22 September 2016 - DrSunshine.org

Murder By Police

According to people who keep track of these things, the police have been killing totally unarmed black men at a rate of two a week, for the past 30 years. Before that, Dr Sunshine thinks it's safe to assume that the killing rate was substantially worse. And, the killings have been almost entirely "legal" in the sense that almost none of the shooters have been convicted of a crime. All of this you probably already know, but were unaware of one or two years ago. Dr Sunshine was, anyway.

Here's something you don't know. A former officer on the Berkeley police force, who is a friend of Dr Sunshine, quit that job after a few years because he could not tolerate working in an environment awash in racism, both in terms of social behavior among the officers and in the course of official conduct on the job. Berkeley is generally thought of as one of the most racially tolerant communities in the USA, if not the world. If the Berkeley police department is fundamentally racist, Dr Sunshine thinks it unlikely that there is a single police department in the entire USA that isn't fundamentally racist.

The public knows, now, about the frequent killings of black people by police because of videos made mostly by civilians, occasionally shot by police dash cams or body cams. Were it not for the videos, especially the civilian videos, the public at large would still be blissfully, not to mention willfully, unaware. Dr Sunshine didn't know until the video era, and he's been paying attention. Not enough attention, apparently, but probably at a level well above average.

From videos of police shootings, it's clear that the Second Amendment applies, in practice, only to white people. If you're white, you can, in most states, carry your AK-47 while shopping at Walmart, even though it terrifies most of the customers. But, if you're a black twelve-year-old, you can't even take your toy pistol to the park without having a patrol car drive up at high speed, skid to a stop, and disgorge two armed police officers who kill you with a fusillade of bullets in three seconds flat. And, if you're black, you'd better not try to buy a BB gun at the Walmart either, because a police officer will shoot you dead while you're on your way to the checkout line. These are consequences of institutional racism, and the only reason we know about them is because of civilian video.

Mike Pence has a solution for the problem of institutional racism that surely exists in nearly every police department, nearly every school, nearly every department store, nearly every business office, nearly everywhere people congregate in the USA. The Pence solution is for everyone to stop talking about institutional racism. No doubt he agrees with Kathy Miller, the chair of the Trump campaign in Mahoning County, Ohio, who said in a TV interview today that there was no racism in her county before Obama was elected. She asserted that the Obama presidency caused a sudden groundswell of racism that simply did not exist before. The county chair has since stated that her comments on TV were "inappropriate". She failed to admit that they were wrong.

Robert Pittenger, a Trump supporter and member of the United States Congress representing a district including Charlotte, North Carolina, asserted, right on TV for all to see and hear, that black people hate white people because white people are successful and they're not. He agrees with Miller, the aforementioned Trump county chair in Ohio, that any black person who, in the past fifty years, has not been successful has only himself to blame. This atrocious lie comes up so often that Dr Sunshine presumes it must be a talking point of the alt right. Pittenger has since admitted that he regrets his comments. He did not, however, retract them.

The North Carolina legislature has a solution to institutional racism that is similar to the Pence solution. They passed a law, signed by the governor, requiring that all police video footage be sealed from public access and released only under court order. Body cam, dash cam, whatever. After the law goes into effect next month, the public will no longer be able to see their police force murder black citizens. They will have to rely entirely on civilian videos. Probably won't matter much, since that's mostly what we've been relying on, anyway. Besides, a third of the American population thinks the people who got shot had it coming, anyway.

People like Pence, Pittenger, and Miller, and of course, Trump himself and a host of his supporters, have bought into racism, lock, stock, and barrel. They're so deep into it, they don't even know it exists. To people of their ilk, racism is just part of the woodwork. They can't even be part of a civilized discourse on racism, let alone contribute to a solution. Shame on America for providing a comfortable home for such despicable creatures.

Cheers
Dr Sunshine

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