Previous posts in this discussion:
PostThoughts on Ferguson Case (Joe Listo, Brazil, 12/07/14 5:50 am)
I ask WAISers if, in fact, a crime was committed in Ferguson. In reviewing the facts behind what occurred in Missouri, we have that the deceased (Michael Brown) attacked a police officer and kicked a squad car, tried to flee the scene, failed to obey when ordered to stop, turned around and came in the direction of the police officer who at that point had unholstered his gun. Is it fair to assume that a person who runs in the direction of a police officer, after having already attacked him, is in a state of mind that would lead to a friendly conversation? I would venture to say "no." He charged the police officer with the clear intention of attacking him.
When confronted with the situation of having again to deal with his aggressor, the police officer responded in the way most of us would: stop the aggressor. He fired because he knew Brown would not stop, since it is a fact that he had ignored previous commands to do so.
Why it was not logical for Brown to comply with the officer´s orders is beyond my comprehension. He could have chosen not to resist, and later press charges against the Ferguson police if he thought his civil rights had been violated. However, he chose to confront a legally constituted authority, which resulted in his death and problems for the police officer which will last for the rest of his life.
Following these events, the leftist American media did their best to create a climate of revenge, crying "racism" all over the country. Were the events in Ferguson triggered by racism? I would say "no." But we have to put ourselves in the police officer´s shoes. Brown attacked the officer and was about to attack him again. Regardless of color, if a heavy-set man like Brown runs in our direction for a second attempt on our physical integrity, would we not stop him? What were the options available for the officer when Brown kept coming at him even knowing that he had already drawn his gun? In order to keep coming at a police officer with gun in hand, a person must be in an altered state of mind--either drunk, on drugs or both.
I do not think the police officer acted differently from any other law enforcement official around the world. A Brazilian was killed by the UK police a few years ago, and I did not see anyone mentioning racism when the police later stated he was shot because he "looked like a terrorist." In Brazil, you kick a police squad car or fail to stop when told to and you are dead, no matter your color. But in the US it seems police officers have to put their lives at risk when dealing with African-Americans to avoid the mayhem we saw in Ferguson.
JE comments: The crux of the Michael Brown matter is that it reopened racial wounds in the US, a phase in our history that had been pronounced "over" with Obama's election in 2008. The facts surrounding the case are secondary--unless, of course, you are Michael Brown or Darren Wilson. African-Americans continue to feel oppressed by the police (institutional racism), and similar incidents on Staten Island (and most recently, Cleveland) only underscore this perception.
As Joe Listo reminds us, there's no doubt that Brown would still be alive if he had complied with Wilson's orders. But this doesn't lessen the political and cultural significance of the event.
Massoud Malek (next in queue) has a very different take on the Ferguson-NYC-Cleveland cases.
Thoughts on Ferguson and NYC Cases
(Bienvenido Macario, USA
12/08/14 7:06 AM)
Here's my take on Ferguson, NYC and other recent police-involved shootings and deaths. Basically there are two types of police actions. One is protecting the law and the other is enforcing the law. Protecting the law suggests the members of the community are disciplined, middle-class, and above all they trust and respect the police.
But enforcing law is necessary for the police to do their job. Telling the citizens "please obey the law" just won't cut it. Here the police must be assertive and must be prepared to give chase if the "person of interest" refuses to obey the directions of an agent of the law and decides to flee. The enforcement of the law has a higher chance that baton, Taser, tear gas and guns might be used. People could get hurt or even die.
I would assume an African-American dressed in a suit in the financial district of a major city would not be reacting the same way as that of the suspects in Ferguson and New York City.
As DC Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton has said, in certain areas of American towns and cities, young African-Americans have grown distrustful of the authorities. I don't know what caused it or how to fix it.
Now if we look at these cases and compare them with those happening in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines, one would say suspects in the US have far more rights than in developing countries.
A case in point: after Pres. Obama left the Philippines on April 29, 2014, a born-again Christian pastor, Pablo Martínez, was killed in a suspicious vehicular accident. He was riding his bicycle along Roxas Blvd, when an SUV hit him from behind. But a witness claimed the SUV deliberately ran over him after he fell from his bicycle. Yet the police ruled it "an unfortunate accident."
The problem is that Pastor Martínez was one of the 16 officers and soldiers who escorted Benigno Aquino Jr. out of the airplane when he was assassinated on August 21, 1983. In February 2006, former Sgt. Pablo Martinez revealed in a Time magazine interview that it was Eduardo Cojuangco, the cousin of Cory Aquino, who ordered the murder of Aquino, Jr.
Even more interesting is the fact that Pres. Aquino III refused to entertain Pablo Martínez's offer to testify in court and implicate his uncle Eduardo "Danding," the 10th richest "Filipino" with a net worth of $1.4 billion as of July 2013. Martínez's son, who is in the Philippine Air Force, thinks his father was murdered.
JE comments: I'm not sure I see a clean distinction between "protecting" and "enforcing" the law. Neither is necessary if everyone is already in compliance. This doesn't happen anywhere--except perhaps in Singapore?
