Monday, September 26, 2016



If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made, I can about say probably 70 percent of those had out-of-state IDs." 
-- Todd Walther, spokesman for the North Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, describing those arrested during the protests in Charlotte last week.

Seventy percent were from out of state.

Seventy percent of those protesting in Charlotte are outside agitators.

Seventy percent.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, September 22, 2016, police spokesman Todd Walther said with confidence seventy percent of those arrested during the violence in Charlotte, North Carolina this week were “instigators that are coming in from the outside.”

The violence in Charlotte was instigated by agitators coming from outside the state.

Not by people who actually live there.

Outside instigators.

The implication being, as it was after Ferguson, the violence isn’t a legitimate expression of rage and frustration by a population fed up with the perception of police brutality and abuse of power. That statement automatically delegitimizes the protests themselves, as indeed it was designed to do. Walther’s statement delegitimizes not the violence – or rather not just the violence, which may or may not be a legitimate and necessary expression of protest depending on your point of view – but the entire idea of black people protesting altogether.  The idea that the vast majority of those arrested are confirmed to be in reality outside actors, agents provocateur, immediately taints the entire protest itself and confirms for many whites that those black people rioting in the streets of Charlotte aren’t really yelling about civil rights at all – instead they’re smashing things and lighting shit on fire because, you know, that’s what black people do.

That’s why the police have to shoot them in the first place.


There’s just one problem with Walther’s statement: it’s completely and totally false.



Oh, right. You’re right, of course. There are many things wrong with Walther’s statement beyond its falseness. You’re right and we’ll get to that. Bear with me for a bit.

Walther made that statement on Thursday.

On Friday he was – in the vernacular of our times – forced to “walk it back.”

In more precise terms: he lied.

Walther acting as the official spokesman for the North Carolina police union was completely wrong, deliberately so. He lied.  In reality, a full seventy-nine percent of those arrested since the violence began in Charlotte were in point of fact residents of Charlotte and all of the remainder were from surrounding areas in North Carolina. None of those arrested were from out of state. Not one.

The official spokesman for the North Carolina police union, a man you are supposed to be able to trust, lied. 

During an interview with the Charlotte Observer on Friday, Walther was forced to admit his comments were “inaccurate and merely based on speculation.”

“I didn’t quote facts,” said Walther. “It’s speculation. That’s all it was.”

Speculation. Well, that part is the truth.

But then he lied again, because that’s not all it was and he knows it – or he wouldn’t have made the original statement in the first place.

Walther knew his statement was speculation when he made it, yet he made it anyway and deliberately didn’t caveat it with the part where it wasn’t based on factual information. That is a lie by omission.

Why make the statement, that particular statement, in the first place?

We hear this statement, this particular statement, in nearly every case where black people take to the street following a police shooting. It was outside instigators. Agents provocateur.

Why make that particular statement?

Walther’s comment as the official spokesman for the police of North Carolina is a clear indicator of institutional bias. It’s an indicator of the fear and contempt the police hold for the people they are supposed to protect. It’s a dog whistle directed at a specific population. Walther was, in point of fact, telling white people what they wanted to hear: this isn’t about racism or inequality or abuse of power, no, instead the protests were mostly caused by black thugs who just wanted to smash things and light shit on fire. Exactly what most of those white people believe in the first place.

It’s deliberate confirmation bias, otherwise there was no point whatsoever in saying it in the first place.

And the message is this: the police were completely justified in shooting Keith Lamont Scott because you just can’t trust black men not to resort to violence. Nothing to see here, move along.

And, by Walther’s own admission, that was a deliberate lie.

And so the question at this point is this: how do you know?

How can you trust the police? How can you trust the police when their own spokesman by his own admission is engaged in speculation and not facts? If he lied about the simple things, if he lied to reinforce stereotypes, to favor one part of the population and delegitimize another, then how can you believe him when he tells you his officers were justified in killing a citizen?

He might be right, those officers might have been justified, but how would you know?


After two days of protests and violence in Charlotte I wrote a number of Facebook posts.

One began with this headline:

 North Carolina Governor Declares State of Emergency After Another Night of Violence.

The post ridiculed the idea that it took two days of violence to get North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory’s attention.  It took two days of violence and then instead of actually addressing the cause of the violence, the old white men did what old white men always do when faced with angry people in the streets: they declared a state of emergency and called in the military.

I suggested that the entire state of emergency could have been avoided if only those supposed leaders like Governor McCrory had declared an emergency after Michael Brown was shot to death in Ferguson (or Trayvon Martin, or Dontre Hamilton, or Eric Garner, or John Crawford III, or Ezell Ford, or Dante Parker, or Tanisha Anderson, or Akai Gurley, or Tamir Rice, or Rumain Brisbon, or Jerame Reid, or Tony Robinson, or Phillip White, or Eric Harris, or Walter Scott, or Freddie Gray, or etcetera and there are many etceteras going all the way back to Selma, Alabama), if only McCrory and those like him had taken action at any of those pivotal moments, if only they’d declared a state of emergency then, and taken the steps necessary to rein in and retrain the forces under their command, taken steps to address the reason for the protests in the first place, then perhaps Charlotte might never have happened.

But then what would you expect of a governor who has worked deliberately and systematically with North Carolina’s legislature to pass laws disenfranchising and marginalizing those they dislike – in particular people of color?  

I also mentioned that after two nights of violence, another black man, Justin Carr, lay dead in the street (he had been shot in the head and later died at a hospital).

I ended that post with this:

Sometimes your only reason for existence is to serve as a metaphor for larger things.

I asked my readers on Facebook to think on that carefully.

Now I rarely use words by accident.

I rarely write things that are only what they appear, one layer deep, and nothing more (yes, including the jokes and the humor pieces and even the bits about my cats). I rarely write things that are not part of some larger context.

Earlier in the week I wrote about choice.

I wrote a Facebook post that went viral where I talked about being forced to take sides. You can find the full text of that essay here on American News X, but the heart of that post leads off with

When you attack my friends for their sex or sexual orientation or their identity or their race or the color of their skin or who they love, then you force me to take a side. You or them.

and that’s the larger context I was working within when I asked my readers to think about Charlotte.

That’s the context I was working within, knowing that not everybody who read the later posts would be aware of that context or bother to go looking for it – and yet would respond with confidence anyway.

As I said, my post are rarely only as they seem.

And so I asked my Facebook audience to think about Charlotte as part of history with the implication being that the violence there is just the latest step in a march which stretches all the way back to 1965 and Bloody Sunday.

Naturally, I got mail.

[…] there's not a whole lot of credible information available right now. Family says Scott had a book, cops say he had a gun. […] The guy [Justin Carr]shot at the protests last night? People in the area say it was cops that did it […] cops say it was gang violence, or a personal beef, or whatever [..] it’s just as reasonable- to believe that the police shot and killed Mr. Scott because he was black as it is to think that he was killed because he pointed a gun at the officers on the scene. […]Now for all of us in Charlotte, you could also be forgiven for having not a clue that anything was going on last night.

Scott’s family says it was a book.

Cops say it was a gun.

People say it was cops who shot Carr.

Cops say it was gang violence or a personal dispute.

Maybe I believe the cops shot both men because they were black. Maybe I don’t.

Maybe I don’t have a clue as to what happened in Charlotte.

Perhaps this correspondent is right about everything, but how do you know?

How do you know?


Jim, it saddens me to see this post from you. I enjoy your banter most of the time, but you sir are now ranking yourself among other ignorant people. Did you not read your own news link? Or any others? The man [Keith Lamont Scott] was armed, a 2 time felon and the only witnesses to say otherwise were his family members, hmm. Video is being released to his family and other leaders of the community. Doesn't exactley [sic]sound like the moves of a coverup [sic]. ALSO, the man shot last night [Justin Carr], is not dead yet, but in critical condition, shot at an ATM by another civilian, please get your facts straight. Otherwise you are just being another part of the problem by misinforming people. Thanks, probably won't even read this of consider what I've said, but the truth is out there, promote that!

The truth is out there.

Scott’s family said he had a book.

The police say he had a gun.

Scott was a “second time” felon – but how would the cops have known that at the time, they hadn’t even identified him when he was shot. How would they know?

Hmmm, indeed.

And again, maybe this correspondent is right.

But how do you know?

The burden of proof is on the police, isn’t it?

