there is no perfect victim

I wrote this last week, but I was so tired from work that I forgot to post it. Figured it was still relevant.


Two weeks ago, Rayshard Brooks’s death caused a great deal of outrage – both against the police and for them.

It was the first widely publicised death by the hands of the police since George Floyd and in some ways, it was interesting to see how people reacted.

Compared to George Floyd, it was perhaps less gut-wrenching. It all happened so quickly that it didn’t invoke the same emotion and thus, the reactions were varied.

Personally, I was horrified to see him getting shot in the back.

Some thought it was justified because he fought with the police.

In my opinion, resisting arrest shouldnt be a death sentence and I’m fairly certain things would have gone down very differently if he was white.
Some will bring up his criminal history, but did any of that justify them killing him?

Nope.

The New York Times have a video investigation here which sums up what happened.

From Wiki:

On the evening of June 12, 2020, Rayshard Brooksa 27-year-old black American man, was shot and killed by an Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe following a complaint about a man asleep in a car blocking a fast-food drive-through lane. Brooks, whose blood alcohol content was measured at 35% above the legal limit (0.028 points above), had resisted arrest and stolen a taser as he wrestled on the ground with two police officers. During a foot chase, Brooks fired the taser at one of the officers, who then shot at Brooks three times, striking him twice in the back. The killing has been ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

Garrett Rolfe has now been charged with felony murder and other counts.

As Brooks laid on the ground injured, Rolfe kicked him and Brosnan stood on his shoulders. Neither officer provided medical attention to Brooks until two minutes later when Rolfe unrolled a bandage

At the very least, Rolfe deserves some time for kicking a man who lay bleeding on the ground.

According to this article, Rolfe was involved in a covered up shooting four years ago so if we’re judging the victim, I guess we can judge the perpetrators.

Back to Rayshard Brooks, from The Daily Mail:

  • Rayshard Brooks was on probation and faced going back to prison if he was charged with a DUI, DailyMail.com can reveal
  • The charges to which Brooks pleaded guilty and for which he was still on probation dated back to August 2014
  • He was convicted on four counts – False Imprisonment, Simple Battery/Family, Battery Simple and Felony Cruelty/Cruelty to Children
  • Brooks had not been in trouble since 2016 until last December when he went to Ohio without informing his probation officer – but the case was dismissed

I read ‘there is no perfect victim’ somewhere and it’s absolutely correct. Too often, people point out the misdeeds of victims and use it to justify what has happened.

The fact is that, what happened to Rayshard Brooks could happen to anybody – maybe even someone with a clean record – and that’s what matters.

It’s not for the police to play judge, jury and executioner and it’s not for us either. There are justice systems in place to deal with such situations.

Unfortunately, those systems are biased and broken, but they’re all we’ve got until the necessary reforms are in place.

If the police shoot a man in the back, there’s no self-defence argument that could ever be valid.

Period.

It doesn’t matter who they are – wrong is wrong.

On the other hand, I do understand why this case is so polarising. The ‘perfect’ victim has been ingrained in society for so long that we often allow emotions to override our sense of what’s right and what’s wrong.

The fact is that for 43 odd minutes, the police were able to talk to Rayshard Brooks calmly and that when it came down to it, they were unable to keep the situation from spiralling out of control. Once it did spiral, they simply stood by for two minutes and did nothing.

That is not justice.

jared padalecki’s take on black lives matter

The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to prioritise white feelings. Even if they can hear you, they’re not really listening. It’s like something happens to the words as they leave our mouths and reach their ears. The words hit a barrier of denial and they don’t get any further. That’s the emotional disconnect. It’s not really surprising, because they’ve never known what it means to embrace a person of colour as a true equal, with thoughts and feelings that are as valid as their own.

Reni Eddo-Lodge,  ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race’, 2014.

Before anyone runs in here with pitchforks, I’m not here to call him out.Not entirely anyway.

I’m surprised he said something (and unsure why he picked Father’s Day, but okay).

Quick note – I used to be a huge fan of Jared up until the Trayvon Martin case went to trial and… the ignorance came tumbling out of his nostrils at full force.

The fact that he had more to say about a young black woman who’s friend was murdered than the person who committed the crime says it all, let alone the whole cracker debate.

It was a wrap for me after that.

Yes, that was years ago, but like with all of his transgressions, it was promptly never mentioned again.

Anyway, this was his Father’s Day/BLM tweet(s):

He managed not to insult anyone, which is great.

HOWEVER.

Besides what he said about talking to his children, I don’t know what he’s trying to say. And I don’t care to read it over again.

