You, Me, and Police Shootings: The Truth

“The Second Amendment is for everyone.” I have to repeat the mantra of fellow former US Marine, gun rights activist, and podcaster Tony Simon.  I know people that don’t realize they are free. They believe that the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights are subjective. They have allowed injustices to occur because they feel that things don’t apply to them.

A right delayed is a right denied – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

But where are we collectively as gun rights advocates when it comes to the recent police shootings of Black Men With Guns?  I had a different draft post before I read this article from The Rolling Stones Magazine.

Here’s an excerpt from The “Good Guy With A Gun” is Never Black.”

The lack of ability to imagine black people as heroes may be one explanation for these shootings. That was one of the countless things that James Baldwin was right about. American fiction is a significant contributor to our ideas of heroism both on the page and onscreen, and as the author both wrote and said in 1965, “It comes as a great shock to see Gary Cooper killing off the Indians, and although you are rooting for Gary Cooper, that the Indians are you.” Regardless of color, we all are trained from an early age not merely to synchronize whiteness and heroism, but are fed narratives that discourage us from forming any other conclusion. Barack Obama wasn’t enough to change that, to say nothing of Lando Calrissian, Roger Murtaugh or Axel Foley. Not even T’Challa from Black Panther or Chris from Get Out. A childhood of seeing men of color as cannon fodder for Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and other assorted Good White Guys With Guns has an effect on folks.

Jamil Smith

This article made me remember that I have been here before.  I have thought many times since 1986 about the possibility of being shot myself by a law enforcement officer even after graduating from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.  Being pro-gun, African American and a staunch supporter of gun rights doesn’t make me immune.

The accidental death of an African American man in Alabama by a police officer is not news you want to read on Thanksgiving holidays, much less have happen at all.  As a responsible gun owner where should we be in this conversation?

If you are a Black person, the lens in which you look at the recent shootings of Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, and Jemel Roberson can be different.

I know police are not shooting African Americans for fun and profit.    This stuff still bother us, regardless of color.  Blaming the police broadly is a “cop-out.”

If you are a law enforcement officer  I would dare to say that you hate to hear about this,  knowing that it will make your job even harder than it already is.

Let’s look at the police.  

The police have a difficult job.  They are called to act before all the facts are known in dangerous situations.  They have to basically jump into a crowd of strangers and figure out the good guys from the bad guys.  When they get it wrong someone dies.

Have you ever heard of “Qualified Immunity.”  It is a legal defense where government officials are held harmless if they followed established procedures. It is that established procedure that will be exonerate or incarcerate the police officer in question.  The details won’t make it out of court.  You only will see the drama.  Folks will protest without knowing what was said in court.  Even what you can see on video isn’t ironclad.  There are always circumstances.

I am not excusing anything that has happened.

Police departments that can afford it use simulators to train when to shoot and when not to shoot. This reality based training is extremely useful in exposing weaknesses in police policy and in officer training.  I know for a fact that training is the first thing cut out from a departments budget.  And some people shouldn’t be police officers.

The truth is, you can’t fix stupid.

We hold law enforcement to a different standard but it is not fair.  They are still just people.

The Media

The Media is challenged to report on what will get the most amount of eyes. As consumers, we will change the channel if there is no exciting news. Fear sells.  We like to believe the worst of people before we watch good news so the media broadcasts daily, imagery of dangerous black men, criminals, using and dealing drugs, over-sexed, unemployable, idle and the epitome of death and doom. It is amplified by pop music and underground loving culture and ignorance, that promotes the negative stereotypes.  We have no problem with that.  That is why is it reported on a loop.   It is sensational. Its media worthy.  It divides.  It sells.

Black people have already started the campaign against all police.  That is wrong.

Fear. False Expectation Appearing Real.

 

The racism that everybody always brings up is really based on a fear of loss.  Almost everything we do is based on the fear of loss.  We buy stuff we don’t need because of it.  White supremacy is based on the fear of losing the so-called Whiteprivilege.  Fear of loss touches on almost everything you can name.  This is all because of the psychology of fear.  We are not as free as our Constitution allows.

We fear those different than us.  What was once a defense mechanism is now a flaw.

We are conditioned to fear.  We learn fear.  We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid that a black man will kill us.  The myth of the predatory Black man has been used to instill fear in whites and to justify their brutality and violence against Black individuals, communities and continents since the 1600’s. The narrative has been passed down from one generation to the next and is still used to underwrite injustice against Black people.

We project this fear.  Have you ever heard of projection?  That is when one accuses someone of having traits they refuse to acknowledge in themselves.

The behavior of people around us also can influence our responses to threats. You ever see people run because everyone else is running?  It is a smart response to crime prevention.

