should be shown the quickest way out.

    5- Education: work with local universities and colleges in regards to training and criminology programs.

    6- Training in psychological techniques used by the F.B.I. I don’t recall any accounts of the F.B.I. abusing people.*

    Our local police (4 ½ officers) are on a first-name basis with most of the people. They see themselves as helpers and friends. There is a trust relationship here.

    *One of my favorite places in Washington is the F.B.I. building. I had always wanted to see Hoover in person. In school, we learned a lot about his career and accomplishments. Even as the director he would often grab a sidearm and go out on a case with his agents.
    The F.B.I. sent me some reprints of old wanted posters of John Dillinger, Machine Gun Kelly, Baby Face Nelson, and Alvin Karpis. I had those on a wall in my room.

    Watch “Criminal Minds” (CBS), and “Sherlock” (PBS)

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