I mean shouldn’t the burden of proof, of trust, be on the people who killed a man?

Shouldn’t it?

So what would make you trust the police?

No, the more precise question is: Why should you trust the police? 

Why should you trust the police?  Given that the Thin Blue Line always closes ranks around situations like this, given that the police control all of the evidence, given the history of shootings like this one, given that list of dead black men above, why should you trust the police?

No. Stop. Don’t roll your eyes and dismiss the question.

Don’t resort to politics and don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean. If you’re a conservative, the police are right. If you’re a liberal, the family of the dead black man are right. Don’t do that. Have the moral courage to put your politics aside for one goddamned minute and answer the question, coldly and logically: why should you trust the police? Why should any citizen trust the police?

In general, why should you trust the police?

In the specifics, why should people of color trust the police?

What untainted, uninvolved, unbiased mechanisms exist to provide us with factual data?

What leaders, what politicians, what legislatures, exist that we can all trust to police those who police us?

What history exists which demonstrate the police are trustworthy in cases such as this one? What history demonstrates to people of color that they can expect justice or even the same level of scrutiny normal in the death of a white citizen?

What power structure exists that we can turn to for consistent and unvarnished truth, for unbiased judgement, for an honest and just investigation of the events? One that we can all trust to be honest and just without question, every time.

What source of information can we find regarding this event, or the one before, a source without an agenda and free of manipulation, one that provides detailed facts without accidental or deliberate distortion, and one that is so consistent in its duty as the watchdog of the republic for all citizens equally that we all can believe it every time?

If this was your father, your brother, your son, dead at the hands of police, where do you go for the truth? Truth you can trust?

While the protests raged in Charlotte, out in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Officer Betty Shelby shot another unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, to death during a routine traffic stop. Shelby claimed she was in fear of her life – in fact she said she’d never been so afraid. And yet, video of the shooting clearly shows Crutcher with his hands up and his back to Shelby when she shot him. Granted Crutcher was not complying with Officer Shelby’s orders, but he also clearly wasn’t menacing her – and even the authorities were forced to admit this.

Shelby was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

So again, why should you trust the police?

How can you trust the word of an officer who is so terrified of a black man that she shot him in the back?  

Without that video it would be the officer’s word against a dead man’s.  The Thin Blue Line closes around her, the investigation is conducted by the police, the forensic evidence is all gathered and processed by the police. And without that video, there would be nothing, nothing, to dispute the officer’s story.

And that is true in far, far too many such cases.

Conversely, or perhaps as an aside, far too often if there is video it’s not clear and provides no proof either way – or it’s subject to erasure or manipulation or “malfunction.”

So, how do you know?

How do you as a citizen know?

No. I said stop it. Don’t roll your eyes and dismiss the question. Have the courage to face it head on. How. Do. You. Know? As an American, as a citizen, how do you know?

What, specifically, gives you reason to trust the word of the police?

Spell it out. List the reasons, line by line, one after the other.

Answer the question without politics. Without race. Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts. Why should should Americans trust their police? Why? Name ten indisputable reasons based on fact. Go.




Can’t do it, can you?

And doesn’t that bother you?

Doesn’t that bother you as a citizen? Regardless of race, regardless of political party, doesn’t it concern you that you don’t have any real way to know?

Doesn’t that bother you as a cop? As a cop don’t you want to be trusted? Taken at your word? Held to a higher standard? Part of a trusted cadre, a brotherhood of justice and truth, just like in the comic books? Doesn’t it bother you that I can’t take you at your word? That I am forced to doubt you every single time I see a black man bleeding in the street? Well?  

Doesn’t bother you as a politician? As a leader? As a governor? As a mayor? As a lawmaker? As the town council? Doesn’t it bother you that the citizens of your community – that people of color – can’t trust your police force?

Or don’t you care?

Are you comfortable with the “truth” being whatever your gut tells you based on skin color and political party?

Are you comfortable with the current state of affairs? Riot and violence? Protest? Another citizen of whatever color dead in the street? If you believe black lives matter, blue lives matter, all lives matter, then doesn’t this bother you?

Doesn’t the hypocrisy bother you?

I mean, let’s be honest here, shall we? Those who hate and fear the government most, those who tell us the government cannot be trusted, those who sneer and dismiss every single word the government says as a lie, are the ones right now telling me to believe the police without question.

Ironic, that, wouldn’t you say?

Especially ironic, given that many police officers themselves are conservatives who tell me that I can’t trust the government.

Why should I trust the police when I can’t even trust the spokesman for the police union not to lie, not to engage in fact free speculation and deliberate falsehoods? Why should I trust the authority of the police when they themselves don’t trust governmental authority? And, again, isn’t it ironic that those who hate unions most of all are the ones telling me to trust the police union?  I digress.

Politics isn’t proof.

So what then?

The press? You believe in the accuracy of the press? What in recent years has given you reason to trust the press? Be specific. Show your work.

The politicians? The man on the street? The mob? Me?

How do you know?


The truth of the matter is that we don’t know.

We have no way of knowing.

And we should.

In that example above, I didn’t ask my readers to take a side. But they did anyway.

Because in the absence of proof, in the absence of trust, in the absence of justice, they have little option. They must take a side, we must all take a side. And even if you chose to ignore the situation, even if you go blithely on with your life pretending dead black men in the street don’t concern you, you’ve still made a choice.

And that choice is not based on fact or truth or rightness, but because we have been forced to take a side in a political war.

Those we should be able to trust, the police, the press, our leaders, are the least trustworthy, the least reliable.

Until we start holding these agencies to higher standards, until we hold our leaders and our guardians to account, until we demand proof, until we demand liberty and justice for all, until we hold ourselves to higher standards as citizens, until then, our cities will burn.

This is not a black and white issue.

This is not liberal or conservative issue.

This is not a black lives matter issue or a blue lives matter issue.

This is not a Republican or Democratic Party issue.

This is an issue of justice for each and every one of us.

It’s a matter of trust.


Up above I said something many of you walked right on past without a second glance.

But others of you caught it. Some of you saw a single word and it pulled you up short.  That word made you raise an eyebrow and frown. That word made you open your mouth … and then close it on a hard straight line. That word has you even now reaching for your keyboard in protest. 

That word is perception.

“…the perception of police brutality and abuse of power.”

Because we see the death of Keith Lamont Scott through the eyes of our particular politics instead of in the cold hard light of truth, many of you didn’t give that line a second glance.

But some of you are outraged.

Outraged that I might be insinuating the protests and the anger on the streets of Charlotte (and Ferguson, and Los Angeles, and New York, and Detroit, and Baltimore, and Tulsa, and Madison, and Brighton, and Cleveland, and Milwaukee, and all of those places back to Selma itself) might somehow be invalid, somehow nothing more than a perception of police abuse where none really exists.

And it may be so.

But how can you know?   

I used that word on purpose.

Because that’s what this is about. Perception. Keith Lamont Scott, lying dead in the street is about perception. His death is a metaphor for larger things, for how we see each other and most especially how we see our protectors, our leaders, and our nation.

This is about trust. And trust is about perception.

The police – and the press and our politicians – must not only be worthy of trust, they themselves should want our trust as citizens above all. For our society to survive, for our cities to remain unburned, we must perceive them as trustworthy.

But trust, like respect, cannot be forced at the muzzle of a gun.

Trust must be earned. By every action, by every word.

To be trusted, you must be worthy of trust.

For trust, there must be justice.

And if you are not, if you are not worthy of trust as police, as leaders, as the press, then you must be held to account by those whose confidence you have betrayed.

And thus it falls to us, you and me.

If we want a better nation, we have to be better citizens.


  1. Two weeks ago, I got up in the middle of sipping soup. Because a woman in my lunch group had just asked me what I thought of that "worthless footballer not standing for the national anthem just to get attention." This same woman had been angering me for weeks with her haughty dismissive attitude towards Black Lives Matter. I repeatedly explained the need, the statistics, the difference in cop on white/cop on black violence. I told her that the "footballer" did want attention -- to the fact that Black Americans were not getting the same treatment, the same justice from the cops. She again dismissed me; and when I walked out, she shouted that I was "being ridiculous" - I shouted back. (Regrettable manners, I know) to tell her I was choosing a side -- and that "her" side was so white as to have no idea what life was like in any other color. Yes, we must all choose a side.

