Sunday, December 27, 2020

Seeing Is Believing

Disappointing but not surprising:

 There has been relatively muted reaction on social media as

Twitter users are sharing police bodycam footage taken during the Tuesday police shooting of Andre Hill, an unarmed 47-year-old Black man in Columbus, Ohio who was shot dead just for sitting in a vehicle within his own garage.

The video shows that Officer Adam Coy killed Hill within seconds of encountering him. Hill emerges in an open garage with an illuminated cell phone screen in his left hand, his right hand out of view. After killing Hill, Coy (his gun still aimed) screams at Hill to put his hands up and not to move as Hill lays dying on his garage floor.

Police had been responding to a non-emergency disturbance call within the neighborhood at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning.

But the video does not show Officer Coy killing Mr. Hill, evidently because (as noted in the video below)

....the officers not activating their body cameras until immediately after the shooting, investigators will be examining the crucial moment captured by the camera's look-back feature, which pre-recorded 60 seconds of video from the moment it turns on but it does not capture audio so it is unclear what was said between Hill and the two officers.

For nearly eight minutes, some of which we watched on tape (and watched... and watched.... and watched.... and....), Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd's neck. We watched as Chauvin, under no threat from the accused, coldly and wantonly killed Floyd.

Millions could see the victim, obviously black, having the life sucked out of him by an obviously white police officer. We saw it over and over, and reaction was overwhelming.

The killing of Andre Hill by a white police officer followed by a few weeks the death of Casey Goodson Jr., a 23-year-old black man shot by a member of the task force of the Franklin County, Ohio Sheriff's Department. Those officers, involved in an investigation with agents from the US Marshal's fugitive task force, do not wear body cameras.

There is no video of the Goodson killing. The video of the shooting of Coy is incomplete, presumably because no body camera was on at the time he was shot.

That differs dramatically from the Floyd situation. Yet, there is an additional reason there has been less than .01% of the response to Columbus than to Minneapolis.

Baby, it's cold outside. Columbus is not Cleveland, and certainly not Duluth or Buffalo. But it's December, and it's cold in Columbus as it is in the vast majority of the country. It is not May 30 (the day after Floyd was killed), with beautiful weather in much of the country and people anxious to get out of the house, finally.

It is cold now, frigid in some places, and normal people are less fond of the outdoors in winter than in late spring or early summer.  When thousands of men and women don't take to the streets, millions won't follow, nor will the cameras.  A tree falling in a forest without an individual present will still fall, but no one will notice and thus do anything about it.

Timing is of the utmost importance, in December as in May. So is the impression made by a violent crime, such as that perpetrated by Derek Chauvin and possibly by Adam Coy and Sheriff's Deputy Jason Meade. Therefore, the impression of the (alleged) police brutality in Columbus is infinitely milder than it was of the incident in Minneapolis. Pictures are powerful- more than ideal- and people respond accordingly.


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