It’s too long, to put it bluntly. Maybe it’s a case of the messenger, but I’m too tired.
Nbc No GIF by Superstore

He said they [he and his friend who’s also white and Southern-bred, lol] talked about not dancing around it, but apparently that didn’t translate to the statement itself.

All he did was dance around the issue.

I don’t understand why white people keep composing these essays.

The buzz phrase of the year seems to be ‘I need to do more’ – which I find ironic because it implies they were doing something to begin with.

Who are these statements for? Who are they really for? I saw someone write that he’s put out the best statement on the matter. How? Racist white people react strongly to a very simple hashtag. I don’t think his composition is really going to get through to them.

So, he basically wrote all of that about himself for himself.

I feel like he did that thing where you need to write a paper for class, but you have no idea what to say, so you just keep writing until it looks like you put some thought in it.

I was unmoved by ALL of it. I pasted that quote above because it sums up what I felt when reading it – a complete and utter emotional disconnect.

I understand that it’s hard for white people to wrap their heads around the idea that people are treated differently because of their skin colour, but…

I’ve peeped the game.

Not just from Jared, but all of the celebs out there who had free time (oh, look we’re in the middle of a pandemic!), access to a word processor and fan bases to share their words with.

As a black person, I can only read what people are saying and decide whether I believe it’s genuine. It doesn’t even matter who they are. I have had the exact same issue with a few other statements I read.

They’re basically rambling about themselves and posting it like they’re saying something. They will say the right words, say that they’re privileged, but…something doesn’t match up.

With Jared, by the time I got the end of his post, he’d come up with a very cute idea involving 5 steps. If we take 5 steps forward, we can take another five and another five.

In fact, that was probably the only part I really understood because of how frustrating it was.

This is not a baby steps situation.

Anyway, after I wrote most of this post, I realised the entire statement is directed at white people by a white man… who discussed everything happening with another white man!

[… I’m sure his other friend Stephen Amell was on hand to offer his support, too!]

I suppose I should be glad he didn’t bother a black person with the nonsense because he used up a lot of words to say:

black lives matter, and we need to make sure that people aren’t treated unfairly or differently because of the colour of their skin. As a white person, I’m privileged because I’ve never felt like people judge me based on the colour of my skin. Going forward, I’m going to educate myself, my children and others around me so that one day, people of all races are treated fairly and equally. 

In fact, had he just tweeted the hashtag and opened his wallet and donated to some worthy causes, I would have been like, ‘well, alright, look who’s getting involved!’ and kept it moving.

Unsurprisingly, he doesn’t call himself out on past transgressions – maybe he doesn’t think he has any.

I’ve come across too many instances of him being an asshole for no reason– to believe that he’s suddenly going to check his white privilege when he can barely check his regular privilege, but a’ight.

Still, maybe a miracle has happened. Maybe he’s changed (based on the statement, he hasn’t, but we all have to start somewhere!).

Going forward, I hope that:

  • the black characters (if there are any) on Jared’s new show, Walker, aren’t killed off or subjected to racist treatment behind the scenes.

Note: The CW is a hotbed of racism. Kat Graham went through it on The Vampire Diaries (the link is a long read, but there’s some seriously messed up stuff in there.

Some years back, Supernatural had a black woman morphing into a dog, or whatever that shit was. My recap is a mess, but basically, a white male character was the master of a black female character. They made a big deal about her choosing to be in such a dynamic, but…yeah. It was racist.

Supernatural in general has been problematic in terms of race and diversity. In its first season, Dean and Sam Winchester took on a racist truck that was killing black men, and to date, it’s probably the episode with the most black people in it). Minority characters often meet a gruesome end, or are seen for one or two episodes before they vanish.

On The Flash, Candice Patton has endured racism from some of the show’s the fans.

….and back to my hopes:

  • He stops making deportation jokes.
  • He doesn’t still believe in reverse racism.
  • He’s let the whole cracker thing go, because… no.
  • He’s not still disparaging women of colour.

…just don’t ask me how deep that hope runs.

Oh and I noticed that Jensen’s been all pro-BLM too which is good for him, I guess, and black fans of Supernatural who want to feel like their faves give a shit.

Somewhere in a corner, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is probably following suit.

I would give them all the benefit of the doubt, but like Maya Angelou once said: when someone shows you who they are – believe them. 

the dark side of no-knock warrants

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Breonna Taylor (1993-2020), a medical tech at a university hospital in the middle of a pandemic, was killed by police officers in her home in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13th 2020. She was Black American, they were White American.

At least eight bullets hit Breonna Taylor, killing her in the hallway.

As it stands, the officer who killed her has been fired but not charged.

