I keep thinking there will be some letup, some awakening among cops, and this ongoing murder and violence against black men will taper off. And two days later there is yet another inexcusable atrocity. It’s hard to have faith it will ever end. But why doesn’t it?
Is it because these murderous cops are just violent bastards? Is it because they are racists let out from the Army with PTSD? Is it because they are stressed out, frustrated, and abused? What is it?
Are they bad apples? I don’t think so. It looks to me like there is a racist culture among white cops everywhere. Not all of them, of course, but too many to be one bad apple in the barrel.
I keep thinking there will be some letup.
Nobody should be harboring ugly attitudes toward a whole class of people, but this is especially unforgivable in someone charged with protecting us—all of us.
If these guys (almost always white guys) are violent sociopaths they should never have been allowed to become cops. Is it that police recruits are not vetted? Surely they are, because at the least the public must be reassured they are not unstable or have a violent criminal record. If they have become violent sociopaths they should be reassigned, retired, or fired.
The same applies if they are racists. Although I have come around to thinking we are all racist to some extent, no matter what race we are, it is quite another thing to cultivate an uncontrollable rage toward someone solely because of skin color, and to act violently on it. It’s unacceptable for anyone, but is especially egregious in a public servant.
Are they stressed out, and simply lose it? PTSD? This is a bit more understandable, but not much. There are collections of videos showing cops beating up and abusing people who present no threat to them at all. The unending deaths we are called upon to witness in online and news videos continues to shock, and virtually none of those that I have seen show any danger or stress to the cop at all. Cop car pulls up. Cop gets out. Five seconds later cop shoots and kills a man standing by himself with a knife. A kid is playing with a toy gun by himself at a playground and is killed seconds after a cop car pulls up. A guy is talking on his cell, and is drilled full of holes while carrying a packaged BB-gun to the checkout. Guy is selling cigarettes. Guy is stopped for bad taillight. On and on.
None of the deaths that I have seen
show any danger or stress to the cop at all.
Someone wise said that if you allow yourself to get mad at someone who is mad, your are making his problems your own. This goes double for cops. A real professional would not let himself be drawn into a rash act because he lost his temper, even when dealing with the most violent and nasty characters there are out there—and there are plenty. His very life depends on being cool and rational. In fact, calmly dealing with someone who is out of control is usually more effective than violent force anyway. Deadly force is rarely necessary. Where the US deaths from police shootings number in the thousands, they total single digits in all of Europe.
But there are far too many instances of cops who don’t even try to keep their short fuse unlit. In The Divide, Matt Taibbi tells of a young NYC man smoking in front of his own house when a scruffy plainclothes cop suddenly punched and grabbed him and yelled in his face, “What the fuck are you doing? What the fuck are you doing?” Three of them then beat the guy up and threw him on the sidewalk. As he was on the sidewalk a cop car pulled up, and the young man thought he was rescued, until he realized they were part of the assault. They planted a roach on him and brought him in to the station. Needless to say, he was severely traumatized by the entire episode, which continued for several days with jailing, and resulted in phony charges that were eventually dismissed. This guy was white. He would be dead if he were black. Can there be any even remotely realistic excuse for such police behavior?
These bad cops need to find a new line of work.
Being a city dweller, I’ve seen a few arrests on the streets, and I’ve been proud of the San Francisco cops I’ve seen in action. They behaved professionally, and the situation remained under control and calm. Late at night, when the creeps load up and crawl out from under their slimy rocks, things are not always so easy. But even in tolerant San Francisco there have been instances of overt racism that simply should never happen.
The percentage of these out-of-control violent cops is still low. Even so, we have become a new kind of police state. If we are to remain a democracy there must be changes. These bad cops need to find a new line of work. Out-of-control cops are simply unacceptable, and must be punished.