To the race factor of policing in the US and presumably elsewhere, we should also consider the issue of class. Will you have better luck with the cops if you're a rich, professional-looking African-American, or a poor Appalachian white? Bienvenido Macario's hypothetical Black guy in a business suit might react differently if approached by the police, but the police would probably treat him differently, too.
Thoughts on Ferguson, NYC Cases
(Richard Hancock, USA
12/09/14 3:40 AM)
The Wall Street Journal of November 25th has an opinion on the Ferguson matter in an article, "The Other Ferguson Tragedy," by Jason L. Riley, an African-American who is an author and a member of the WSJ editorial board. He writes, "The black teen in Ferguson, Mo., robbed a store, attacked a white police officer and was shot dead while resisting arrest. That was the conclusion of a St. Louis County grand jury that brought no charges against the officer after considering all of the physical evidence, along with eyewitness accounts from blacks in the vicinity of the confrontation."
He adds: "According to the FBI, homicide is the leading cause of death among young black men, who are 10 times more likely to be murdered than are their white counterparts... Blacks are just 13% of the population but responsible for a majority of all murders in the US...Blacks commit violent crimes at 7 to 10 times the rate that whites do. The facts that their victims tend to be of the same race suggests that young black men in the ghetto live in danger of being shot by each other, not cops... The police are in these communities because that's where the emergency calls originate, and they spend much of their time trying to stop residents of the same race from harming one another."
He continues, saying "Blacks that bring up this problem are sell-outs. Whites who mention it are racists. But so long as young black men are responsible for an outsize portion of violent crime, they will be viewed suspiciously by law enforcement and fellow citizens of all races."
I think that Mr. Riley has stated the Ferguson problem correctly. The New York City problem of police arresting a large black man with the use of a chokehold which resulted in his death is another matter. I think that most people who saw the pictures of police action in that case will agree that the police made an overuse of force, although they had no way of knowing that the victim suffered from asthma.
As a soldier in WWII, I was a ward man in a Tokyo hospital, working with shell-shocked soldiers immediately after Japan surrendered. We sometimes used a chokehold to subdue a large strong man. Fortunately, we didn't kill anyone. When I was a boy on a ranch in New Mexico, the standard method of subduing a wild bronco was to rope him around the neck and choke him down. You could then tie up one of his feet and start the process of breaking him to ride. The chokehold is harsh but effective.
I don't know what the answer is to this problem of black criminals. We should start by having more black policemen. I think that it is terribly wrong to have no black policemen in Ferguson, where the population is 70% black.
I lived in Las Cruces, New Mexico for 11 years, where the population was 65% Hispanic. The politicians there made a deal that the Sheriff should always be Hispanic while the county judge was non-Hispanic. One of the Hispanic sheriffs was extremely corrupt but another one, named Viramontes, was one of the best lawmen that I have ever known. A great many of the criminals were Hispanics and whenever there was a standoff, Sheriff Viramontes would appear on the scene and, in most cases, was able to talk the criminal into surrendering. He was a revered lawman in the county who served for more than 20 years.
My feeling is that a great part of crime in the US stems from boys who belong to families without men. Some women can raise boys to be good citizens, but many cannot. I think a boy especially needs to belong to a family with a reputable father figure. I also feel that we need more male teachers in our school systems, which tend to be served almost exclusively by women teachers. Men can more easily control boys because, as in the case of horses, the colts do not challenge the stallions.
I discussed this problem with the Dean of Education at the University of Oklahoma. He agreed with me, but said that most men who made a career of education didn't stay long in the classroom but moved up to administrative positions. He said that it was not politically viable to pay male teachers more than female teachers. Perhaps the solution is to raise all teaching salaries which would attract more and better people, both male and female.
JE comments: I absolutely agree with Richard Hancock's last sentence--but unfortunately, the trend seems to be going in the opposite direction.
Mr Riley's WSJ op-ed makes the "Blacks should just behave" argument, which strikes me as hopelessly naive. Will marginalized African-American youth pick up the Journal and suddenly become model citizens? Note too that African-American commentators have the "right" to write such things, whereas a white person does not. I am reminded of the now-disgraced Bill Cosby. "Do as I say, not as I do."
How many in WAISworld have watched the Eric Garner chokehold video? I did. Did Garner resist arrest? Yes. Was he also the victim of homicide? You make that judgment:
A Death at Heathrow, 2010
(John Heelan, UK
12/09/14 9:57 AM)
Regarding the WAIS discussion on Eric Garner's death after being placed in a chokehold, there was a similar case in the UK involving private security guards.
JE comments: Jimmy Mubenga also cried "I can't breathe" while being pinned by security guards to an airplane seat. Mr Mubenga was on a deportation flight from Heathrow to his native Angola. An eerie precursor to Staten Island.
- A Death at Heathrow, 2010 (John Heelan, UK 12/09/14 9:57 AM)
- Thoughts on Ferguson, NYC Cases (Richard Hancock, USA 12/09/14 3:40 AM)