Saturday, 26 April 2008

Hunting seasons

I have just seen the appalling news of the acquittal on all counts of the police detectives who fired 50 bullets at three unarmed black men and killed one of them, Sean Bell, the night before he was to be married. No doubt we’ll now hear a lot of pious comments about how it’s not really about racism and none of the accused is individually a racist. (In fact, two of the three cops are black).

But that’s not the point. Condi Rice famously insisted that George Bush was personally not hostile to people of other races in reference to his historic incompetence after Hurricane Katrina. We’re supposed to believe that if a guy is nice to his dinner guests, it doesn’t matter where his priorities lie when ruling the nation or when letting fly with his service weapon.

I wrote here a few months ago about a Long Island suburbanite who awoke one night to find his teenage son fleeing from a crowd shouting racist threats in his front lawn. He went out, fired a shot at them and killed one. That guy, an adult black male protecting his family in the middle of the night, was convicted of murder.

One would have to be very comfortable as well as naïve to not see a pattern in these incidents. Black males simply are not protected by the police apparatus in our liberal city, nor are they allowed to protect themselves. Whether you want to call that racist or use some other term, it remains a fact.

The police union and the upper echelon of the department bear a heavy burden on this case as well for closing ranks and implicitly justifying the crazy behavior of these loose cannons.

There will be solemn marches and speeches now, and I will certainly attend them to show my disgust. But police work in this city has now become more difficult, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see people a lot more trigger-happy when facing tense moments involving the cops. After all, if they can fire at you 50 times with impunity when you don’t have a gun, what is the logic of cooperating when you do?

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