    As a child, in 1964, in Louisiana, I saw black children riding in open pick up truck beds to their allegedly "separate but equal school" -- as equal as their "bus" one supposes? Our teacher opened class with the Pledge to the flag and the order for "All you children who hate N......s, raise your hands." I dropped out of school as a fourth grader, unable to stand it after about 12 weeks.

    I chose then, and I choose the same now.

    1. I love you. I'd like to think I have those kind of guts, but in reality, I don't know that I've ever been tested like that. You have my complete admiration, though.

    2. as a 57 yr old white woman, I love you. I have been in your shoes and made the same choice. and I'll make it again and again and again. thank you for sharing your story...

    3. I hope, if I am ever put to the test, I will have the courage of my convictions. I applaud you!

    4. Ive been trying for weeks to explain Kaepernicks motives; why he is doing what hes doing. My friends only see a spoiled black man not standing for the Nat'l Anthem. Even after they tell me they understand why he is protesting, they still complain about it. Especially his choice of venue. Heck, most of them dont even know that K'nick wasnt saying that he was oppressed, only that he is speaking for those who have. Surprisingly, too many people believe mistreatment of blacks is a recent phenomenon; tied to Obama, somehow. One funny aspect of the whole thing...people saying they would stop watching football to protest K'nicks actions, are still watching, but now its out of respect for the other players who do stand up. But, the hypocrisy of the whole thing is...do people stand up at home or the sports bar when the anthem is played? Ive never seen it. Personally, Im behind K'nick all the way. As a Jew, I have experience being discriminated against. Jews and blacks have a long history together. I was raised to have respect for for black people, and have had a black person in my life since birth, (not a parent).

    5. BRAVO!!!! A million ovations to you Mam!!

    6. Mine was the same year, as a 6th grader, and learning to deal with a new school in rural San Juaquin Valley, south of Lemoore. Who I saw were migrant or stationary farm/ranch workers kids who lived in ranch "housing" (some barely shacks, without running water).

  2. My father was Head of Finance of the Amsterdam City Police (highest non-uniformed in the corps). He died in September 2013, so he didn't have to live this.

    It's not hard to know his rebuttal, though: This isn't policing. In Amsterdam, only 10 % of applicants became officers, and for a good reason: You don't want clowns who want to "play" police on your force.

    1. I wonder what the percentage is in the United States police forces?

  3. Dayum. Out of the ball park again.

  4. In 1991, I saw members of the LAPD beat the hell out of Rodney King. I was 13 years old, and I knew that it was wrong. I then saw those officers acquitted, and I couldn't believe it. I remember watching the news footage of the riots, hearing lots of adults talk about how black people were ruining their own communities and looting, that violence doesn't solve anything. It's now 24 years since those riots, and other than my age, little has changed. The number of excuses being made for police brutality and murder stuns me, and I'm finding my faith in people that I thought that I knew shaken to the core. The same people who shook their heads in disgust at the LA riots also can't stomach Colin Kaepernick's peaceful protest. When I ask why they believe that the police are trustworthy, I'm told that since I don't do the job or are married to someone who does, that I can't possibly understand how dangerous and worrying it is. The police are a civilian force that is supposed to serve and protect, but that mantra has morphed into obey and submit. Demanding accountability of our police is every citizen's right and responsibility. I do not trust the police. I want to see the day when we can trust them, but that must indeed be earned, and I see little being done to move us forward on that path.

    1. I was married to someone who did the job. I don't trust them. He was a power hungry hate filled monster.

    2. I was at work the day the "verdicts" against the cops who beat up Rodney King. We had a TV in our coffee room and we packed in there
      to watch. Everyone stood there in shock for a couple minutes then turned around and went back to their desks. Pretty soon there were only two of us in there and as the other one walked out, I said quietly, "There's gonna be a war." I'd said it to myself, but the other guy turned around made a face and rolled his eyes at what he obviously considered my melodrama. The next morning he came to my desk and apologized. If you only give people one way to fight back, don't be surprised when they use it.

    3. You said, "I'm told that since I don't do the job or are married to someone who does, that I can't possibly understand how dangerous and worrying it is."

      My response to these types of statements is this, " you're right I don't know what they go through and I don't know how they feel. Exactly the same way I don't know how a person of color or a person of a different religion feels as they live their lives on a daily basis. It's very arrogant and presumptive for anyone to assume that they know how another feels or thinks and it is extremely disrespectful to tell someone else how they should feel or think because you think you know better.

      Or something to that effect. I've discovered that most people don't seem to think about it from that perspective when they make statements like the one you mentioned in your comment.

      At 47, I'm a little bit older than you, but I too remember the LA riots, and I remember being just as shocked as you say you were at the acquittals.

      I am a white woman of middle age. I cannot presume to understand how anyone significantly younger or older, of a different race, religion, orientation, or gender thinks or feels. I feel like as long as I keep that in mind when I'm thinking about how I perceive a situation to be, I tend to come out with a clearer perspective and typically don't lean on as many preconceived notions as I have in the past. I'm still learning how to perceive and feel and think about all of the things that happen in our world. I hope I do a better job today than I did yesterday, and I'll do my best to do a better job than that tomorrow.

  5. Meanwhile, the FBI until last year had a policy -- an *official* policy -- of not recording their interviews with suspects. Their reasoning? a) Juries believe FBI agents' testimony without those recordings, and b) juries don't understand the deceptive techniques that FBI agents use to get admissions from suspects, and will refuse to convict suspects if they hear those deceptive techniques on recordings.

    Will refuse to convict suspects if they hear what FBI agents *actually* say to get admissions or confession from suspects.

    Will refuse to convict if they have *full* knowledge of the interview and what was said, rather than the partial knowledge that the FBI wants them to have.

    And even though last year the FBI was forced under pressure to rescind their blanket prohibition of recording suspect interviews, they still have not put into place any policies forcing the recording of suspect interviews. Which basically says, "suspect interviews will still not be recorded."

    The rot starts at the top.

  6. Our police have become like the guards at Abu Grahb(sp?) prison. Each group that has come in has pushed the line of acceptable behavior just a little bit farther until they are now completely out of bounds.

  7. Sometime, a year or so ago, I heard an interview with Norm Stamper, former Chief of Police for the City of Seattle, talking about the WTO protests, the ones that are supposed to have set off this whole wave of violent actions between the police and civilians. Mr Stamper apologized and said that the biggest mistake he had made in his career was the "militarization" of the police. It changed their mission from Serve and Protect to something else, something where they saw their fellow citizens as enemies/other and ramped up the response to a level not seen before. A lot of this came about because of Homeland Security, the greatest farce to come out of the Twin Towers attacks, where all police agencies in the country were offered military equipment to make the whole country safer. Little towns with no budget suddenly had grants for SWAT gear, sniper rifles, assault weapons and half tracks - why shouldn't they take advantage, the grants were use or lose and they didn't have budgets for anything like this ever otherwise. We have not been made more secure by the proliferation of military hardware into police departments.

    1. The United States appears to have done an end run around The Posse Comitatus Act by simply militarizing the police. Federal aid to police forces, free military gear and training has turned police services into military forces. The police I see on TV look like soldiers and even have military vehicles, they don't look like the policemen I grew up with.

    2. I agree entirely. My husband was a retired Army, three war participant, his MOS was Combat Arms, he taught it, was front line and later recruited by cover agencies to do what the military wasn't supposed to do. He disliked the way the civilian police thought they were the military, they started calling everyone else "civilians". And even years ago when he was alive, there were a lot of misuse of force, that if they were properly trained would have been unnecessary. You don't empty your revolver into someone unless he has committed a capital crime and treating to commit more. Stealing, drugs, running away, not lying down are not a reason for killing someone!

  8. Indeed, how do we know. This is a pattern, of course, with all of these shootings. Someone is dead, the police immediately discredit him or her, make the dead person a bad person who deserved it. If there is violence, there is a black person giving away free hugs or donuts or some other type of "support the police" event. I swear, the news makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. Honestly, my son is 22 and my daughter is 20 and neither of them is interested in learning to drive. They take the bus. We are a family of terrified citizens and we just live with this stress ALL THE TIME. But another man is dead and the police say he deserved it. There is unrest and a little kid is giving the cops free hugs and donuts.