After reading about Breonna Taylor’s unfortunate and untimely passing at the hands of the Louisville police, I did some reading up on no-knock warrants and I was alarmed to see the somewhat similar case of Kathryn Johnston, a 92 year old black woman killed 14 years ago in Atlanta.

Kathryn Johnston (June 26, 1914 – November 21, 2006) was an elderly Atlanta, Georgia, woman who was killed by undercover police officers in her home on Neal Street in northwest Atlanta on November 21, 2006, where she had lived for 17 years. Three officers had entered her home in what was later described as a ‘botched’ drug raid. Officers cut off burglar bars and broke down her door using a no-knock warrant. Police said Johnston fired at them and they fired in response; she fired one shot out the door over the officers’ heads and they fired 39 shots, five or six of which hit her. None of the officers were injured by her gunfire, but Johnston was killed by the officers. Police injuries were later attributed to friendly fire from each other’s weapon

….39 shots. Against one extremely elderly woman.

To make matters worse…

One of the officers planted marijuana in Johnston’s house after the shooting

To make matters even worse, they handcuffed her while she was dying and she died before they could remove her from the scene.

Apparently, an informant testified that he’d bought drugs from her house – but denied it after the fact.

Eventually, the officers involved were arrested and charged, and served time in prison.

One thing that stood out to me was their testimony.

The officers involved in the shooting testified that they had been under pressure to meet performance requirements of the APD, which led them to lie and falsify evidence, and that they had been inadequately trained. Police Chief Pennington denied the existence of quotas in the APD, but acknowledged the existence of “performance measures because if we don’t have them, the officers would come in every day with nothing on their sheets.”

Quite why a 92 year old woman was their target is a mystery, but chances are they were looking for someone else. Still, it makes me wonder just how often the police have planted evidence.

I also think it’s highly likely that these ‘performance measures’ are still in place. Whenever I’m talking to someone about how police target black people, the word quota comes up. It’s much easier to justify arresting a black person. We fit the profile. On a less dangerous level, security guards are told the same thing, but that’s a post for another time.

Typically, no-knock warrants are supposedly issued for residences where police believe criminal activity is taking place. The idea is that, not knocking will prevent the occupant from hiding or destroying evidence…but…even if they did knock, would occupants have time to do all of that? At best, it’s an unnecessarily aggressive intimidation tactic that results in serious injuries or the loss of life – almost like, the police aren’t interested in doing any policing at all?

From an incident in Little Rock, Arkansas two years ago:

On Feb. 2, 2018, officers told a judge that a confidential informant had purchased $60 worth of methamphetamine from a man inside a home on Labette Drive and they needed a no-knock warrant.

Two weeks later, officers broke open the front door of the Labette Drive home of Candice Caldwell and threw a flash-bang grenade inside, which burned a portion of the carpet. Another officer used a ladder he found on the property to climb onto the roof and break into the home through a second floor window. Officers also fired shots through the ceiling and caused more than $7,800 in damage.

But as was the case with the Davis raid, officers came up empty. All that was recovered was a home surveillance system that apparently recorded the incident and a glass smoking device

The entire concept of no-knock warrants becomes even more warped in the cases of Breonna Taylor and Kathryn Johnston – if occupants have guns, what happens when they shoot back? Absolute carnage, but…what else can happen when people are targeted in such a violent manner? In the case of Breonna, her partner Kenneth Walker shot and wounded an officer because he thought it was a home invasion.

Initially, he was charged with attempted murder – despite the fact that it’s legal to defend yourself against a home invasion.

Kathryn Johnston fired a shot that didn’t hit any of the officers who targeted her, yet they fired 39 shots back at her.

There is no justice being served here.

Instead the police are creating situations where there’s loss of life – sometimes their own (which would be a pretty good reason to abolish the practise all together, but apparently not).

Naturally, there’s even disparity in the way deaths of officers due to no-knock warrants are handled.

From this 2014 Vox article:

A pair of cases in Texas are an example of how wrong no-knock raids can go, for both police and civilians, and how dangerously subjective the SWAT raid process can be. In December 2013, Henry Magee shot and killed a police officer during a pre-dawn, no-knock drug raid on his home. He was initially charged with capital murder, but he argued that he shot the police officer, who he thought was an intruder, to protect his pregnant girlfriend. In February 2014, a grand jury declined to indict him, and charges were dropped.

In May, a Texas man named Marvin Guy also killed a police officer during a pre-dawn, no-knock raid on his home. Guy, too, was charged with capital murder. Unlike Magee’s grand jury, a grand jury in September 2014 allowed the capital murder charge against Guy to stand. His trial is likely to happen in 2016.

Guy, who is black, now faces the death penalty. Magee is white.

