...But That Will!
When will police use of excessive lethal force against unarmed black males end? When a black cop kills an unarmed white kid.
For several years we have been aware of the repeated killing of unarmed black men and teens by police across this country. The names of the victims are seemingly endless, with one death following another in all parts of the nation. Protest after protest and demonstrations peaceful and violent, have led to demands for reform, but the reforms never really come. And they won't. as long as it's a "black lives matter" issue. But whites are killed by cops even more frequently than blacks and in situations that are as unbelievable as those that end up with dead blacks. Yet nothing happens, because it's white cops against white males.
There will be a powerful movement to finally enact the reforms demanded for years in relation to black deaths at the hands of police.
Excessive use of deadly lethal force, whether by guns or brute strength, by white cops on white victims hasn't aroused anger in the white community. Such incomprehensible acts as the brutal treatment of Kelly Thomas in Fullerton in 2011, which resulted in his death, brought out some protest groups but without significant results. It was the persistence of his father that moved the city to act. Cops were fired, even though a jury acquitted them of wrong doing, and the city paid Thomas' parents over $5 million.
But the most egregious example of excessive force occurred in Los Angeles in 1950 when an 18-year-old white college student was shot to death after a traffic stop as he exited his car in response to the officer's order. The cop's justification? The kid was reaching for his pocket, which must have been the 1950 equivalent of "He reached for his waistband." The grand jury ruled it was an accident, and the family received no compensation from the city.
If ever there was reason for marches and angry demonstrations against cop violence, that was the time and place. Yet other than a special column of letters to the editor in a local daily, consisting of a large number of comments from incensed readers, there was nothing else. The streets were quiet. Yes, the cop was fired... by one of the most right-wing police chiefs Los Angeles ever had. Even the chief recognized the inanity of the cop's action, but the city streets were quiet.
As in the case of blacks killed by white cops, little, if any, reform in police conduct or culture has taken place following the unreasonable use of force against whites. Black demonstrations have been no more successful in changing cop culture than the silent outrage of whites when white youths have died at the hands of police.
The recent, organized action by athletes, such as the professional basketball walkout, is not likely to effectively change the white antipathy to anti-cop demonstrations, which too often have ended in anarchic violence that fortifies whites in their willingness to denounce the destructive acts that follow the peaceful protests.
How to explain the relative silence in white on white cop killings? Part of it is the constant indoctrination from childhood on, that cops are your friend, they protect you, they stand between you and the bad guys. Couple that with the upbringing of a child born into a typical white family that, overtly or covertly, holds negative views of blacks, and you have a situation creating a white feeling of unrest when around blacks. Thus, any significant change due to the death of a black man at the hands of police is unlikely to gain significant white support.
But when that black cop shoots the white teen, racism will overcome any pro-police attitudes. There will be a very vocal and physical protest about police brutality, so strong that the reforms that have been demanded for years in relation to black deaths at the hands of police will finally be enacted.
That's the upside to racism.