Friday, May 13, 2022

Unexamined Issues

Following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in May of 2020, there arose a vast movement of Americans, many of them boasting yard signs which typically were headed "in this house, we believe." Following was a list, varying slightly and insignificantly from one sign to another, "science is real;" "love is love;" "women's rights are human rights;" "kindness is everything;" "no human is illegal." In each case the signs, still available for purchase, included "black lives matter" and were inspired by the killing of a black man which catalyzed a nation.

Six months later, NBC News reported

From 2014 to this May, #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted or retweeted 39.2 million times, but the hashtag was shared more than 100 million times in the month after George Floyd was killed, according to a report from Kivvit. The Floyd protests of the summer pushed the movement forward in new ways, the report shows.

At least 62 Fortune 500 companies posted about Black Lives Matter on Facebook in the wake of the summer’s protests. And BLM Facebook posts by popular brands like Nordstrom, Ben & Jerry’s and others saw more engagement than usual posts, according to the report. Before the summer's protests, just two Fortune 500 companies had posted about the movement, the report said.

Black Lives Matter, as the movement it led, focused on the harshness of treatment of blacks by law enforcement.

Given the organization's preoccupation with the belief that law enforcement organizations single out blacks for brutal treatment, it's unlikely Black Lives Matter will be especially exorcised that in Las Cruces,New Mexico

A city police officer who approached the home of Amelia Baca orders her to drop the large kitchen knives she's holding in her hands 16 times in 40 seconds. On the last request, Baca takes a step toward the officer and he shoots twice, killing her.

Baca, 75, experienced a form a dementia, according to a family member who called 911. Baca spoke only Spanish, her granddaughter later told investigators. The officer who shot Baca spoke to her in English.

The dramatic shooting is captured on the body camera of the police officer who shot Baca inside her home on the 800 block of Fir Avenue the evening of April 16, the day before Easter.

The police officer, who has not yet been identified, could have handled the situation in a few different ways, only one of which involved shooting to kill. In the video below, The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur argues that police training is grossly inappropriate, encouraging participants to shoot first rather than de-escalating the situation.  Too many agencies promote the "killology," in which  "warrior cops" are urged to protect themselves at the expense of building strong community relationships. Uygur recognizes that the "there are good cops as well as bad cops" narrative encourages us to turn a blind eye to the warped priorities of some police departments.

Not surprisingly, though, one point is absent from the TYT video. The victim (though not non-Hispanic white) is not black. Everywhere that will be ignored because it does not figure into the "black lives matter" and its common "blue lives matter" schema.

Two years ago, the dispute over policing was presented as "black lives matter" vs. "blue lives matter," as if they were two mutually exhaustive categories. Occasionally, someone would maintain "all lives matter" but that subversive notion was dismissed as racist.

Blacks are treated worse, on average, by many police departments and many protestors protestors of 20+ months ago are displeased by the thought of excessive force being applied by police against any ethnic group.

Yet, it's not a high priority, nor has it ever inspired demonstrations of major significance.  For the academic, business, entertainment, and political worlds, the emphasis- previously an obsession- has been with abuse of blacks. It was handy to assume that were we to address the racism in police ranks and disparate treatment resulting therefrom, issues with policing would rapidly dissipate.

It should be jarring to recognize that there are problems with law enforcement which go beyond race. In Las Cruces, a city which is over half Hispanic, that might include the need for Officers to have a functional understanding of Spanish. However, we have learned a lot the past two years, including that for leftists, conservatives, and- especially- centrists, the reality is unworthy of acknowledgment.

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