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I know I'm late.  But fuck it though.  My two cents.

I am a young (ish) black and Latino male.  I've been detained and subjected to searches more times than I can remember.  Some of them for good reason.  Some of them...not so much.  And not so much recently.  That's one of the nice things about getting older, I guess.  I've been arrested.  I was a juvenile offender.  I've been in a cell.  I was the sort of kid to whom our man joe would have gladly handed a bullet in a moment of depression.  But I was also the kind of kid that was very respectful towards law enforcement.  Everything was yes sir, no sir.  It had to be.  I think that might have kept me safe in a lot of otherwise bad situations.  I was deferential too.  We can talk all we want about what the law says or about crime data, but when you find yourself detained by a police, especially if it's late or there just aren't many people out, you very quickly realize that it's just you and him and whatever happens it's your word against his.  And so you put your hands over your head, you let him kick open your legs.  You sit on the curb, arms and legs stretched out and crossed.  You cooperate.  Yes sir.  No sir.

I didn't think that this was a particularly strange way to think about things until I went to college and spent more time around white people that were not the sort of white people that were comfortable in the sorts of places where I spent most of my time.  I had caught glimpses of this before though, DJing parties where drunk white kids would argue with police outside of suburban homes, red cup in hand, yelling "what's your badge number?!"  I found their behavior almost unfathomable.  And insufferable.  I often enjoyed watching the more obnoxious kids get ticketed for open containers.  Whether or not some police abuse their authority, the fact of the matter is that they do a difficult and vital job and they deserve to be treated with respect.  And it boggled my mind to learn that in some places, people grew up not understanding that the failure to show that respect might lead to physical violence.  This kind of behavior is forever contrasted in my mind with a scene outside of another party, one that my parents threw when I was a kid.  I remember my father and a very understanding police officer negotiating a solution to the parking problem that our little get together had caused on our block.  "Alright then, you folks have a fine evening."  Handshake.  No tickets.  No intimidation.  Just respect.  To me, that's the model.  That's how it's supposed to be.  On both sides.  And anything less than that kind of respect can result in some very bad outcomes.  And I've seen that unfold too.

So look, when I read a story like that of Mr. Carter my perspective is this.  I don't know what happened.  But I do know that police sometimes abuse people in their custody.  They sometimes even rape and kill people in their custody.  There are police that have gone to prison behind these offenses.  And there are police that are still walking around like that's okay.  But I've never heard of someone shooting themselves, whilst hand cuffed in the back of a squad car.  And having been subject to more than my fair share of searches, I find it hard to believe that the police could have missed a handgun after subjecting him to two pat downs.  I find it easier to believe that they shot him, even if I can't think of a reason why they might do this intentionally.  Call me biased. 

But I obviously realize that I am not in a position to say that with any degree of certainty.  I'm running off a hunch.  But I think that this warrents further investigation, preferrably by an outside agency.  The video posted demonstrates that it's entirely possible that the young man shot himself, even in that compromised position. 

The bottom line for me is this.  We give the state a monopoly on force.  Those who work on behalf of that state then, those trusted with the power to exercise that force, should be subject to as much scruitany as possible.  I think we can all agree on that.

Anyway, happy Friday!
Changed Change Reason Date
nogodsforme Informed by personal experience and thoughtful reason September 07, 2012, 11:05:23 AM
screwtape good post September 07, 2012, 06:43:44 AM