    1. Thats what really tears me apart. A black man not doing a darn thing gets killed by the police, and the next thing you know, somebody is posting his police record to somehow prove that they deserved to die that day.

      The Crutcher case is a stupid example, that some of my conservative friends tried to erase their guilty feelings with. His police record has almost nothing violent or even involving drugs. He had one shooting case dismissed. The remainder of his record are DUIs. But somehow, THAT record is proof that he deserved to die. I also pointed out to my friend that a guy in the helicopter said..."He must be on something". Nothing like tainting what people are watching; how would he know, except that it plays into too many people thoughts about what they think black people do all the time.

    2. And the stereotypes are getting people killed. And too many people think it's okay because he must have deserved it somehow. It's really hard to breathe sometimes.

  9. last night, I came across this video. it continues to haunt me, to make my stomach roil. watching it took me a couple hours, I could not watch it all at once. it is the worst thing I have ever seen. perhaps others have seen worse, but I have not. I am appalled.
    I have spoken out against police brutality, racism, hate, etc for years. I have supported "good" cops. I support "black lives matter", I believe that good cops have an obligation to out bad cops. I thought it was really an easy choice. wouldn't all honest, good police officers be against violent, hate-filled, assholes committing crimes ? I knew it was a hard choice, but sincerely, honesty and integrity would prevail, right ? my answer came last night, these animals walk around with good people, after murdering a helpless, 138 lb, white, mentally ill, non-armed, homeless, sheriff's son, forcNO REASON, but they could. I had made my choice years ago. they have made my choice now. they are not trustworthy or humane. the blood lust, the savagery of this 30 minutes prices to me that I cannot trust these men. ever.

    1. This video is heartbreaking and sobering. Thank you for sharing this. I don't know what else to say.

    2. I don't know what to say either. That video shook me to the core.

  10. Part of the problem seems to be that lately, every time there is third-party evidence like phone recordings or even dashcam footage that doesn't get disappeared into the "internal investigation" it turns out that the officer involved was blatantly lying, even to the point of planting a gun on the body of the man they'd just shot so that they could claim he'd been armed.

    I'm all for giving people the benefit of the doubt, but how often do you have to catch them in a lie before you decide to stop trusting them?

    1. Once per person, I'd say. Maybe two or three times for an organization. But you can't justifiably generalize beyond that. There are good, honest police departments out there. I can't prove it, of course, but the law of large numbers makes it extremely likely that there are at least a few. I happen to believe, based on a combination personal experience and public record, that the police department of my home town is one of the good ones. They don't tolerate racist behavior among their officers. I suppose for accuracy, I should amend that to add, "at least not any that reaches the public eye".

    2. Not all the time, but enough of the time. I didn't know whether Keith Lamont Scott had a gun or not until the actual video was released. Because the police and the family were saying contradictory things, how could I know who was telling the truth? Should I believe the police simply because they're the police? Should I believe the family because the police are automatically liars? How could I know?

      Of course, then the video was released, and while it's a mess, I ran some enhancement software on it, zoomed in, single stepped frames around when Mr. Scott was killed... in one frame Mr. Scott's hand is by his side but all I can see is blurry shadow (but he was facing his car and if there was a gun in the hand it was either pointing at the ground or at the car), the next frame his right hand is jerking up to his chest where he had been shot, and you can plainly see a gun falling from his hand toward the ground. So yes, he had a gun, not a book.

      So now I know *that* much. What I don't know is what threat the officer saw or perceived that made him shoot Mr. Scott. Was it the mere presence of a gun? Did Mr. Scott say something that made the police think he was about to turn and shoot them? Or was it just that Mr. Scott's blackness made the cop nervous and he shot? I don't know. I have no way of knowing. Because there's so many lies that have floated around about this case, I don't know what to think.

  11. Excellent, Jim. I know I have preconceived perceptions that tend to influence my immediate reaction to things but I try to soon settle into making rational deductions based on evidence. As you said, the evidence may not always be trustworthy and we are still left unknowing and without much way to find the ultimate truth. Thanks for keeping us thinking.

  12. 1) My dad did not like Martin Luther King because he was just another agitator. People came in from outside, and riled up that element. The same words are being used today. 2) Reagan had the hippies shot for refusing to evacuate People's Park in Berkeley. They refused to comply with the lawful orders of the police. (The guys at Malheur were justified to take up arms and resist the police because their cause was just and they were afraid for their lives.) Black people need to comply with the lawful orders of the police, or face the inevitable consequences. The same words are being used today. 3) America, love it or leave it. The same words are being used today. Except that it's OK to hate our President/fellow citizens/musicians if they aren't good Americans, and it's OK to claim that our nation is a shambles, as long as the person we blame is the one who is marginalized. 4) It makes me sad.

  13. The problem is compounded exponentially by the media. When I heard Walther make his statement my first thought was, "That can't be right." I then went on Google to see if I could find some correct data. After scrolling through 10 pages of right wing sites forwarding the 70% story, I gave up. And I'd bet dollars to donuts that there will be not even one mention of Walther's retraction. It's an insidious virus and the only people immune from it are ones who can think.

  14. "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

    So much of substance and depth here to consider; as usual, Jim, you make me think. Thank you for that. I wonder if we, in this nation, are even capable of change?

    I don't know that we're NOT capable of rising above our history, but it's much to surmount. Our dark history of race relations alone could doom a nation. Add to that the American cultural proclivity for rejecting anything that smacks of aristocracy -- probably an inevitable by-product of the manner in which the nation was formed -- which leads many in society to often reject such things as advanced education, critical thinking, and science. Add further the unfortunate and self-deceptive narrative of American exceptionalism.

    I have to believe we can learn from our past and do better -- because the alternative is unthinkable. But change looks a hard and narrow road, from where I stand.

  15. Your essay mandates a single theme to me: to think. Think without knowing, think aside from bias,think critically without a knee jerk reaction,think again with the knowledge that there are no pat solutions or easy answers. Thinking is hard; thinking well,even harder. The discomfort of not knowing is a burden few people take on willingly, but there are some of us who take on that burden;not so much willingly as that we can't not do it. I trust those people. You are one of those people. Thank you.

  16. According to the Gaurdian project, The Counted, over 700 Americans have killed by police this year, and it's not even October. How many people are being terrorized by the perception of being targeted for the color f their skin by those supposed to protect them? 700 dead Americans. Over 1,000 each year. Many not even armed, not posing a threat.

    This is unacceptable.

  17. I trust David O. Brown. I trust law enforcement professionals who take ownership of the problem and take substantive steps to fix the problem.

  18. I have long wondered how long it would be before our fellow-citizens who happened to be different in color decided that they weren't going to put up with this s**t anymore. The tensions between our various factions are nearly to the breaking point.

    Thank you, Jim, for being so honest.

  19. You have all the best words.
    I really did cry. I choose justice and equality for all.

  20. And what "speculation" was his speculation and for what reason? Was his speculation a guess about the unknown (and if so why guess and not wait for the facts), or was it the speculation where you are buying and selling something in the hope of a profit? What makes people so brazen that they do not think someone with a brain will not call them out?
    : ideas or guesses about something that is not known

    : activity in which someone buys and sells things (such as stocks or pieces of property) in the hope of making a large profit but with the risk of a large loss

    I have known many different humans in my life many different walks of life, many cultures, some with much power and some thinking they have none. All humans are just that human and not saints some very good and some very bad and some right in the middle swinging both ways on the tightrope. The police people I have had as friends or just known for a moment were all different, some were very very honest and performed their job to the letter of the law, some gave breaks to their friends and where they could broke the law knowing they could, some did not understand why they should not take advantage of a system that allowed them to have perks like forgiving tickets gotten by family. Some just could not cut the system and left. There are as many different police people as there are humans (not an excuse just a fact) the system allows for the bad and criminal to not be punished. We need to hold the police to the same standards that the people are held to........ except when you see white male students getting away with raping and only getting a slap on the wrist for being a boy you wonder what kind of legal system there really is.

  21. "Doesn’t that bother you as a cop? As a cop don’t you want to be trusted? Taken at your word? Held to a higher standard?"
    I ask that question every time someone tries to justify police shootings with the existence of black-on-black crime. You think as long as black people murder each other that it's ok for cops to do it too? You don't think police should be held to a higher standard than murderers?