Marvin Guy’s trial hasn’t happened yet. He’s STILL (paywall) in jail.

Marvin Louis Guy, 55, is held in jail for five felony charges: capital murder of a peace officer, capital murder by terror or threat, and three charges of attempted capital murder of a peace officer. Guy has been in police custody since 2014.

There are too many stories online about no-knock warrants and the dangers they pose. Enough that they should have been banned before Breonna Taylor was shot dead. As of writing, the officer who killed her hasn’t been charged, but even if he is…I won’t be surprised if he doesn’t see a day in jail.

Aiyana Jones was seven years old when she was killed in a botched raid in 2010.

Aiyana Stanley-Jones was sleeping in her home on the east side of Detroit on the night of May 16, 2010, when officers barged into the house. They were conducting a police raid in search of a murder suspect who lived at that address — and being filmed for a reality TV show in the process — when Officer Joseph Weekley accidentally fired his gun. What exactly caused him to fire is still a matter of dispute. But the shot killed Aiyana.

That’s tragic enough on its own, but what struck me as particularly silly was Weekley’s assertion that he was blinded by the flash grenade that he threw.

According to Weekley, a fellow officer threw a flash-bang grenade through the window, temporarily blinding him. When Weekley regained sight, he realized there was a person on the couch instead of what he’d originally thought was a pile of clothes.

…?!

Was he not trained on how to use one of those things without impairing his own vision? Is it any wonder that these raids turn into pandemonium when the police don’t seem to have a single iota of intelligence?

Not that it even matters.

They do this shit on purpose.

“These raids, at their essence, are really a tool designed to keep black folks and poor folks in their place. To keep them scared, to keep them on their heels. It’s unconscionable.” — Michael Laux, Civil Rights attorney.

I feel like these raids are normalised by how we see them on television. The epic part of the movie where the Badass Cop™ kicks down the door. The juicy part of the reality show where they burst into people’s houses. Do we every really think about the real consequences of these raids?

Some of the stuff I’ve read has been nothing short of horrifying and I really do hope that everything that’s been said and done this past month actually inspires real change, both in the US and wherever people are being mistreated in this way.


 

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Kathryn_Johnston

https://theappeal.org/no-knock-warrants-arkansas/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.pbs.org/newshour/amp/politics/the-war-on-drugs-gave-rise-to-no-knock-warrants-breonna-taylors-death-could-end-them

https://text.npr.org/s.php?sId=876293168

https://theappeal.org/how-a-no-knock-raid-in-austin-turned-into-a-lethal-shootout

https://arktimes.com/arkansas-blog/2019/08/08/civil-rights-attorneys-prepare-four-new-lawsuits-against-lrpd-and-city-for-no-knock-warrant-raids

How A Police Officer Shot A Sleeping 7-Year-Old To Death

Six Years Later Still No Justice For Aiyana Jones

https://abagond.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/breonna-taylor/

the great white dilemma

I don’t know why I keep on engaging with people on Twitter, but I do.

This time, it was a tweet about how white people are too scared to say they don’t care about black lives matter.

…at first, I was like, scared where? It’s all over Twitter, and then I remembered that Twitter is hardly indicative of real life. We’re all sharing stories on Twitter and they’re getting thousands of likes and retweets, but there are millions of people around us offline who probably feel how the tweeter does.

According to them, ‘a lot of people feel this way’.

GOOD!

Chances are the vast majority don’t give a shit. They’re out and about pretending to be nice. Overcompensating. Telling us how great we are. Stroking our egos.

Newsflash – it’s usually obvious within a conversation. Some white people will do their best to bring up race somehow and either double down on how much they love something (usually, our hair) or make a questionable comment and qualify it by saying that another imaginary black person thought it was okay/funny.

Or, they will use microaggressions –

brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioural, or environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative prejudicial slights and insults toward any group, particularly culturally marginalized groups.

Microaggressions will have you scratching your head. Just off the top off my head, I’ve been told that I look ‘softer’ and ‘more approachable’ with my natural hair, that black women in weaves look like they want to ‘fight’. Someone told a black woman I know that she looked like a drag queen (but that was okay because they LOVED drag queens).

It’s always very obvious when someone has a problem.

They don’t like us and they don’t care. WE BEEN KNEW! They’re not fooling anyone – they might as well live their truth.

All black people are asking for is equality. Not to be liked.  White people don’t even need to care. They just need to deal. We’re here, we’re not going anywhere and one day, we will be treated with the fairness and respect we deserve.

In a way, being too scared not to say something is kind of privileged in itself, right? They’re only scared because it’ll make them look like selfish, racist people (which, I guess some of them are?).

In terms of things to be scared of – that’s a pretty good break.