Friday, January 16, 2015

Charles Blow on Tamir Rice


     Tamir Rice was 12 years old, with a toy gun in a park.  He was shot to death by a police officer seconds after the officer came into the park.

***

       Tajai,  his sister at a nearby recreation center, hearing the firing, ran to help him and was held away from him by the "police" so she could not cradle him, as he lay dying, in her arms.

***

      They tackled Tajai, held her in a cruiser.

***

        Thanks to Charles Blow, these facts, particularly the second that everyone should etch in her memory, appeared in the New York Times.  This is a sign of the ferocity of recent protest (the Times has often disregarded such stories in the past).

***

       Black Lives Matter! is a movement trying to deal with this. This murder recalls the police shooting of Jimmie Lee Jackson in Selma - see  "Thoughts about the greatness of Selma, truth, black and white unity, King and the clamor of racist patriarchs" here - and the murder of the 14 year old Bobby Hutton in his bed in Chicago (the Black Panthers, of course, had arms for self-defense and the police/FBI used this as a pretext to murder many).

***

     Blow speaks of human depravity -  Mr. Lynch and the policeman's "union, " defending the choking of the unarmed Eric Garner, should pay attention...

***

     Clay Colson reposted my "Police killings: US 459 Britain and Japan 0" here.  He received a letter  in response, trying the idea that many more black teenagers are killed by other black teenagers - as if this were an isolated problem of young blacks rather than an imposition of a racist society - than are murdered by police.

***

"Dear Clay,
 
The American citizenry and we mean everybody have been duped again by the bourgeois media and mislead by the Left media. As we know 'if it bleeds it leads'. During 2014 16 unarmed Black Americans were killed by the police.[this claim challenges a figure in my post drawn from the Economist; the latter could easily be wrong - though a suggestion occurs in the article that this is an underestimate; some criticism of the article, not to mention justification of the figure offered would have been useful]. That is a tragedy. However thousands of young Black men were victims of homicide. Most were killed with handguns by other young Black men. Most murderers kill within there own race. The horrible stats remain about the same year after year with Blacks being murdered at a rate far exceeding their percent of the population. Check stats from Center for Disease Control."

***

    The author is quick to talk about people "being duped" rather than just making an argument.     He ignores the real and powerful movement Black Lives Matter!  and denies the horror of what happened to Trayvon and Michael and Tamir and Eric.

***

      If the point had been stated reasonably, it would be: racist police murders are horrible, but the main problem of blacks dying young is a direct result of "other blacks."  That would still be unthought about and wrong, but it would at least be somewhat  plausible.

***

     Clay provides the framework for an answer:

"Dear David,

To start with the CDC does not have mandatory reporting requirements from law enforcement anymore than the FBI does.  Just off the top of my head I know these numbers "During 2014 16 unarmed Black Americans were killed by the police"  not accurate.  Here are some more reliable and comprehensive reports on these numbers and why we don't actually have any mechanism of accurate accounting:  Police Killing Data Filled With Many Unknowns,  Nobody Knows How Many Americans The Police Kill Each Year,  Unarmed People of Color Killed by Police, 1999-2014 (this one actually shows each one of them to you with an explanation of the circumstances),  Exactly How Often Do Police Shoot Unarmed Black Men? (another which refutes your statistics),  How Often are Unarmed Black Men Shot Down By Police? (and yet another),  The extremely incomplete list of unarmed Blacks killed by police (1 more which names 12 up to 082614 so it is extremely incomplete as there are no real, accurate or reliable statistics available as you would have us believe).

I'll end with this one as it probably provides the best input as to why these statistics are so extremely unreliable 21 Numbers That Will Help You Understand Why Ferguson Is About More Than Michael Brown."

***

        I would  suggest that  slavery and Jim Crow and continuing oppression at work - higher rates of joblessness, tougher, more dangerous jobs, demeaning comments and glances - and in the community - racial profiling by police - continue daily to create and recreate trauma and feelings of inferiority. Store owners put your change on the counter, hand it to whites. In schools, principals and often teachers know you are trouble, ride you, push you into the school to prison-pipeline (Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of America: the Re-apartheidization of American Schools; Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow).

***

     What is racial profiling?  You can be walking along the street happily, your mind somewhere else, and stopped and roughed up by the police.  You can be labeled a gang member. Your stomach can "assault" a policeman's fist.

***

     You can be thrown in jail for marijuana (the rate of use among whites is higher, of incarceration lower), put on probation, constantly forced to report to an officer of the court, who often does not look on you kindly, thrown back in jail if you have a "violation" or a cop stops you for whatever reason...

***

       Listed as part of a "gang," you can be further surveilled.  And if you are a young black man in the city, you are faced with alternatives of  joblessness (according to the New York Times in December 2008, the unemployment rate among poor black teenagers in the city was a startling 96%) or joining the military.  In Chicago, joining the army to murder in Iraq for the US government is often safer than living in a housing project like Cabrini Green.  Still, blacks and latinos understand far more clearly than whites that America's wars for oil and military bases are...wars for the rich.