    1. Thank you, Jean-Pierre, for putting that in such a concise and pointed way. Every time I hear the Black-on-Black crime canard raised as if it refutes the need for concern about police accountability, that old Sesame Street song goes through my head: "One of these things is not like the other..."

      You put it particularly well.

  22. And don't forget the Police Union rep who explained to us all that the cop who shot and wounded the social worker was actually trying to kill the white autistic guy so he wouldn't hurt anyone with his toy truck. Sadly he forgot he had loaded his rifle with negro-seeking bullets.

    1. As the parent of a young man who is autistic, that reasoning scared the shit out of me. And then it seriously pissed me off.

      I wanted to punch that rep in the mouth. I wanted to feel his teeth crumble. I wanted to watch blood pour out. I wanted to make him weep.

      And that was just one incident. Imagine being faced with that every time another police shooting makes the news. Imagine feeling that fear because your son looks like the kid that got shot for holding a BB gun.

      Yeah, I'm pretty sure that by now I'd be ready to tear some things up and burn some things down.

  23. You have done a wonderful job of pointing out the real Issues. Once upon a time, our Media actually did a decent job of putting those issues in front of the Public so that we could have a Discussion. Sorry that those days are Gone. The only place left for having those discussions is now on the Internet. Fight to keep the Internet free and Open or we won't have any discussions at All.

  24. During my short (10 year) military career, I moonlighted for a few years as a reserve cop. During the thirteen years I spent as a firefighter, I spent a fair amount of time working alongside cops. And during the ten years I spent as a criminal defense paralegal, I had to deal with cops and police reports on a daily basis.

    What difference does all that make, you might ask? Well, I'd like to think that it's given me a small amount of insight into police work and LEOs.

    In my experience, it seems that local departments are less trustworthy than county sheriff's offices, and the most trustworthy departments are State Patrol/State Police, or whatever a particular state designates them. The smaller the department, the more likely I was to find distortions, misrepresentations and out-and-out lies in the police reports. On the other hand, when we'd get reports from the State Patrol, we could pretty much assume that if it happened, it was in the report, that if it was in the report, it had actually happened, and that the trooper wouldn't try to buttress his testimony in court by adding things that he'd "forgotten" or "neglected" to put in the report.

    How do we prevent bad acts by officers, or keep them from covering things up afterwards? For starters, we need to screen applicants to police organizations much more thoroughly. Too many of the officers who end up shooting people, who have complaints about excessive force, and who end up on the pages of the newspapers are people who never should have been given a badge and a gun in the first place.

    A second thing we need is to make cameras ubiquitous during police interactions. Data storage has reached the point where it shouldn't be necessary to turn cameras (especially the ones on the vehicles) on and off. They should be on for the entire shift. The second thing is to replace the little dash cam with a 360-degree camera like the ones that Google uses in their mapping cars. Right now, it's too easy for officers to "inadvertently" move out of the camera during stops and interactions. Additionally, there needs to be trigger switches that will turn on all body cameras and all car cameras in the vicinity the moment any officer removes his gun from his holster, his Taser from its holster or his handcuffs from the belt. Those are the things that seem to be common factors to headline stories, and it's in everyone's interest to have them recorded for later review and inspection.

    During my time in the law office, we had countless interactions in court that turned into disputes between officers and defendants about who said what and who did what; interactions that could have been quickly resolved with video and sound. Some would have doubtless supported the police version; others would have shown our guy to be telling the truth. Instead, they focused on which party was the more convincing and whether a jury would give more weight to the testimony of a cop because he had a badge.

    1. I appreciate all your experience and your point about validity of state-level law enforcement rings true in my very limited experience in that world (I read a lot). Even they, however, are fallible as with the TX Hwy Patrolman who escalated what became the arrest and subsequent death of Sandra Bland. I expect better behavior with the investigation branch of that organization, the Texas Rangers, which may have been more the category you have experience with.

    2. The sad part is, how many of these recent murders of black men have had video footage -- either dashcam or an outside observer with a cell phone -- that clearly showed the cops were wrong, wrong, wrong, and yet they got off? And how many have had the "Dog ate my homework" excuse of their bodycamp mysteriously didn't work (there have been 2 in DC alone recently)?

      Even with film, cops get away virtually unscathed.

    3. My experience is much the same re. Local PD vs sheriff. I would add an even lower level below local cops: prison guards.

  25. One of your better blogs. It really hit home. I am 65 and I have seen a lot. I was in Jr High when the Watts riots happened. The long summer of 1967 and the riots of 1968; the Orangeburg massacre and the riots caused by the assassination of Martin Luther King. I saw the hatred for the college kids protesting Vietnam. I was one of them in 69 and 70. Kent State and then Jackson State, the National Guard would kill you and the cops would kill you for protesting the killing. Love it or leave it you goddamned hippie, you Black Panther nigger, you unAmerican bastard. The scene changes but the words and their meaning seems to stay the same. Forty years later and the words are still the same. Love it or leave it. Comply. You want to live, obey the cops. There is no right or wrong, there is only staying alive. We should have come so much farther but we have not. Reading your words and most of the comments give me hope. Thank you.

  26. I do my absolute best to obey the law. I try not to speed anymore. I try to avoid the attention of the police. I do my absolute best to stay under their radar.

    I am a grey-haired white man. I am probably the last target on their list of suspects for anything. And I find the police absolutely terrifying. Mind you, I was so very grateful for the police when they came to my mother's place at night and helped her after she'd fallen and broken her leg. But you know? I also was scared when opening the door for them to enter.

    I am probably more conservative than liberal (I consider myself a social libertarian). And yet I am scared of the police.

    Is this what we want the United States to be? A nation in which the citizens live in fear of the people who are supposed to protect them?

    Rob H.

  27. "Those who hate and fear the government most, those who tell us the government cannot be trusted, those who sneer and dismiss every single word the government says as a lie, are the ones right now telling me to believe the police without question."

    Yes, very ironic indeed.

    It's also ironic when the police-can-do-no-wrong apologists whine that we're tarring the entire police profession when we go after whom they call "a few bad apples" who killed unarmed Americans without provocation--then when a few people at an otherwise peaceful Black Lives Matter protest start a riot, these same apologists blame the entire black community as being FUBAR.

  28. Oh Jim, you don't really still believe in JUSTICE, do you? Or SECURITY? No such thing as justice. Or security. Those concepts are just things we made up, you know, like God and unicorns and fairies. Yeah, it's maybe a thing we can aspire to, but we can never quite reach, even when/if things go as they "should".

    As far as trusting the police, the govt., the authorities, the DA whose job it is to find the "truth"? Do I hear snickering? The system is rotten from top to bottom. Jeez, we can't even trust the MDA, the FDA, the CDC, the Pharmaceutical industry, et al, to be acting, or even interested in, our interests. We have to question EVERY GODDAMN THING including, most especially including, the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. DELIBERATE DECEPTION is all around us, institutionalized in our society.
    Anyone who has any experience with our "justice" system knows that the police lie, in their reports and on the witness stand. The whole system knows it, the DA, the defense and the judges and they all just pretend it's otherwise. The only ones that may not know it are the jurors and some percent of the general public. Though it depends on the jurors also: I would venture to assert that every juror on the OJ trial knew way before the defense tore Fuhrman a new one, that the cops lie and the system is heavily stacked against them. That's why we all watched in disbelief as an obviously guilty murderer walked free from that courtroom. Those jurors were striking a blow for "justice".
    Cynic much? Yeah, you bet I am. I'm willing to entertain any conspiracy theory, because HOW CAN WE KNOW? Ridicule me for not having a firm stance against 911-truth? Go ahead. Glad some people can be so sure.

    What can we ordinary citizens do about it? Protest in the streets, at least show them that we're watching? Try to identify representatives that will mostly work for the people and support/vote for them? I don't know, it's scary times in a scary world.

    I don't know any answers, I just know that I'm so grateful for your voice Jim, and for like-minded people in the community that you have attracted/created.

    Thank you for another excellent essay.

    Marian Wright

    1. Regarding the OJ trial: I have said for years, "The LAPD framed a guilty man, and did a crappy job of it."

    2. My best friend is a retired assistant AG, his comment to me was that any time police misfeasance occurs then, even a guilty person should walk.

