Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Should people stage protests when police officers are killed in the line of duty?

Adam Johnson addresses that question in the none-too-subtlety titled Dear Idiots On My Facebook Feed: Here's Why Calling for Protests Over Slain Cops Makes No Sense AlterNet 05/10/2015.

This one line from his piece sums it up well: "It’s simple: one doesn't protest something the system already agrees is bad."

As Johnson points out, people who grump about why there are no protests over cops being killed are making a political point, trying to use this to discredit or demean protests over police murdering unarmed black people.

The typical response among white people to such incidents is, at best, one of non-concern, or only momentary concern.

On the other hand, white people are happy to post videos like this celebrating police in general. In this video, a group of white people, mostly women, with a couple of token minorities thrown in, are seen individually writing thank you signs with Sharpies on pieces of brown cardboard (?!) expressing their general thanks to the police for existing. One white cop is seen being adored by a white, blond woman. Another is shown walking around a room with kids' toys.

To all our law enforcement friends around the world - we see you. LIKE and SHARE this amazing video. #weseeyou #thinblueline (Humanizing the Badge)
Posted by 2015 World Police & Fire Games on Tuesday, February 3, 2015

In other words, the lives of police officers matter to white people.

The lives of unarmed black people gunned down by police for no good reason? Not so much.

Two police officers in Hattiesburg MS were shot and killed during a traffic stop this past weekend, one white and one African-American, Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. It made nationwide and internationals news. ('I've been praying it's not true' Daily Mail [UK] 05/09/2015) Here's one article from yesterday: Jack Madison, Athens [AL] police chief offers support to Hattiesburg PD WSFA 12 05/12/2015. The article notes, "Coincidentally, this is National Police Week. Thursday at 5 p.m., the public is invited to the Limestone County Courthouse for a memorial service honoring the nine officers killed in the line of duty in the county."

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently attended a ceremony honoring police officers killed in the line of duty: Jeremy White, AM Alert: Jerry Brown and others honor fallen peace officers Sacramento Bee 05/03/2015. White reports:

In the executive branch, Gov. Jerry Brown will be back in Sacramento to honor 13 peace officers slain in the line of duty last year. Family members will meet with Brown before heading to the 11 a.m. ceremony at the California Peace Officers Memorial, where Attorney General Kamala Harris and Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will also be in attendance.

Also being commemorated are five long-ago deaths. The most recent honoree, a South San Francisco cop, died in 1953; a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy named in the ceremony fell in 1881. That was back when the Brown family was somewhat new to California and the sources of the governor’s beloved history lessons were still unfolding in real time. [my emphasis]
A "fallen police officer" is still being very officially and publicly honored for his service 134 years after his death.

There are very public and very official rituals and ceremonies to acknowledge and mourn the killing of police officers, apart from those held by their own families. No one that I know of criticizes this. Even Westboro Baptist Church hasn't protested as police funerals, not that I've ever heard.

And no public officers cheer the killing of police officers or reflexively defend such killings. Nobody does, except possible career criminals and the occasional active urban guerrilla, if there are any of the later in the US in 2015. Maybe the occasional Sovereign Citizen, some of whom are among the cop-killers.

Here we have a story of a different kind of death, a young black schizophrenic woman, Natasha McKenna, murdered by police with a Taser while in police custody. She "was restrained with handcuffs behind her back, leg shackles and a mask when a sheriff’s deputy shocked her four times." (Tom Jackman and Justin Jouvenal, Fairfax jail inmate in Taser death was shackled Washington Post 04/11/2015)

Here's a report from Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks on that case, Restrained Schizophrenic Black Woman Tazed To Death In Virginia Prison 04/13/2015:

The Hattiesburg police officers who were killed have already had their deaths noted and mourned nationwide. (One of my childhood friends mentioned on Facebook that he had known the father of one of the officers killed.) Two black suspects are in custody. No one doubts that the police officers there will be committed to finding the killers and anyone who may have been criminally involved in it in some other way, like providing weapons illegally. No one doubts that prosecutors will go after the accused hard.

By dramatic contrast, no one familiar with the recent history of police brutality and murders committed by police imagines that the same thing can be automatically assumed about Natasha McKenna.

That's why it often takes protests by the community to force the justice system to act in many of these cases. Or federal intervention, which is more likely to happen if there is active community protest.

Will the Governor of Virginia in the year 2149 be commemorating and mourning the death of Natasha McKenna? Only if the country is considerably improved from what it is in 2015.

Kirsten West Savali was asking last week, When Will We Demand Justice for Natasha McKenna? The Root 05/04/2015.

No one needs to ask that question about Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate. That process began the instant they were shot.

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