A lament

Here is a nice picture of Mt Rainier from this morning. 

I just watched the cowardly gasbag, five deferments when he had a chance to actually serve jackass who is currently playacting as president, wanting to feel like a big man commander in chief the day after turning off the lights and hiding in the basement,  and so ordering military and federal police to assault peaceful protesters so he could have photo op. And they did it. 

Just a few weeks ago, I was feeling a tiny bit of hope. It is inevitable that if the results don’t go his way, that man will declare the election a fraud and decline to concede.  At that point, the only thing left to do will be to fill the streets in protest and trust that those we have trusted with the privilege of enforcing our laws will have our backs. When I watched the videos of neonazi’s with guns take over state capitals and saw the police hold their lines in the face of screaming men and women with big guns designed to kill lots of people quickly, I could start to believe that that would be the case. Whatever their personal feelings, they were sworn to uphold the law and we as a society had trusted them to do so, and they were doing it.

While I cannot say I have ever really completely trusted the police, and I don’t doubt black people when they speak of their experiences with the police, I am generally a rule follower and deferential to authority. In my better moments, I try to believe that most people are basically good, and so most police, being people, should therefore be good as well, mainly decent guys(that they are mostly guys is almost certainly part of the problem) trying their best to do a job that is by its nature confrontational. It can’t be easy.

In my efforts toward an understanding I remind myself that there is a systemic racism that exists in society, and as part of that the police treat black people like the mortal threat to white lives that white woman in Central Park pretended that black man to be because that is how too many white people actually see black people. In this version, the police and their treatment of black people are a symptom of the rot at the core of America, our sins and our fears made explicit.

Because despite their protestations to the contrary, police largely get the benefit of the doubt. The idea that the police are under relentless attack is ridiculous. We want to trust them and most people do. Polling even now says so. I want to trust them. ‘Please don’t murder/cover up/justify the murder of black people’ should not be a big ask.

I know that being police is a dangerous job, and I know that they get assaulted and sometimes killed. I am sorry for that and don’t doubt the bravery of many of them. But people who assault police get arrested. Police officers who assault and murder civilians, well . . . all of this started because a police officer named Derek Chauvin casually kneeled on the neck of a defenseless, unarmed black man named George Floyd until he suffocated and died. He was murdered while three other officers watched and did nothing. Every looted store, every injured cop, every beaten protester flows from that act and all the ones like it in the past that went unpunished.

All I ever seem to hear is that of course there are going to be bad apples in any profession, followed immediately by a defense of why in this specific case(which seeminglys ends up being every case) the officer was in fact justified and not in fact a bad apple at all.

If people really believed there would be consequences for those bad apples, maybe we wouldn’t be here right now.

But there are too many videos of unarmed and non violent protesters being assaulted, police initiating violence where none existed, to anymore pretend. Some of these officers aren’t just bad, they seem to be enjoying the opportunity to be who they always wanted to be, and they seem to believe(rightly?) that they can act without consequence. 

There are also videos of police in solidarity with the protesters. But those are few and far between.

Where are the good police in all of this?  I want to believe you exist, but if these bad actors are a minority of bad apples, why the fuck aren’t  you stopping them?

All I know is that if I or any other civilian moves to stop a ‘bad’ cop from doing something bad, there are likely to be severe consequences from one of the ‘good’ cops protecting his ‘brother.’ 

Protesters don’t the power or the obligation to stop looters that have nothing to do with them, though some of them have tried. Black people don’t have the power or some special obligation to prevent other black people from committing crime. It is weird and racist to suggest they do.

Police, with the power of law that we have entrusted them with, DO have the power to stop criminals, and that includes other police behaving like criminals. Yet they rarely seem to do so. Three officers watched George Floyd being murdered while bystanders begged Derek Chauvin to stop. Bystanders, I reiterate, that would at best have been violently subdued and probably killed by those other officers if they tried to intervene.

Every time a black person is murdered by the police, a frantic search begins to find something in their past that somehow ex post facto justifies their murder.

Every time a police officer murders a black person, the same search begins to prove that the officer is a really decent guy who somehow accidentally stumbled by mistake into killing someone.

I don’t really care that the person who just smashed in someone’s face with their jackboot after pepper spraying their eyes once bought a homeless man a pair of new boots, or helped your mom up when she fell. This isn’t that godawful movie Crash, where at the beginning, Matt Dillion’s police officer rapes Thandie Newton’s character because she and her husband were black in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the end, he risks his life to save her from a burning car wreck that is about to explode and I guess we are supposed to think ‘hmm, people are sure complicated.’ This isn’t the 16th century Catholic church.  You can’t purchase the right to bad acts with good ones.

With George Floyd, it finally seemed like there was as close to universal condemnation of a police officer by other police as we could ever hope for. Maybe things could change. It doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. And then police started beating the shit out of protesters, and too few ‘good’ cops made no move to stop them.  

I have no idea how this gets better.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close