  29. The minute I saw "outside agitators" in the quote from Todd Walther, I immediately thought of the murder of the 3 civil rights workers, Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney in Mississippi. They were "outside agitators" done to death in 1967 by Klansman, for daring to help Black Mississippians to register to vote. Mr. Walther sounded just like Sam Bowers, the Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Klu Klux Klan of Mississippi. I hope he's proud of himself. Any "journimalist" who uses such prettifying euphemisms as "walk it back" also should find another line of work.

  30. OMG, thank you! I have lost friends and ended acquaintances over this issue because the hypocrisy and willful ignorance is just too hard to accept. Unless you or someone you know has been through the grinder of the "justice system" you cannot know how all of this happens and how truly untrustworthy the "protect and serve" officer on the scene can be or how complicit the prosecutors and judges are.

    I am a white 58 year old woman and I have had several disturbing, disrespectful interactions with aggressive, near bullying police officers and prosecuting attorneys. I know people who were beaten, tasered and pepper sprayed for daring to "resist" or defend themselves in the slightest manner. Anyone who dares to think it is not 100% worse for a minority is just not being realistic.

    We now have video proof (just like with Rodney King and how many after him) and it seems to do no good. Hell yes I fear criminals, but I also fear and do not trust the police.

  31. I am a resident of Ontario Canada. The system here for investigating incidents in which a person is injured or killed as a possible result of police action is quite different from what appears to the be US standard. The Special Investigations Unit sends a squad to collect physical evidence; examine police notebooks, interview witness officers and perhaps interview subject officers. The SIU eventually produces a report which is sent to the Crown Attorney but not published. This report may exonerate the subjects officers or might recommend criminal charges. The Canadian version of Black Lives Matter has pointed out that there are some flaws in this system especially the secrecy regarding the results. The probability of criminal charges is rather low but sometimes does result in a conviction.

  32. I'll try to keep this short. Trust, it is about trust. Events of the day and the past create the conditions for trust or distrust. The more we can not know the more distrustful we become. People of color have been conditioned to mistrust the police and the police have been conditioned to mistrust people of color. Only one has the license to kill so the standard must be higher for those with that license. Police carry the responsibility for instilling trust in the public are every instance of abuse of power that reaches the news erodes that trust not only in the would be targets of that abuse, but for everyone else as well. Unless our society takes stock of this issue and makes an effort to change we are headed for race war. We will all lose.

  33. I think we have to be a little careful with all this and not 'tar all police with the same brush'. Regardless of what the news media might want us to believe, news is entertainment and the more sensational it is, the better the entertainment value. It's easy to start getting the impression that the only thing the police do is go around and harass and shoot unarmed people. Clearly that's not the case. While there are undoubtedly bad actors in the police, I suspect that the vast majority are good people trying to do a decent job often in difficult circumstances. What we should be focusing on is how to sort out the people who want to on the police force for the wrong reasons. Then perhaps the police will be able to regain the trust of those they are supposed to protect.

    1. Ironically, given the subject, you said, "...I suspect..."

      I suspect the same thing, but how do you know?

    2. Which is why it would be nice if some of those good cops would stand up and say of the bad ones, "That officer did a shi**y job. That officer should not be an officer. That officer should be tried by a jury."

    3. One cause of the code of silence is the threat of harm by those who are accused. When you, as a police officer, are threatened with either direct violence or by not being able to rely on a backup during a violent incident, you can't ignore that. When your family is threatened with violence, you can't ignore that.

    4. Unknown, it sounds as if you're describing the Mafia.

      So you're saying that today's police forces are the Mafia, except with better tailoring?

      If true, what does that say?

    5. Re watch the film Serpico and realize how right you are.

  34. I don't think it's a good idea for police to have guns at all. It's a stressful job that keeps them in a fight or flight mode and to arm them with deadly weapons is only asking for trouble. There are too many other options to apprehend suspects, besides shooting them with deadly force. Even if the suspects have a criminal record or did break the law, this is the U.S. and there is due process of law for all. At least there's supposed to be.
    I also believe we made a mistake to allow police to ensue suspects in high speed chases. We've allowed the police to do whatever they want to do and they do it. So many innocent people have been killed in order to capture someone evading the police and it's shrugged off as a casualty while the police are "in the line of duty". I'd sooner have more live people and a thug that got away, if it takes dead innocents to stop a suspect.
    I frequently see police vehicles ignoring traffic lights or not use turn signals. These folks should be there to set an example...not be privileged in order to not obey the law.
    I also don't understand why there are so many overweight cops. I would consider that job to be reserved for healthy, in-shape individuals that can actually run after someone when they need to. Is it because they know they can just shoot someone to stop them, if they need to?
    There's a part of me, right now, that is concerned that local law enforcement is reading what I'm writing and there will be retaliation. What is that about? I'm not a paranoid guy by nature but I have to admit, I think we have a problem with what we've created in the way of protecting ourselves.

  35. You raise an excellent existential question - who CAN be trusted anymore. I fear this is a question no one of us can answer for anyone else, and we all need to do quite a bit of critical thinking to answer for ourselves. It is a basic part of human nature to believe that whatever we ourselves believe to be true IS true; the hardest part of life is disabusing ourselves of our own beliefs and prejudices. It can be done, but man, it is hard.

  36. Jim, I'm not sure who I love more: you with your voice of reason or the people who respond with well-reasoned responses. I wish I knew more of you in real life.

  37. This is an issue that has been bothering me all along. I used to trust police, except for those "few bad apples" that seemed to sneak into every department. My occasional encounters with them have been congenial, even when I was getting a traffic ticket... but hey, I'm so white I could almost hide naked in front of a snowbank. Then people began dying or being ill-treated under very questionable circumstances at the hands of cops. Black people get the national news, but cops have not been friends to all non-white people in my home state of California for a long time. The incidents are like drum beats. Each one has made me doubt the basic veracity of police, the doubt growing with each incident.

    Over the same set of years, I've watched as journalism has declined gradually until it barely exists. Even the news sources I place relative trust in are not all that trustworthy. I think the problem is worse in the US, and I often resort to getting my news from sources outside my country, especially the BBC. Doesn't that say something really sad about the state of the US news media?

    As regards trusting government, I learned to have doubts about that years ago. I've never been disabused of the notion.

    The thing is, I don't know what I can do as an individual, except to offer support for organizations that try to influence the transparency of government and policing. I have to admit that there's a police chief race in my own community this November, and I know nothing about the characters running. Maybe learning enough to vote intelligently is a place to start.

  38. Negotiate or shoot at first fright? After a six-hour standoff that forced the evacuation of San Francisco’s City Hall and paralyzed traffic around the Civic Center, police arrested a suicidal man armed with a replica gun Saturday evening.http://www.sfgate.com/crime/article/S-F-Civic-Center-blocked-off-as-police-seek-man-9264469.php Different colors of skin, different standards of treatment. I do trust (dependably rely on) police departments across the country to continue applying different standards of treatment of suspects. I would prefer to trust an evenhanded application of justice from our nation's police officers and their institutions.

  39. The devil is finding it easier to work in our country. When "Christians" support bigoted lies that we have these days it's just something.

  40. You ask us how we can trust you, Jim.

    I trust you because every single time I have done a fact-check on things you say are fact, they turn out to be just as you have represented.
    I trust you because you do not represent your opinions as fact.
    I trust you because you accurately represent what it was like to serve in the Navy during the Cold War and its aftermath to people who do not know what it was like for various reasons. I read your words and say, "Yes, that's what I remember."
    I trust you because you use language with precision.
    I trust you because when you do make mistakes (as we all do), you admit them and correct them with grace and humility.

    And yet, even though I trust you more than just about any other person alive, I still check your sources and think about your posts with a critical eye.
    Keep up the good work, sir.

    - David Coronado
    - USN 1983-1994

  41. Does it bother me? Hell yes it does!
    Do I trust the police? Hell no I don't!
    I am a 61 year-old Marine Corps vet. A medical professional who works with Hispanics, blacks, Asians, Native Americans, and (gasp!)Muslims.
    In my infrequent encounters with LEO, I am always respectful, eloquent, and truthful. I don't fear for my safety. I fear for the safety of my co-workers, who are perceived as 'different', whereas I'm perceived as normal.
    I can't walk in their shoes. But I do realize that they live in a different world than I do.
    This not the America that I fought for.
    This is not the America that I always believed our founding fathers fought for.
    This is not the America that I would pass on to my grandchildren.
    This is America of the fearful, xenophobic, myopic, armed and dangerous old white man.
    SDCulp USMC

  42. First off, outstanding essay. And, as usual, there are some outstanding comments offering different insights and opinions. I hope that I am able to contribute here.

