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Targeting Black Men

What's wrong with this picture? Florida cops use real pictures of black men for target practice

For those mainly white people, especially the so-called “conservatives,” and all supporters of police who insist that the majority of cops are incapable of willful wrongdoing (especially race-based wrongdoing), and for those of any “race” whosubscribe to the “few bad apples” theory of policing, consider this:

Abby Zimet is a staff writer at She has done us all a service by posting an expose' of the North Miami Beach Police Department's use of bullet-ridden, photos of real black men as target practice at their official shooting range.

This practice (pun very much intended), however, was onlydiscovered because a Florida National Guard member, Sgt. Valerie Deant,went to the rangeto complete her annual weapons training regimen. Imagine her shock and horror when she entered the shooting gallery and saw an actual 15-year-old mugshot of her brother Woody as one of six “targets.”

Woody Deant's picture had already been used by the previous shooters – the North Miami cops (who apparently had forgotten to take down their target-pictures when they finished).Thus,Sgt. Deant's brother's picture featured one bullet hole in his left eye and another one smack dab in middle of his forehead – kill shots both.

An incredulous and angry Sgt. Deant asked the operators of the range, "Why is my brother being used for target practice?”They referred her to the police department's Chief – J. Scott Dennis.

Incredibly (or maybe not), his response to the sergeant was telling, essentially demanding to know what was her problem.

But once the news of this practice got out of the police department's purview and control, Chief Dennis finally, reluctantly, allowed that perhaps, just maybe, he and his department could possibly have exercised slightly better judgment.That “better judgment” call? He should, said the Chief, thrown an Hispanic's picture into the mix of black-guys-as-targets.But as local news reports indicate, the good Chief Dennis insisted that neither he nor his department had done anything wrong and that "no policies were violated."

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That raises the obvious question of what exactly are those “policies” which were not violated by such an obvious case of racial profiling.The answer, of course, is thatpolicy and protocol (as evidence by these pictures) is always to shoot young black guys in the face.

As for racial profiling, using the six black faces of real, walking, breathing black guys (who may or may not be “criminals”) is "vital" to “facial recognition drills,” the Chief argued.He, of course, is not a racist and would not tolerate such persons under his command.

The Deants' family attorney (yes they are considering a lawsuit – wouldn't you?) argues that in fact living peoples' pictures are rarely if ever used for target practice in other jurisdictions because,"This can create a very dangerous situation...It has been ingrained in your subconscious [when] police come across [young black men] on the street, and [it affects] their decision-making process on using deadly force.”

Not surprisingly, Sgt. Deant's brother, Woody, agrees. "People that are out there who are supposed to be protecting us are using us as target practice....Automatically in [the cop's] mind, he’s going to think target, target, target."

Target, target, target. Yes. Here are more of these targets, but whose real unarmed bodies were shot by this selfsame police department since 1999.

As for Woody Deant, conservatives, right wingers, and dyed-in-blue police supporters will be heartened to know that he does have a “record.”Indeed, Deant did four years in prison for drag racing in North Miami.Drag racing?Four years?Yeah.Two people were killed as a result of that race.Since then, though, the man has stayed out of trouble, turned his life completely around; married; father children; and worked a 9-to-5 job.

But his 15-year-old mug shot remains a touchstone for the police department, who are being trained to shoot to kill him on sight.

So, the final question is this:Do any of you “conservatives” see anything wrong with this picture?


Herbert Dyer, Jr.