“We also have to have Organized Effort against Gangs. They are “Not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of Kids called Super-Predators. No conscious. No empathy. We can talk about why they ended up that way but “First” We have to “Bring them to Heel!” Hilary Clinton January 1996
On the evening of July 5, 2016 Alton Sterling was fatally shot during an altercation initiated by two Baton Rouge, LA police officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake. The officers responded to a call from someone reporting that he had been threatened by an armed man selling CDs outside of a convenience store. Sterling was wrestled to the ground by two officers and shot dead during the scuffle.
On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was fatally shot by Officer Jeronimo Yanez, in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. A recently released audio recording of the radio transmission between officers and police dispatch reveal that Castile was racially profiled. “I’m going to stop a car…I have reason to pull it over…The driver looks more like one of our (robbery) suspects, just ‘cause of the wide-set nose…” Moments later Philando Castile is shot dead by Yanez while complying with Yanez’s request for his driver’s license and vehicle registration.
On the evening of July 7, 2016, allegedly in response to the two previous shootings Micah Johnson, killed five law enforcement officers in Dallas during a protest over the twomost recent recent fatal police shootings. It is reported that Johnson tried to take refuge in a parking garage and exchanged gunfire with police, who later killed him with a robot-delivered bomb.
As a result of these senseless killings America once again finds itself conflicted. Americans are asking, “How do we resolve these conflicts between the African American community and police?” “How do we establish rules of engagement between the police and the community?” “How can this happen in America in 2016?”
We must separate the executions of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile from the murders of the five Dallas police officers by Mica Johnson. Why? The answer is simple; Sterling and Castile, along with Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Akai Gurley, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, et al, were not convicted by a jury of their peers of committing crimes. They were summarily executed by police officers –agents of the State – acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Similar to the shooting of children at Sandy Hook and the murders of black parishioners in South Carolina, the murder of the 5 Dallas law enforcement officials was a horrific act carried out by a mentally disturbed individual, Mica Johnson. He took it upon himself to kill innocent police officers in an attempt to “settle” a historic score that is impossible for an individual heinous act to reconcile.
Ironically, according to Shaun King in the New York Daily News, by May of 2016, 71% of police shootings this yearhave not been committed by the Mica Johnson’s of the world but have been (like Sandy Hook and Mother Bethel) committed by white men. An interesting data point that Rudy Giuliani and other conservatives don’t’ want to discuss.
Many in mainstream American media are using the murders of the Dallas police officers to offset or shift the focus away from the extra-judicial killings of African Americans by the police. They are attempting to delegitimize or misrepresent the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement as an anti-police movement. BLM is not an anti-police movement. It’s an anti-bad police movement. Frederick Douglas said, “every man will say slavery is wrong, for him.” What community does not want to stop being shot down in the street by the police like dogs?
To find solutions to these issues we must start from a historic reality that white Americans and too many African Americas do not want to deal with. Slavery.
As Ms. Ruby Sales and Dr. Gerald Horne have correctly stated, these are not new or isolated events. Slavery is the institution that helped to undergird the foundations of this country! Slave states created slave patrols; precursors to modern day police forces. They were constructed to routinely monitor, surveil and oppress the slave population. Today, like the slave patrols before them, modern police forces are still engaging in the same activity within the African American community. Part of the ethos of our country since its decision to enter into the “peculiar” institution of slavery has been the fear of reprisal from slaves. Therefore, one of the main unspoken duties of many police forces is not to protect and serve but to protect white Americans from the decedents of their former slaves.
In response to this long and sordid history in 1951William Patterson and Ossie Davis presented a petition before the UN charging the US with genocide against its black nationals. In it they “called upon the UN to take notice of the fact that even a cursory examination would reveal the savage racist policy that determines the attitude and reaction of city, state, and federal governments in relations with black nationals.” They called this a “criminal policy.”In 1968 the Kerner Commission reported that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion.
The current spate of extra-judicial killings of mainly unarmed African Americans is a continuation of this history that’s deeply rooted in the attempt to maintain the social order and culture of white supremacy. Once we come to an understanding of this historic context we can then move forward to developing practical solutions.
Hilary Clinton said, “We also have to have Organized Effort against Gangs. They are Not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often the kinds of Kids called Super-Predators. No conscious. No empathy.”
Today we also have gangs of police officers who are executing law abiding citizens simply because they “sense” a threat or those citizens fit a profile. No conscious, no empathy – Super Predators.
Here’s the first thing that can be done that will make the biggest difference. The Blue Wall of Silence needs to become the Blue Wall of Intolerance. Police officials need to create an environment where good cops will stop standing idly by in silence as bad cops reek havoc in our communities. The good cops need to create a standard of intolerance for the bad cops who are acting like an occupying force and treating those who they have sworn to protect and serve like enemy combatants.
Second, prosecutors need to bring manslaughter charges against these bad cops and prosecutors need to select juriesfrom a more diverse jury pool in order to increase the possibility of convictions. When a police officer is shotthat fact is an extenuating factor in the sentencing of the perpetrator. Why? Because shooting a police officer is also considered to be an attack on the established order of the State. When a police officer murders a citizen while performing his/her duties, that should be an extenuating circumstance as well since that police officer is acting under the “color” of the authority of the state.
Contrary to the conservative rhetoric, it’s the police against the black community – but it always has been. Hold these murdering cops accountable. That’s how you start to rebuild trust with the community!
Dr. Wilmer Leon is the Producer/ Host of the nationally broadcast call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Wilmer Leon,” on SiriusXM Satellite radio channel 126. Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. www.twitter.com/drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com
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