Someone like Rudy Giuliani doesn’t pay attention to this sort of thing, but black groups have been focused on so-called “black-on-black” crime since Martin Luther King started to concentrate on the problem of poverty in black communities. Violence is rooted in poverty, and no “black-on-black” crime is ever committed simply because the victim was black. It’s not a hate crime. It’s an economic issue, just as the drugs in those neighborhoods is an economic issue. People like #Giuliani have little interest in resolving those issues or improving overall quality of life for people in those communities but in “containing” a potential threat to the communities he does care about. The style of policing and governance is distinctly different with the latter than the former, and the latter is what we saw during his much-hailed-by-the-middle-class administration. But #Giuliani does black people a favor when he dismisses violence against blacks by telling us to “clean up our neighborhoods” or “you’re killing each other,” which is why “white officers” have to police those neighborhoods as they do. He is at least being honest that these communities aren’t considered part of the America in which he resides. I’ve been telling people this for years. America’s leaders view Ferguson through the same lens as they view Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s been the loudest American message to the black community since blacks stopped being an American commodity and became, through America’s perception, as an American burden.
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Cops: The Reality Show…
After the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, there’s been talk about police officer wearing cameras. It seems like a reasonable idea but as I recall, the Rodney King beating was videotaped and Tarantino could have filmed the Amadou Diallo shooting for all the good it would’ve done.
Fifteen years later, it’s still hard to imagine what Diallo could have done to stay alive. He ran from officers in street clothes at almost 1 a.m. He raised his hands but held up his wallet (something you might do if you think you’re being mugged). During the shooting, one of the officers tripped backyard, which made them think he was shot so they continued shooting Diallo, so.. oops, I guess.
I would have done everything Diallo did. I thought so in 1999 and I still think so. Plain-clothes officers stopping someone on the street late at night seems perilous. Should I really trust someone saying, “Stop! Police!” if they’re not in a uniform? And it’s too dark to see if their badge wasn’t retrieved from a one-armed bandit? Running away is what any reasonable person, especially a woman alone, would have done. The officers stopped Diallo because he “fit the profile” of a serial rapist in the area. I’m sure I also fit that profile at the time.
Fear is the one emotion black men are not allowed. Both in this case, the Sean Bell shooting in 2006, and Trayvon Martin’s killing in 2012, the idea that the dead black male might have been scared for his life is never considered. What only matters is how afraid they made their shooters.
So, film all you want, but until that changes, I doubt anything else will.
Posted by Stephen Robinson on August 20, 2014 in Social Commentary
Tags: Amadou Diallo, Ferguson, Michael Brown