Wednesday, June 16, 2010
You Make the Call: Seattle Cop Punches Young Black Woman in Face During Altercation
You don't mess with the police. And lest we not forget that I am no fan of the police either. Most importantly, I am also not afraid of them. In fact, one of my earliest memories was my mom yelling at the Hamden police for viciously assaulting a gay couple outside of our house. Often, parents do not realize that they teach lessons even when not intending to do so. My mom doing her best/worst Thurgood Marshall impression yelled at the cops about the Constitution and that they were violating the inalienable rights of the American people. Funny, said police stopped, looked embarrassed, and the two men (guilty only for loving each other) came over and sat on our porch as my mother called 9-11.
In that moment I learned that cops are people too--both good and bad. I also learned that the police have the power of the State to take my life and that I should be weary of them.
I also remember my "don't fight with the cops or else you get killed" talk. My parents, god parents, and even the white fathers of my friends had some version of this teachable moment. They would relay (quite sternly I am may add) in keeping with this rite of passage that inducts young men of color into adulthood--and some white men as well--that you never fight the cops. Never. Ever.
Why? Many police officers are tired, exhausted, poorly trained, and perhaps even racist. Ultimately, and as I am so fond of quoting Morgan Freeman's great movie Nurse Betty, the police are the garbage men of the human condition. Thus, do not trust them to have patience or mercy. That is not their purview, temperament, or intent.
In watching this clip I have mixed feelings. I do not want to give into the official side of the story that exonerates the police and the powers that be. But, as a respectable negro I am dedicated to fighting stupidity wherever I find it. As I noted in this post, there are many reasons to put on the racism chasing shoes where necessary. Here, I do not choose to don them.
Moreover, and this may upset some, I think the police officer in this clip is not entirely wrong. Now, I do think he exercised poor judgment. He is surrounded by a hostile crowd. The offense is likely not worth the potential for violence. A call for backup would be necessary and should have been made from inside the protection of his vehicle. To boot, given the repeated physical assaults by the young women in the video, and the potential that his weapon could have been taken in the struggle and much more violence done, said officer exercised much restraint. Many police, and I would have thought this better than punching his assailant, would deploy either mace or a taser. In my opinion, and please feel free to disagree, that would have been a better tactical choice than what was demonstrated here.
Should said officer lose his job? Absolutely not. But again, that is for his review board to decide.
Ultimately, I have come to the following conclusion (and please tell me if I am arrogant, entitled, "respectable," and/or have social capital that blinds me to the struggles of the "ghetto underclass"): I don't care how this fight started. I don't care if the young black women in question were "right" or "wrong." You never, ever, put your hands on a cop. Why? because you could very well get shot. As my dad, mom, grandma, and others told me, "behave, listen, get the badge number, do what they say, and we will take them to court. Don't die out there."
So then, what explains the behavior of the young black women in the video? Is this a lack of home training? Do the young women in the video have a deep historical memory of slave patrols, white supremacy, and the role of police in the Racial State, and are thus fighting against their historical oppression? What in turn would explain their resistance? Or more cynically, is their behavior proof of a lack of home training amongst the ghetto underclasses, and the rise of some twisted mix of hyper-masculinity, femininity, and violence that fights all things and all people? In total, is this what happens when grandma is 30 years old?
Just being real. Politically incorrect or not. What are your thoughts on the behavior of the police officer in this video? And would this incident have not occurred if said young women acted more like ladies?