“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
The past few days have been terrible for us all to witness, but especially for those close to the events or who otherwise feel a strong connection to the victims. First, there were the controversial shootings of two black men by police officers — Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA, followed by Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, MN, a day or two later. Then, a black man decided to get some revenge by shooting several police officers after a peaceful #BlackLivesMatter march in Dallas, TX. Many, both the informed and the uninformed, have spoken or written about these events from all different perspectives. I wasn’t sure I had anything to add, or even wanted to, yet I felt like I should post something. (I was also tempted to write about the non-prosecution of Hillary’s Emailgate, but I’m even more sick of that subject.)
Regarding the shootings of Sterling and Castile, I know it’s easy to get angry, on the one hand, or defensive, on the other hand. My instincts fall somewhere in the middle. The only thing I want to say, though it is probably too late, is to urge everyone to NOT jump to conclusions, either about racist motivations by the cops or about whether either shooting was justified. Don’t assume it was justified just because the victim had a record, but also don’t assume he was an innocent victim shot for no “good” reason. Even now, despite various disturbing videos and revealed rap sheets and what not, we still only have partial information. Sometimes, a thing is just what it looks like, but often it isn’t.
We like to THINK we have sufficient information to play judge & jury in these cases — I’m speaking to myself, too –, and that’s exactly what certain people in the media and certain politicians and activists want us to do. But, we need to quit throwing accusations around, wait for more evidence to come to light, and let the investigations run their respective courses. (Of course, those who automatically distrust law enforcement and/or the justice system are rarely satisfied, particularly if the official conclusions are not the same as theirs — witness the Michael Brown case, for example.)
Beyond that, I’m not going to get into the specifics of the cases or speculate on my own. I just wanted to post a few videos and article links that I thought were helpful and/or informative. Nothing inflammatory (though it may not be what you want to hear/read), nothing graphic, no recriminations (maybe later), no I-told-ya-sos, etc.
First, here’s a brief article w/ video that give helpful advice re traffic stops:
The second video is a brief Fox News interview with SC Sen. Tim Scott regarding his feelings about the recent shootings:
This third video is a bit longer (9+ min.) but is a very good, on-the-street interview by MSNBC with a black man, Kellon Nixon, who was at the march in Dallas with his 5-year-old son and witnessed the shootings there firsthand. He had some very good personal observations and reflections…
I thought this article by Ryan Bomberger had some very good points to make, some of which I touched on above.
Finally, this last is a piece by Heather MacDonald, who is one of the most knowledgeable on the relevant research. First, here’s a quote:
“The “unarmed” label is literally accurate, but it frequently fails to convey highly-charged policing situations. In a number of cases, if the victim ended up being unarmed, it was certainly not for lack of trying…. One can debate the tactics used and the moment when an officer would have been justified in opening fire, but these cases are more complicated and morally ambiguous than a simple “unarmed” classification would lead a reader to believe…. The Post’s cases do not support the idea that the police have a more demanding standard for using lethal force when confronting unarmed white suspects.”
And, here’s the link: “Black and Unarmed: Behind the Numbers”
While there are many things not addressed here, I hope you find at least one of the preceding videos or articles of value in thinking about these tragedies and also taking a realistic look at the facts in re to some of the claims made in this and similar circumstances.
Take care, everyone!