Blacks, Blues, Blasts and Blame: Shootings of Unarmed Suspects Creates Armed Resistance
"I don't condone it; but, I understand it."
-- Various people responding to the 7/7/16 Dallas Massacre
No sooner had I written about how "It's a madder, madder, madder, madder world" when we had a week of murders by White police of Black men who either did not have guns drawn or were even complying with orders from ofcrs. JERONIMO YANEZ and JOSEPH KAUSER. Then, fed up by White police shooting and killing unarmed Black men, MICAH JOHNSON (and possibly others) used the sniper skills afforded him by the U.S. military to kill A DOMESTIC ENEMY. Apparently, unlike American active-duty soldiers, he and any accomplices he might have had were good marksmen who didn't kill any civilians. Taken together with what we know about the DC Sniper and how he was possibly upset that he was flunked in sniper school (having only been designated an "expert shooter") or may have had a host of reasons for being upset, I suppose the military will develop a more stringent psychiatric evaluation for its sniper school candidates -- in much the same way that it developed more stringent combat readiness tests for both sexes around the same time that it opened all combat positions to women.
Military policies and practices aside, the mass shooting of 12 Dallas police officers resulting in the deaths of five on July 7th, 2016 may very well be the official start of the revolution that Gil Scott Heron told us would not be televised. It's definitely "The Big Payback". Then again, maybe the revolution began in March 2015 when dozens of Black Panthers marched through Austin, Texas with their guns drawn calling for the killing of pigs. No matter what incident or point in time you choose to put forth as the start of the revolution, the fact remains that racial tensions are extremely high and a tempest is brewing -- a tempest that government should have seen coming -- even if President Obama won't say it in no uncertain terms or clearly acknowledge that it's "Blacks" (as opposed to "a certain segment of our fellow citizenry") who are not being treated as equals.
In the two years since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri (though he might not have been completely innocent of any wrongdoing), there have been numerous executions by White police of clearly unarmed Black men. A telling video exists showing Walter Scott being shot in the back as he ran and then showing the guilty officer planting a weapon on his corpse. But these unjustified shootings by police didn't start in 2014 -- not by any means. Let's think back to 1999 when NYC cops shot at Amadou Diallo 41 times from close range -- only hitting him 19 times -- as Mr. Diallo retrieved his wallet in an act of compliance toward the police. As Bruce "the Boss" Springsteen might say, "Same song, different verse". What's more is that, after mortally wounding a "suspect", police often deny medical attention to their victims. This raises serious questions as to whether or not many cops even see their Black victims as humans.
All things considered, we're now beginning to see a tit-for-tat take place. Blacks see that we are being treated unfairly and killed indiscriminately by trigger-happy cops. In response, the Black Panthers have encouraged violence against cops and Micah Johnson pulled it off. Now police are on high alert and Capitol Hill was put on lock-down just hours after the Dallas massacre, though for a different and relatively insignificant reason. It's worth noting that U.S. Capitol Police have gotten and acted on word of false security threats from DC's fictional and satirical newspaper, The Onion, on multiple occasions -- much to the humor of the intelligent life forms in the city. That said, what they perceive to be a threat is not necessarily anything that would scare a rational human. Even so, police nationwide DO have logical reasons to be afraid - to be very afraid. There's no telling where the next sniper bullet will come from. That, in turn, gives Black Americans more of a reason to fear the police insomuch as those who used to kill us for the color of our skin now have a more legitimate reason for killing us -- our retaliatory violence. That leaves one to wonder when and how the madness will end. Some would say we all should take a long deep breath, calm down and talk diplomatically. I'll take things a bit further.
WE MUST HAVE THE HARD CONVERSATIONS. We must talk about the implicit bias that drives the life-altering decisions made by police, judges, employers and others in our society. The racists have become less straightforward in how they speak of Blacks. They're politically correct these days, which makes it harder to detect their racist behavior. However, the outcomes of their racist decisions are the same -- and often the outcome is an unjustified death. We need to realize that Micah Johnson was considered a hero by many Americans when he served in the military and was willing to kill non-Americans; but, quickly lost that standing with some people when he killed five officers. That said, it's not just those with badges who are determining which lives are valuable. I'll dare say that the majority of Americans value some lives more than others. It's the American way.
If we fail to have the hard conversations, we can't expect to have peace. After the 1968 riots, people calmed down. Forty-eight years later the Black race is not much better off. When Baltimore erupted into riots in 2015 following the police murder of Freddie Gray, public officials began to talk about offering economic opportunity to poor and long-neglected communities. Where did that conversation go??? As Frederick Douglass said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has and it never will." If poor and oppressed people don't stand up for themselves and hold their ground at any cost, then the powers that be will figure that they don't have to keep their word. We must organize for power, be in it for the long haul and find ways to hurt those in power. That hurt can be as simple as hitting them in the pocket as was done with the Boycotts and sit-ins of the Civil Rights Movement. But there must be some form of pain and discomfort that is imparted to the vanguards of the capitalist system who treat poor, Black people as though we were sub-human. What's more is that, if Blacks, Whites and others who have resources and privilege don't come together in an organized way that enables us to get the types of reparations that are most sensible for this day and age, then we'll just see more of these massacres of police and the tit-for-tat described above.
But let's be clear: Blacks are getting the message that White Capitalists are going to screw us one way or the other. First there was slavery. Then there was Jim Crow Law. Then there was mass incarceration and racial profiling which led to jail time. Now we aren't even making it to booking. We're being executed on the streets of America. Then, given the jurisprudence of court cases wherein the vast majority of police officers who shoot unarmed suspects are not taken to trial and fewer are convicted, it all just seems so unfair. Right??? However, this perception of unfairness can be turned into a teachable moment in that it doesn't make sense for us to apply to a system for redress of grievances when that system has never regarded our lives very highly in the first place. As we seek resolution of any matter from the oppressor, we give that oppressor another opportunity to mistreat us. So, Blacks along with our non-Black sympathizers and supporters need to put our heads together so as to devise a set of demands that causes the powers that be to feel forced to comply and we need to give them the strong impression that we won't let up -- that we'll do whatever we see fit to do in order to improve the state of the American Negro for once and for all. Let's also address the socioeconomic issues that tend to boil over into these explosive situations. Just having people calm down is not enough. It's a good first step. Let's not stop there.
Let us ensure that BLACKS are not killed unjustifiably by the boys in BLUE and vice versa. If we stop BLASTing each other, then there won't be any BLAME to go around.