    Yes, as a cop (active 28 years, part time for 2, a use of force instructor and a field training officer) it bothers me. It bothers me that we are so afraid of our citizens that we kill them the minute that we perceive there is a potential threat. It bothers me that the instant that there is an articuable fear that there is a threat that the use of lethal force can be justified. It bothers me that co-workers and other friends of mine in the law enforcement community can look no farther than "he had a gun" as justification for shooting. I believe that North Carolina is an "open carry" state, making it lawful for people to carry firearms openly, which then means that the mere presence of a firearm cannot automatically become a threat, to my way of thinking. To my brothers and sisters that say they "see no color" when dealing with citizens I call BS; we have all grown up in a white dominant culture, and that colors all of our perceptions, regardless of our own race.

    I wish that I could take the jumble of thoughts, ideas and feelings that I have on this topic and convey them with just 10% of your eloquence.

  43. First off, outstanding essay. And, as usual, there are some outstanding comments offering different insights and opinions. I hope that I am able to contribute here.

    Yes, as a cop (active 28 years, part time for 2, a use of force instructor and a field training officer) it bothers me. It bothers me that we are so afraid of our citizens that we kill them the minute that we perceive there is a potential threat. It bothers me that the instant that there is an articuable fear that there is a threat that the use of lethal force can be justified. It bothers me that co-workers and other friends of mine in the law enforcement community can look no farther than "he had a gun" as justification for shooting. I believe that North Carolina is an "open carry" state, making it lawful for people to carry firearms openly, which then means that the mere presence of a firearm cannot automatically become a threat, to my way of thinking. To my brothers and sisters that say they "see no color" when dealing with citizens I call BS; we have all grown up in a white dominant culture, and that colors all of our perceptions, regardless of our own race.

    I wish that I could take the jumble of thoughts, ideas and feelings that I have on this topic and convey them with just 10% of your eloquence.

    I can't seem to post as anything but Anonymous...Ally House

  44. "Trust must be earned. By every action, by every word."

    One way to gain trust is for the police to be required to operate their body and dash cams at all times when they are interacting with the public. Destruction of cameras or interfering with their operation in any way should be punishable by unpaid suspensions up to termination.

    We, the public, need to see what happens when the police shoot or otherwise maim members of the public because right now many of us aren't willing to take the police's word as true given how many times their claims are contradicted by videos.

  45. One issue I don't see being addressed by either side is the fact that our system of law is based on the premise of "innocent until proven guilty," not Napoleonic law.
    Both the police and the media appear to be forgetting this.
    How to get an impartial jury in this age of instant, always-on trial-by-social-media is beyond me.

  46. Thank you for this post. Like so many of your posts do, you got me to thinking. Your question, "How do you know?" has me rethinking many of my pat answers on several topics. So thank you.

  47. The lack of eduction and, by extension, intelligence, in this country has finally caught up with us.

    Why? We have dumbed down the educational system.

    We have dumbed down the media, who cover little but press conferences or You Tube clips from Facebook in many markets.
    We have dumbed down the police departments, where the lack of training results in those who claim to fear for their lives when confronting a single unarmed man, even when joined by several other armed officers. This lack of training results in police departments with $ millions in military equipment but literally gangs that can't shoot or think straight.

    Why has this been allowed to happen, almost without mass public comment or concern? We have dumbed down the citizenry. A single football player, kneeling in protest of institutional racism, is deemed by many to be a traitor who dishonors veterans and the flag. Those citizens who come onto the streets to protest excessive force and racially motivated murders of "civilians" by the police for crimes that either never happened or later on prove to be negligible at worst are deemed to be outsiders coming to cause trouble, as Jim has so eloquently pointed out.

    Dumb has finally caught up with us (care to try to sit through the 90 minute Trump/Clinton Dumb and Dumber debate?) and we can't stand much more of it...

  48. “instigators that are coming in from the outside.”
    We heard the same thing in Baton Rouge... Not true here either.

  49. I went to Facebook yesterday, and one of my conservative friends had posted this (sorry for the external link in my comment, I'm not sure how to embed a photo in one of these):


    We all see it. The implication dripping from this meme is clear. Our linen-white forefathers would never have stooped to something so criminal as looting in response to brutality. They would never have looted.

    Except for the fact that that's exactly what they did. Although I braced myself for an impending un-friending, I couldn't resist commenting, 'No, but they did seize control of a merchant ship, dump 46 tons of tea into Boston Harbor, then proceed to throw a revolution. Ask George Cornwallis how much shit they broke.'

    My message was not well-received. The problem I see is, how do we even begin a productive dialog on how to address problems like this when so many of us in this nation are running around genuinely pissed-off about completely made-up stuff? If facts no longer matter, how do you pull a consensus out of that?

  50. Excellent essay, as always. One minor chronological quibble. Although the "news" of Crutcher's killing, in Tulsa, may not have become widely known until after Scott's killing, he was actually killed before. The elsewhere referenced The Counted website shows Crutcher's shooting occurred on 9/16 and Scott's shooting occurred on 9/20. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counted-police-killings-us-database

    Greg Levy - ETC(SW) USN - Retired

  51. To me, this essay defines my concept of conservatism. Being conservative is all about accepting that there is doubt in the world. It's about not putting the pedal to the medal. It's about accepting the fact that you may not know everything.
    Many people who call themselves conservatives these days are actually radicals. They want to twist this country into a pretzel to suit their individual agenda. They want to burn fuel like there's no tomorrow. They want to hold the Congress hostage because their way is the only way, and they know everything they need to know to make this country great again.

  52. You start with bolstering public schools and making sure that kids know the real history of the country.

    Apart from that, I was once married to a member of the constabulary (I plead youthful stupidity and hormones). I don't trust the police. For starters, fifty percent of women married to officers are abused. They have a siege mentality. A lot of them are too authoritarian to see another person's point of view. Ever. Where they must deal with people who have different skin or a different point of view, too many are xenophobic.

    There are solutions; Sean King of the New York Daily News has 25 posts on how to do so.

  53. Once again, thanks for stating so well what many of us understand but are unable to articulate clearly. Please keep banging the "they are lying" drum loudly.

  54. When I heard Todd Walther say that "outside agitators" part I was transported to the magical sepia toned (1959-1964) time when Trumps America was great! (If you were male, straight, white, and Protestant. The rest can fuck off.)
    That is what anyone in opposition to BLM is basically saying.
    Oh!!!!!! Maybe that's why, seeing it spelled ou!
    The Cliven Bundy/armed standoff de jour crowd who hates the gubament is confused, Black Lives Matter isn't the same BLM.
    No they're also horrible racists, so in this case they love the government!

  55. Yes. Outside "agitators" in the sixties meant SNCC, and "Jews from NYC" and Reverend Al and ANYONE except local black residents, because, they thought, everything was hunky-dory in MS or AL or wherever, because the local whites had been shooting and lynching and burning houses/churches for almost a hundred years with impunity. So "OUR darkies" were happy and content with their lot until the outsiders stirred things up. That's been a meme for a hundred years - and it hasn't died the miserable death it deserves yet, unfortunately. Racism is still a "thing" in this country; it's been hiding just out of sight under a thin veneer of civility.

  56. What I do not get is why some police departments do not understand they are bringing public anger on themselves. Police 'siege mentality' can turn any situation into 'the police against everyone else.'

    Why can't they see their impulsive reactions to criticism are only aggravating their problems with the public? I believe most police individually wish to be fair and treat everyone with the respect. All citizens expect fair treatment, which fosters amicable relationships with police. But a percentage of police - and I have no idea how many, but it must be considerable - perceive themselves as embattled and the public at large as 'the enemy'. This especially seems to be the situation in heavily black areas when a majority of the police department is white. Ferguson, Missouri comes to mind, but there are many other localities with the same perception and problems.

    Some police are outright criminals and racists imbued with a pathological brutally, a fact proven over and over again and which costs taxpayers a lot of money. When some individuals are entrusted with authority - backed up by lethal personal firepower - some may be inclined to abuse their authority. The authority granted to them becomes their 'license' to do as they please, even to kill.

