Monday, September 26, 2016

Charlotte's Tangled Web (Monday Post #1)

As a resident of the state of North Carolina, I guess I would be remiss if I didn't comment on recent events in Charlotte NC surrounding the shooting of a black man by police officers. It is an incident that led to several days of protests; in the early days after the shooting, protests boiled over into violent conflagrations. Afterwards, these violent reactions have ebbed but the wounds are still raw and the situation in Charlotte remains uneasy. 

The early narrative of the tragic death of Keith Scott was that of an unarmed black man killed in an encounter with police that spin fatally out of control. Scott's family insists that Scott did not have a gun. If anything was in his hand, it was a book; Scott was described as an avid reader. 

However, Charlotte police maintained that Scott did indeed have a gun and was holding it when he was approached by officers. Refusing to comply with instructions from police and perceiving Scott as a threat, one of the officers shot him. 

Subsequent releases of information, statements and videos from both the family of Keith Scott and the Charlotte police have done little to provide clarity. Did Scott have something in his hand? If it was a gun, did the situation as it was unfolding require the use of lethal force? 

If all of this has a disturbing ring of familiarity to it, it's because it is distressingly familiar. We've seen this scenario played out in one more or another time and time again, in Missouri, Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina, Minnesota, so on and so on and so on. Black men dying at the hands of police officers. Hell, just days before the events in Charlotte, a police officer shot an unarmed black man in Oklahoma. 

But while these stories are consistent in the skin color of the dead, there are variations to these numerous tales that tend the muddy the waters. Sometimes the black man was unarmed and sometimes he was armed. At least one tragedy involved a black man who had a gun in his possession, was making sure the police officer in question knew he had the gun so to avoid a bad scene and was shot for his trouble. 

Sometimes the black man was engaged in a criminal activity, sometimes not. Sometimes the black man was resistant to the officer and sometimes he was cooperative. It's the inconsistencies that some have used as a foundation for decrying the frustrations of the African American community over its relations with police officers. 

These disparate facts and conditions makes quite the tangled web of events like the shooting in Charlotte. Because of these complications, we can't attest such actions by the police to racism.  

And to that argument, I call bullshit. 

Here's the thing: the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color is toxic and too many people are dying as a result. And let me be blunt: the roots of the toxicity are buried deep on both sides of this equation. But only one side of that equation has power and authority with the use of force to back it up. 

And whether the people of color dying at the hands of the police are culpable in anyway for their own demise, the basic facts remain that too many citizens are dying at the hands of the police. And too many of those citizens are black men.  

Another thing to address is the reaction of the African American community to the Charlotte shooting and other reactions to that. Yes, protests erupted in violence and rage in the days following this incident. Yes, violence and rage never solves anything. 

But sometimes violence and rage is the only response left. As I wrote here about violent protests in Baltimore, when the same shit keeps happening over and over and over again, there's going to come a breaking point. That's not a racial thing, that's a damn human thing. There's a point when being treated unjustly and unfairly cannot be tolerated anymore. Sometimes it takes a powerful display of passion (and yes, that includes anger) to get attention and action towards injustice and unfairness. 

Just as these shooting events can become tangled webs, so too are the causes of the current state between black people and the police. And when one more dead person has been added to the tally, the impulse is less to untangle that web one strand at a time and more to just knock the whole damn web to the ground. 

Whether the current status quo ends with ice or fire, the main thing is this: it needs to end. 


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Thanks for dropping by. Another new post is coming up on the blog in about 5 hours as we take another whack at my favorite target of hatred and disdain. 

Yes, it's the return of Ted Cruz Is A Lying Fuck Bastard and it goes live later today. 

Until then, remember to be good to one another.  

No Matter the Cost, Win!

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