“Fear has a certain contagious feature to it, so the fear in others can elicit fear in ourselves. It’s conditioning.  We come into the world knowing how to be afraid, because our brains have evolved to deal with nature.”

The truth is this is sad.  This has happened before.  Fear and perception cloud our judgements.  Until I started to look “older” I used to cause quite a few people to move fast across the street, lock car doors when I approached or clutch their wallets/purses.  I have been followed in the stores.  I have been accused of “casing” a place while shopping.  This is our society.  I know that all it takes is one bad apple to make us accuse thousands of people in any group.

WTH do we do now?  How can we stop this?  How can we keep our nation together?  How do we stop it from happening tomorrow?

I want to hear your opinions.    But really think about what I said.   The tragic killing of people that scare us, isn’t new.  Don’t restate the problem?   What do you suggest we do to solve this?

 

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One Reply to “You, Me, and Police Shootings: The Truth”

  1. Hello Ken!
    I want to give my thoughts on this article and to answer the question as to what do we do now. But let me unpack this a bit further.
    Why are poc or black people threats? And can’t possibly be identified as good guys? Maybe I have not seen any communication on this topic, but when a black person or person of color is shot by police in error, why do you not hear anything from NRA or pro 2A communities? Usually it’s absolute silence. It’s stated in the post that we often don’t see the full disclosure of facts or evidence on the news just the drama. Why is that information not made public? Why could a lawyer/DA suppress evidence that could exonerate a person have the ability to do so under the law, just to get a conviction? I’ll try to stay on track.
    The problem is there is no accountability. I’m all for a police officer not being blamed for a shooting when the evidence holds up and not police investigating police. Prior to cell phones the defense was, “I thought he had a gun, or I feared for my life”, case closed. Even now with cell phones you still see the same thing over and over whether the suspect has a gun and more importantly when the suspect does not. Police sign up to serve and protect everyone equally and from the space that most AA’s live in, we don’t see equality policing. There are thousands of videos where a non-black person, degrade, disrespect, humiliate police offers and because they know the law, they may go to jail, but the go home. When a person of color does or behaves in a fraction of that same response or attitude, the police officers response is altogether different and that person may not make it home. There is not the same level of latitude for poc in the very same sense, but with much less actual attitude or action. I know you have some that will say, well you did not see the whole video, I’m specifically speaking of videos from dash cam to 1st person videos. Moving on. My point is there is no accountability. When there is a wrongful death, what happens? Tax payors pay the bill for this behavior. It’s been hundreds of millions of monies paid by each state to settle these cases, yet the police officer often moves on. If they are fired and that’s rarely the case, they have the ability to move over to the next county and get hired on there. With the technology we have and research we have available, can we not identify those police officers who have a history of poor policing and rid the department of those officers? When other officers report those officers, are they not put in the line of fire or not get assistance when the call goes out for back up? I know first-hand that it does. Black police officers have to choose blue over black and remain silent in many cases right along with their white counterparts. What has to happen, accountability has to happen and that should not be the responsibility of tax payors to pay the cost of officers who can’t seem to get it right. Let’s talk about the fear…Why does it seem that poc should be feared more than the next man? Is it the media? Who controls the media? Black folks? Surely not, so the narrative is that black folks should be feared which ultimately leads to deaths of poc. I’m sure someone will bring up Chicago…Do people not commit crime in the area in which they live? Of course there are countless studies that speak to the fact that in areas where there are no poc, whites kill white at a higher rate, but if media controls the narrative, we’ll never hear that. Police need to live in communities they police, don’t send a scared kid to the “hood” when he is afraid and has hate in his heart which is displayed by his behavior and his actions on the force, but often there is a blind eye turned to that. He’s human, but he signed up and has a responsibility that he patrols. When you have rhetoric coming from the commander in chief speaking in a manner that incites hate, and fear, and ignorance, attitudes are a reflection of leadership. And unfortunately only those whom he disrespects regularly are being affected. There has to be real accountability, just today there is an article in which 4 cops are being investigated from beating a cop in Ferguson and trying to cover it up. That’s the problem. Botham Jean was in his own home and after the story changed 5 times, it was stated that he died because he did not comply. If you break into my home, and I don’t know who you are, I should just comply, really? As long as tax payors foot the bill, and pensions and jail time for officers are options, nothing will change. Lastly, District Attorneys who don’t just line up with the police department and actually hold officers accountable is an option, but now we’re talking politics and that’s a completely different conversation. Law abiding poc should not die for doing what whites do. Yet, even a large population of whites also remain silent.
    But Chicago.
    Whataboutism!
    I support 2A, but what we see at the ground level is not that same support unless you have made other people “feel” safe, then you’re welcomed in. If you’re radical, pro poc, the government somehow labels you as a “terrorist” group.

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