Sunday, June 7, 2015

Know Your History: A White Cop Threatening Lethal Force Against Black Kids at a Swimming Pool in McKinney, Texas is Nothing New

I would like to thank the kind folks who donated during the first week of the annual fundraiser here on and WARN. I am still sending out "thank you" notes. I greatly appreciate your kindness and generosity. We are about 40 percent away from the goal for this month. Hopefully, we will reach it next week and my NPR-like fundraising voice can be silenced until the end of the year. 
[And if you want a good laugh, apparently the racists at the Right-wing public sewer and trough urinal called The Free Republic are upset at my post on the grumpy angry white people who hate Bill de Blasio
Who knows, maybe they are in fact more upset because their godhead Bill O'Reilly's crap "literature" was spoken unkindly of?
It would be great fun and sport if folks would throw some money into the donation pile for WARN and then report at The Free Republic that they are, or already have, supported our work here.] 
I am not a fan of "racism chasing". It is tedious and uninteresting. What I try to do here on WARN and in my other work is to "connect the dots" between issues by providing historical, social, and political context. Too often folks focus on the minutia of an event of public concern without asking, "what is this an example of?" 
In this short essay, I try to provide an example of that critical approach in practice.
Who knows, maybe said thug cop was confused and was reading from Jim Crow era regulations that forbade blacks and other non-whites from being in the white man's swimming pools?
History echoes.
Swimming pools have long been a site of white on black racial violence in both the South and the North.
The Chicago "race riot" was caused when black kids swam on the "white" side of Lake Michigan. They were stoned to death by whites for that breach of racial etiquette.
In New York, public pools in black, brown, and poor neighborhoods were poorly maintained, not cleaned, and the water kept at uncomfortable temperatures as compared to those in white, middle and upper class communities.
In the Jim Crow South, there were laws against blacks swimming in "white" pools. This was considered too much and too close of an interracial intimacy. Many white communities closed down their pools once desegregation was the law of the land.
Never forget: as folks are somehow surprised by (more) police thuggery against black and brown people, remember that James Brock, a white hotel owner threw acid at civil rights freedom fighters who dared to swim in "his" pool.
Swimming pools are sites of public struggle, contestation, and power. Leisure and recreation are sites for politics even as they superficially appear to be from from it.


Buddy said...

Shit, this brings back memories. Twenty years ago, when my sons were little, wife and I took them to our town "beach" (tiny lake with some sand in front of it). Wife spread out a beach towel, sons played on the pier and in the water. Everything was fine.

Then a town cop approached and demanded to see my ID. I took out my wallet and showed him my drivers license. Apparently there was a law that the "beach" was only for town residents. Anybody from the neighboring city (black town) had to pay a fee or get out). He seemed surprised to see the address on my drivers license (we were from the white suburb rather than the black city). After a few hours, we left, and my wife told me (I hadn't noticed) he glared at me the whole time.

Me: southern italian guy. Wife: black. kids: "half" black.

I'm so glad to be out of that fucking town.

john fremont said...

I remember my Mom telling me that many lakes and pools went to private clubs after New Jersey desegregated public parks in the 1960's.

Sorry to say this but when I was at Marine boot camp in the mid 1980's, a swimming instructor told us recruits that the black recruits had so much trouble swimming was because of differences in body fat and they couldn't float as well. I believed this for years until a friend straightened me out that most black kids of our generation (Gen X) did not have access to pools, lakes, swimming lessons at the YMCA etc. like us white kids did. I then recalled what my Mom had told me and then I had an a-ha face palm moment about the BS that swimming instructor told me years before.

Germy Shoemangler said...

Pool party policeman named; video of him abusing teens was added to "police training" playlist

joe manning said...

Great that cops can't be so brutally cavalier anymore lest they be videoed.

Lewis Orne said...

Between this and the death of Kalief Browder, this is all I have to express... Gil Scott Heron "Enough"

kokanee said...

And therein lies the danger of not punishing cops who abuse their power. Bad cop sees videos of other bad cops doing bad things and gets a hard-on. Then the bad cop sees the other bad cops not getting punished for their bad deeds. Now the bad cop becomes empowered to bully, harass, threaten, shoot, kill with impunity.

Jim Wagner said...

Talking Points Memo has an article up today by a former cop and current law professor who points out two different styles of policing ("guardian" v. "warrior") seen in the McKinney video:

He notes that the first officer is cordial and professional, and clearly interested in de-escalating the situation, while the second officer is angry and aggressive, brandishing his weapon and quickly escalating the situation to the point of physical violence. Fair enough, I suppose, but while Officer #1 may be less of a violent thug than Officer #2, let's not convince ourselves that #1 is in fact that mythical unicorn known as the "good cop." A "good cop," I'd like to think, would be one who -- at the very least -- pulls his hot-headed partner away and tells him to leave the scene until he can regain his composure and act like a civilized human being when dealing with a group of children. As long as the Officer #1s of the world continue to stand idly by while their partners and colleagues abuse their power and subject their fellow citizens to unnecessary violence and threats, they will never be "good cops."

I don't dare wade too far into the Freeper comments section, but the first entry really tells you all you need to know: "It has to be a really sad life when you try to interpret everything as being against you."


Jay Reed said...

Okay, I'm going to break the monotony here---why were we begging to spend our money where its not wanted??? This mentality has left us economically crippled to this day. What do we own in 2015, that we didn't control in 1865 (Emancipation)?? We're to concerned with acceptance, rather than control. This has also left us politically weak, until we put a financial rug under these politicians, our issues will never be a concern. Morality hasn't won ANY war in history, these people have no conscious.