    Bad cops ruin any chance for police departments to build trust with the public they are hired to protect. When cops perpetuate a callous disregard for the rights of those they are hired to protect what else can you expect? Police siege mentality is a self-fulfilling attitude guaranteeing the very thing police fear most; an angry and reactive public. Fear and loathing can also motivate certain people to attack the police. We saw this in Texas recently, and I personally believe more goes on than the general public realizes.

    When police departments do their own investigations of themselves, how can anyone expect the results to be fair to the public?

  57. Hi Jim,

    First, perception is everything and in many cases it counts as a truth. That said, you asked several questions in this essay and most of them boiled down to one...why should we trust the police...we should because the functioning of our society depends on it. That said, I also acknowledge that our society is being undermined and sabotaged because the truth is...I don't trust the police. I have had family members who have been police officers and today, even working in the field of security while working on a degree in Homeland Security, I don't trust the police. Violent protests or peaceful protests, the fact is people are being murdered in the streets instead of being safely taken into custody; MURDERED. We have a perception of the bodies being Americans of Color (thanks in large part to the Media) but you are right, that perception CAN be manipulated (even if at the same time it can be considered truth and reality) and the plain fact is I wonder who else the police are murdering in the streets. If they are murdering mostly American males of Color then Americans of Color (and all of the rest of us too) have every reason to protest; with or without violence because murder is unacceptable. We have laws against it for good reason. If they are murdering civilians in general; that too is unacceptable. In either case we seem to be getting deliberately divided into factions; by the media, by the politicians, by the political parties. You are right, we are being forced to pick a side.

    I can't listen to the screams of one more family member, wife, girlfriend, or daughter or look at one more dead man on the ground and say this is "justice" or that the police officers that did this should be trusted or sided with. I also don't want to see this country burned to the ground and it's citizens played like pieces on a chess board. How do you hold authority figures accountable when one has no acknowledged authority to do so? You keep saying if we want a better government we have to be better citizens. But we have no plan, no working solutions for how to create hat better government. We can see where attempts have gone so far...the Tea Party, the Libertarian Party, Donald Trump....we might as well spread the gasoline and light the matches if those are our best options.

  58. I am a 54 year old white woman who loves everything you write. I wish I had the mad writing skills you possess. You say everything I feel and can't find the right words to say them.

    My mom is my hero. She was born and raised in a very racist home. She never felt the way her family did and vowed her children would not grow up with hate in their hearts. She was successful. I don't begin to understand how you can hate black people and yet have a black maid. Bertha was about the only place my mom felt love and safety as a child. Bertha is also my hero.

    My mom was raped by a black man in 1965 in Georgia. Her family almost disowned her over it. They always treated her lite dirt. Not Bertha. My mom came away from that experience with the understanding that a "bad man" raped her, not a "bad black man". While she did feel fearful of black,men at times, she did not use her rape as a means to justify hating black people.

    We did not choose friends based on color or religion. We chose friends based on spirit and integrity.

    We have custody of my 13 year old nephew and he and I started watching the new ROOTS a few days ago. We watch an hour a day. It is very intense for a child who has lived through much heartache in his short life. I watched the first version at his age and it was overwhelming. He and I discuss it after each hour and he is gaining an understanding that my words alone were not able to provide.

    I wish every white person could live as a black person for one month, or more. I am so tired of self-righteous white people who know everything. If Fox news reports it, it must be true - right.

    I will stop rambling now. Thank for sharing your wisdom with us.

  59. We need to hold our leaders accountable and then they will hold the police accountable. Some would say the unaccountability started with Nixon's pardon and since then very few of our leaders have been held accountable for their actions. Maybe this is one situation that needs top down control because bottom up is just getting more people hurt and/or killed.

  60. Maybe Barrack Obama could have ended it if he had 'gone after' W? I have always been torqued out of shape about that non action, at a time when some healing could have begun.

  61. Here's another name for the list: Perry Jones, 19.

    Read it and weep: https://extranewsfeed.com/one-youve-never-heard-of-perry-jones-19-killed-by-the-police-4f129a3ac29#.11hj333o3

  62. Since I live in Chalotte I'll comment. I viewed the videos and saw an ankle holster. I think he snapped as they zoomed in on a guy rolling a blunt, looking for someone else, and picked him to roust on a peaceful day.
    It's unclear.
    I think the protesters were mostly peaceful. I know a lot of them. There were people so enraged and prone to causing trouble anyway, the looting started. Most did not.
    I think the protester was shot by a looter.
    I think the cops are on steroids. Everywhere.

  63. Jim, I don’t know if you will notice this after your post has been up this long but regarding your comments about outside agitators and going all the way back to Selma I wanted to share something with you.

    Tom Paxton, “We Didn’t Know” released 1965

“… We didn't know said the congregation,
    Singing a hymn in a church of white.
    The Press was full of lies about us,
    Preacher told us we were right.
    The outside agitators came.
    They burned some churches and put the blame,
    On decent southern people's names,
    To set our colored people aflame.
    And maybe some of our boys got hot,
    And a couple of niggers and reds got shot,
    They should have stayed where they belong,
    And preacher would've told us if we'd done wrong.”

    I wonder if a search back through pre-civil war songs from the Appalachians or perhaps all the way back to the writings of Plato would find the same sentiments or excuses.

    Those who fail to study history are doomed to cause deja vu for those who do.

  64. My parents always taught me that trust in one's government was not an appropriate thing for a citizen to have, because our job as citizens is to keep vigilant for just this sort of problem,and if we have fallen into the habit of trusting, we are more easily duped.

    They were not saying the cynical, "you can't ever trust your government officials", they were saying to me as their child that part of my duty as a citizen of a democracy is to be skeptical.

    My duty is to fact-check, to correllate information from multiple sources, to make informed judgements about governmental matters and governmental officials. To watch the watchers. Not that they necessarily *are* all bad, but that they *could* be so if we are not vigilant.

    Since the beginning of government, there has been abuse of power. It will not cease, though we should constantly strive for and insist that it cease. It is an evil to be vigilant against, one that our tripartate system of government was intended to minimize. We were not supposed to let abuse of power go unchecked, but the politicians and thinkers of the time knew that it could, and they tried to find ways to slow it down.

    The best way to slow it down is, yes, to call all governmental figures to account for their actions, decisions, rulings. But don't ever decide the job is done, and say, "now we can trust our government". It is never done, it is only ahead of the threat of the moment, or not.

  65. My parents always taught me that trust in one's government was not an appropriate thing for a citizen to have, because our job as citizens is to keep vigilant for just this sort of problem,and if we have fallen into the habit of trusting, we are more easily duped.

    They were not saying the cynical, "you can't ever trust your government officials", they were saying to me as their child that part of my duty as a citizen of a democracy is to be skeptical.

    My duty is to fact-check, to correllate information from multiple sources, to make informed judgements about governmental matters and governmental officials. To watch the watchers. Not that they necessarily *are* all bad, but that they *could* be so if we are not vigilant.

    Since the beginning of government, there has been abuse of power. It will not cease, though we should constantly strive for and insist that it cease. It is an evil to be vigilant against, one that our tripartate system of government was intended to minimize. We were not supposed to let abuse of power go unchecked, but the politicians and thinkers of the time knew that it could, and they tried to find ways to slow it down.

    The best way to slow it down is, yes, to call all governmental figures to account for their actions, decisions, rulings. But don't ever decide the job is done, and say, "now we can trust our government". It is never done, it is only ahead of the threat of the moment, or not.

  66. Dear Jim, not sure you will ever get t this as you have so much other comments to read, but I wanted to say thank you! Thank You for being an advocate, a reasonable man, and a good person. As a Gay man I appreciate everything you have done over the past few years to argue for my rights. I hope that If/when gays are stripped of rights and possibly killed just for being who we are that you will tell others that we were not the vile creatures the Republicans and Christians say we are. That many of us were good Americans before America fell. That we loved each other, had children we loved and did service for our country. I am literally typing through tears because I am SO afraid that my life is over! Thanks You, I hope you survive this!


Comments on this blog are moderated. Each will be reviewed before being allowed to post. This may take a while. I don't allow personal attacks, trolling, or obnoxious stupidity. If you post anonymously and hide behind an IP blocker, I'm a lot more likely to consider you a troll. Be sure to read the commenting rules before you start typing. Really.