Danny Cardwell's picture

    Who Will Be The Next #_________?

    Acquittals for killing unarmed people of color will be to this generation what stock footage of police using water hoses and siccing dogs on protesters was to the 1960’s. Almost 54 years after the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, unemployment in many black communities is twice the national average, and law enforcement continues to disproportionately use lethal force against people of color. For all of America’s talk about racial progress the underlying disparities that necessitated the original gathering remain in place.

    When America is forced to deal with race the conversations have no thematic unity. There are too many people in positions of power defending the status quo while those suffering its affects are questioning it. There are people so invested in the flag and the myth of America that they willfully ignore or disconnect the historical context events happen in. There is no gap between Jimmie Lee Jackson and Philando Castile.

    America’s need to reflexively point to past achievements in race relations is a form of generational absolution. Admitting things were worse does nothing to dismantle the racism in our midst. I’m not dismissing the progress we’ve made, but the truth is: we are still as sick as the ghosts of our pasts.

    After an officer is acquitted for killing an unarmed person of color social media and the blogosphere explode with new articles chronicling the pain endured by the victim’s family, and the distrust between the community and the police. Brilliant thinkers and writers parse the nuances of the latest case versus the last case in an effort to show how juries keep getting it wrong, but nothing changes. Nothing changes because predominantly white juries often go out of their way to give an officer every benefit of the doubt.

    Too many Americans have a Spaghetti Western view of the world where the cowboys are all good guys and the Indians are all bad. Even when a murder is captured on video jurors find a way to sympathize with the fear of an officer (with the gun) instead of the humanity of the man or woman on the other end of it.

    We are in desperate need of more cure and less diagnosis. Anyone who cares about these issues understands what’s wrong. Better training and body cameras may limit the number of people shot, but they can’t pick fair-minded juries or assure that prosecuting attorneys will put the best case forward.

    America’s race problems are exasperated by a litany of false equivalences and illogical positions. Too many Americans, irrespective of race, uncritically accept (either-or) propositions that further divide us. It’s possible to say BLACK LIVES MATTER as a close ended declaration. The call to end police brutality and mass incarceration isn’t the same thing as wanting police officers harmed.

    Calls for justice are not provocations, yet pointing out systemic failures has the effect of gaslighting some reactionaries. This is the minefield racial dialog takes place in. Too often people of color understand white silence as tacit approval of the behavior they see instead of a lack of courage or necessary vocabulary to engage in the conversation. This never-ending cycle breeds distrust.

    Marching for justice and writing about justice will never produce enough justice. It can take decades for a society to even agree that a particular form of evil is wrong- much less work to fix it. There were enough Americans outraged by the images they saw in the 1960’s to register a dissent and force a change. I’m not advocating for another dose of “We Shall Overcome”. Those days are over, but we have to put more pressure on the District and Commonwealth Attorneys, and the juries who continue to fail us. We have to create an atmosphere so full of commonsense and righteous morality that the injustices we see can’t be explained away by people wanting to maintain their credibility.


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    The only way you can "pressure" a jury is as a member of a jury.

    See jury tampering.

    Normally, jury members are drawn from registered voters. County attorneys are elected by voters. A democracy gains credibility when informed citizens vote, and participate in the criminal justice system as jurors.

    Civil, non-criminal, lawsuits have a less rigorous standard to decide for a victim of police abuse, and the jury decision does not need to be unanimous.

    This is why victims or their families can get large settlements, with or even without filng a lawsuit. (Eric Garner case NYC settled for $5.9 million).

    A man was choked to death on camera and there were no convictions. Another man had his spinal cord severed magically after being arrested and there were no convictions. A man legally in possession of a firearm, tells an officer that he has a gun and is still shot dead. No conviction. The NRA, supporter of the second amendment, remains silent. This situation will be just like the drug situation. Black lives didn't matter. Their drug deaths were unimportant. When drug despair hit white communities, it became a medical emergency. Juries will continue to let rogue cops go free until white lives are taken. When that happens, there will be a crackdown on out of control cops.


    I truly believe future generations will wonder what the hell we were doing.

    Here is newly released video of Philando Castile telling the officer that he has a gun. Castile says he is not reaching for the gun. Castile is shot dead.


    ​If you are not the person involved in a robbery, why would you alert the officer that you had a weapon? You lose the element of surprise, Castile was trying to save his life. He died anyway. The jury system says Castile's life was worth nothing.

    First just sharing a interesting link to this organization

    Center for Policing Equity

    Found out about it by reading the bios of the authors of this guest op-ed in today's NYTimes:

    Charleena Lyles Needed Health Care. Instead, She Was Killed.


    Phillip Atiba Goff is president of the Center for Policing Equity and a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Kim Shayo Buchanan is the senior academic writer at the Center for Policing Equity.

    Second, after reading this, something like this organization seems more promising to me than "Black Lives Matter" as it doesn't intend to effect change in institutions through societal pressure (which can often be the long way going about affecting entrenched institutions,) but is actually working on targeting those institutions directly and suggesting and helping with change. Once you have examples of institutions that are lauded for successful changes they've made, it often becomes a competition. I.E. Instead of cop departments allover the country who feeling they are all being labeled racist thugs and then actually start sticking together more like glue when they might not if not being attacked, one goes for putting them in competition for praise of being better, improved versions of their old selves, and shaming those who stay with the thug brothers-in-blue old ways.

    Good luck with this in the era of Trump. When the DOJ under Eric Holder found police departments filled with racial bias. The DOJ attempted to make changes. Some police chief applauded the suggestion. Police unions fight them tooth and nail. Members of the NYPD called David Dinkins nigger. A newer generation of NYPD officers turn their backs on DeBlasio. Fellow police officers are willing to lie about events on police forms. The rank and file likes the status quo.

    Edit to add:

    Sessions retreats from police oversight 


    If the Center can affect most Criminal Justice course curricula taught in colleges nationwide, I would bet on it solving the problem quicker than protesting.

    Simply because, as it says here

    [....] Relevant Areas of Study

    Most aspiring police officers pursue degrees in criminal justice. In criminal justice degree programs, students learn about every aspect of the law and justice system. Criminal justice is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates the study of law, psychology, sociology, public administration, and more. Other relevant majors that students thinking of joining the police force may pursue include police science and political science. Most police departments prefer applicants with a degree, regardless of their major [....]

    And if you think this problem would be solved if Hillary were president for 8 years, I don't agree. 8-yrs. of Obama didn't change a helluva lot in this regard.

    Holder and Obama made attempts to change things. Hillary would have tried. The country enjoys having blacks as second class citizens because blacks are viewed as threats. That is one reason we have Trump and now Handel in GA-6.

    Thanks Danny.  Tough piece to write.  I appreciate that you shared this at Dag.

    Philando's life was worth maybe $5. The smartphone recording was worth $2.99+ million. Just saying. #PoliceBodyCamsMatter

    Sad but true.

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