***

      You can probably count black supporters of the war in Iraq on the fingers of two hands - all the prominent blacks in the Republican party - and even among soldiers, very few.

***

       Or you can join a gang.  But the vast majority of those labelled by the police as in gangs are not (the label is just a tool of control and harassment).  Those killed by gangs are often passersby.

***

       The environment Dave cites is created by ferocious racism which leaves among blacks, as among indigenous people, a trans-generational trauma (it is the phrase of Ramon Beltran, my colleague in social work).  And that is a precondition for some of the killing.

***

      Black Lives Matter!  stands up for the dignity of each human being in the face of ferocious oppression.  May it flourish!

***

      It is time to change America, to make it less the home for unbridled, shoot to kill racist violence by authorities, stigmatization, surveillance and the creation of the world's biggest police state: 2.3 million prisoners, 25% of the world's prisoners (see Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow).

***

"The Opinion Pages | OP-ED COLUMNIST
Tamir Rice and the Value of Life
JAN. 11, 2015


            An extended video released last week of the shooting death of Tamir Rice in Cleveland appears to show an unconscionable level of human depravity on the part of the officer who shot him, a stunning disregard for the value of his life and a callousness toward the people who loved him.
His black life didn’t seem to matter. But it does.

On Nov. 22, two officers responded to a 911 call about a “guy” in a park pointing a gun that was “probably fake.” (By the way, Ohio is an open-carry state, so having and carrying a gun is not a crime in and of itself.)
The guy was Tamir. He had a pellet gun. There is no indication in police statements that he ever fired it.
One of the officers, Timothy Loehmann, shot Tamir within “1.5 to two seconds” of arriving at the park. Two seconds. So quickly. In the blink of an eye. And yet, according to The Associated Press, the officers say that they ordered Tamir to put his hands up three times before he was shot. According to the original statement released by the police, “The suspect did not comply with the officers’ orders and reached to his waistband for the gun.”
All in one and a half to two seconds? Really. Take a moment and time yourself giving three commands, imagining a response from Tamir and making the decision to shoot. Maybe it can be done in less than two seconds. But to my mind, it strains credulity.
When one of the officers called in the shooting, he said: “Shots fired, male down, black male, maybe 20.” Tamir was 12.
Tamir’s 14-year-old sister, Tajai, was in a nearby recreation center when she said she heard a gunshot. She said someone told her that a boy had been shot — her own brother.
She raced to his aid, but as the video shows, one of the officers tackled her, handcuffed her and stuffed her into the back of the police cruiser, just feet away from where her brother was bleeding out onto the snow-dappled ground.
She could not reach him. Her arms could not cradle his body and plead for him to hang on. Her hands could not stroke his cheek, and she could not whisper hopefully, “It’s going to be O.K.” Her eyes could not gaze into his and say what sisters are able to say without saying anything: “I love you.”
Tamir deserved that, but the officers made sure that she could not provide it. Four minutes passed without anyone offering the boy aid or comfort. Four long minutes he lay there, still alive, with the burn of a bullet in his abdomen.
How excruciating must the pain have been? How slowly must the time have passed? How great must his fear and sadness have been? What must Tamir have thought as the officers hovered about, not helping him?
Hopefully, events to the contrary, he didn’t think that his life didn’t matter. It did and it does.
Tamir died from his wound the next day.
It is hard to think of the gravely injured boy and the aloof officers who’d done the deed but withheld their help, and not reach a white-hot level of righteous indignation.
Tamir was a human being, a child — who could have been any of our children, and who was robbed of his life and therefore his future. Twelve years old. That’s just a baby, a baby with a hole in his belly. This wrong must be made right.
There is a basic respect for life that should have governed that day, and which seems, in the video, shockingly absent from it.
Not only is the shooting itself disturbing, but the failure to render aid is unconscionable. And this didn’t just happen in Tamir’s case. The same apathy about the immediate administration of care is echoed in other cases where black boys and men lay dying.
After George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman mounted the boy and stretched his arms wide. Martin was still alive.
(By the way, Zimmerman was arrested yet again Saturday, this time on charges of aggravated assault and domestic violence with a weapon for allegedly throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend. “Georgie” doesn’t seem so peaceful anymore, does he?) 
After officers choked Eric Garner until he fell unconscious, no one administered CPR. Instead they checked his pockets. Garner was still alive.
As Salon put it, after Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown through the head, Wilson didn’t check to see if Brown “was breathing or if he had a pulse; nor did he render aid in any way, shape or form.”
The list goes on, quite literally, ad nauseam.
The plaintive voices of the dead call the living to action. So, in the demand for justice, timorousness must be the enemy, tirelessness must be the motto and righteousness must be the compass.
The world must be made to acknowledge that Tamir Rice’s life mattered."

No comments:

Post a Comment