Kill (Or At Least Arrest/Indict/Assault/Blame/Teargas) The Messengers, All Of 'Em
With protests and outrage growing over the very real injustices represented by the deaths of Mssrs. Brown, Garner, Rice et al for too long, you'd think law enforcement might focus on rethinking, revising, rebuilding trust with communities that are so clearly and universally feeling disenfranchised. Instead, they've lashed out. To a list making the rounds of things that happen when a black person is senselessly killed in this country - cue protests, media smears, victim blaming, legal maneuvering, whites arguing not all whites are racists, and, finally, the killer walking free, thus reaffirming the reality that the most fool-proof way to survive in America is to be white - add police indulging in a frenzy of overreaction and revenge almost as egregious as the initial acts that sparked the fury. Change is hard; defensive rage is easy.
Thus, in the last couple of weeks, law enforcement or police have done this: Convinced a grand jury to indict on what he says is a trumped-up gun charge 22-year-old Ramsey Orta, the guy who filmed the choking murder of Eric Garner, on the same day that another grand jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the cop who killed him; blamed Garner for his own death and New York's mayor for "throwing them under the bus" though they're blameless; arrested a group of New York City rabbis sitting in and reciting the Mourner's Kaddish for Garner and other blacks killed by NYPD cops; tear-gassed demonstrators and beat up journalists in Berkeley protesting those deaths; on the day of Tamir Rice's murder by a cop previously found unfit for duty on a police force just found to be grossly unfit, tackled and handcuffed his distraught 14-year-old sister and threatened to arrest his mother, according to a lawsuit filed by the family; consistently harrassed, intimidated and brought exaggerated charges against Ferguson protesters who say they've been increasingly made to feel like "an endangered species”; and got prosecutors to charge a 20-year-old high-profile community activist and member of the Ferguson Commission with assault for brushing up against a city marshall twice his size during a demonstration.
This week, the St. Louis prosecutor's office brought a third-degree misdemeanor assault charge against Rasheen Aldridge - 5 feet 4 inches tall, 110 pounds - for touching and possibly inadvertently pushing a massive marshall as he and other demonstrators tried to enter St. Louis City Hall. The supposedly public building had been put on lockdown due to fears (really?) that someone had deadly spray paint, with which they planned to express their displeasure over the failure to hold accountable the murderer of Mike Brown. In video, you can see the small, serene Aldridge in the midst of the melee, trying to quiet fellow protesters after the marshall shoves him out of his way. A couple of days later, Aldridge went to the White House with the rest of the Ferguson task force, in the role of "a kid that's been there," to talk with Obama; later, he said he was "disappointed" by the President. The prosecutor's office defended their charging him, arguing they had a duty to evaluate police evidence "when somebody has violated the law." Aldridge's lawyer called the charge "bogus."
These kinds of things - "strange fruit bearing on a multitude of blood-soaked trees" - have been going on for a long time: The NAACP Legal Defense Fund just released the names of 76 unarmed men and women of color killed by police since 1999. A timely look back at the saga of George Jackson tells the same story, and another relevant one: When Jackson was sent to prison in 1960 - for “one year to life” for a $70 robbery - there were 200,000 people in prison in the U.S. In 2011, there were 2.3 million, with 5 million more under the long hard arm of the "justice system" either on parole or probation. Most were black or brown. The enduring legal, penal, economic and educational disparities behind those numbers are now fuelling a nationwide firestorm. They're also inspiring a new generation of activists who see beyond their current frustration and anger - "Our memory hums as our ancestors call out to us" - to demand change that's unarguably long overdue. No change can come from police and law enforcement simply doubling down on what has been. New statistics show that abusive cops are in fact the minority in many departments: If all police don't want to be viewed as racist sociopaths, they'll have to stop acting like, defending, and twisting the so-called justice system to accomodate the racist sociopaths among them. They'll also have to stop blaming, beating and killing the messenger. Because this time, it looks like the messenger is here to stay, and "the real grand jury is all of us."
Rasheen Aldridge, center in grey cap, "assaulting" the marshall.
The Rude Pundit knows all the arguments, valid and not valid: "You don't know all the facts," "Garner shouldn't have resisted," "Cops have to deal with the worst of humanity." And he's not going to pretend to know the effect of confronting the bullshit that the police see every day. But he's pretty sure that he wouldn't be out there, offering knee-jerk defense of someone who so obviously to so many people, at the very least, violated protocol and was indifferent to someone's humanity. He's especially sure he that he wouldn't defend a guy whose prior actions against black men have been problematic, at best, and outright illegal, at worst.
There is a huge trust gap that is not unjustified. One cop killing one man, even unintentionally, undoes a million positive actions. A pattern of harassment, let alone killing of non-whites? Man, that takes a fuckton of work to overcome. You gotta make that population trust you again.
Instead of whining about being thrown under the bus or putting up the blue wall of silence or whatever the fuck they're calling it these days, it's incumbent upon police officials to demonstrate that there are some things they will not tolerate. The police need to show they believe injustice doesn't lead to justice. And individual cops might not be able to speak out until they're off the force, like Hudson, but they sure as hell should be wanting their leaders to demand change, too.
Or you can retrench, insult, and bully. That's worked well for the police so far - See more at: http://www.rudepundit.blogspot.com/#sthash.YDBwf6WX.dpuf
Here's video of the protest and "assault." It's followed by the over-the-top response of police in riot gear wielding pepper spray who move to break up a demonstration they declare unlawful because some protesters "made contact" with them. What's wrong with this picture? Almost everything.