As Karl Bickel, a senior policy analyst with the Justice Department’s Community Policing Services office, observes, police across America are being trained in a way that emphasizes force and aggression. He notes that recruit training favors a stress-based regimen that’s modeled on military boot camp rather than on the more relaxed academic setting a minority of police departments still employ. The result, he suggests, is young officers who believe policing is about kicking ass rather than working with the community to make neighborhoods safer. Or as comedian Bill Maher reminded officers recently: “The words on your car, ‘protect and serve,’ refer to us, not you.”
Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably…we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
…How dare people preach and condescend to these people and tell them not to loot, not to riot? Yes, those are destructive forms of anger, but frankly I would rather these people take their anger out on property and products rather than on other people.
No, I don’t support looting. But I question a society that always sees the product of the provocation and never the provocation itself. I question a society that values property over black life. But I know that our particular system of law was conceived on the founding premise that black lives are white property…
Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us….
Last night police in riot gear marched down West Florissant Avenue, ordering people to leave the area and firing tear gas onto the streets. Police even fired tear gas into the backyard of a home where several people held their “hands up” in what’s become a symbol of protest over the shooting of Michael Brown.
Daily RFT caught the melee on video.
The incident occurred after police had already evacuated nearly everybody on West Florissant Avenue. Between tear gas firings, a police officer bellowed “go home” into a loudspeaker. It took about an hour, but nearly everybody within vicinity of the police left the streets.
Yet a group of four male protesters remained defiant on West Florissant, screaming profanities at the police and putting their hands in the air. The police responded with threats of tear gas.
"Turn around and leave or we will deploy gas," shouted a police officer through a loudspeaker. Residents in their backyards pleaded for the men to get out of the street. After a few minutes of prodding, they did so. But the police still decided to advance.
Standing in his backyard along with a few friends and family was 24-year-old Rich West. And after seeing the police deploy tear gas as they marched down the empty street, West and his friends felt like protesting.
"You go home! You go home!" they chanted. As the police come closer, they all put their hands up.
Once again, the police officer with the megaphone ordered the protesters to go home.
"We’re in our yard!" they responded.
At one point West walked to his fence with his hands high up in the air.
"This my property! This my property!" he shouted, prompting police to fire a tear gas canister directly at his face. He moved at the last second.
"This my shit!" West screamed irately after narrowly avoiding the gas canister. Eventually a friend grabbed him and pulled him back to calm him down.
"This is my backyard! This is my shit!" West continued screaming into the camera. He turned to the police: "Y’all go the fuck home!"
"This is our home. This is our residence," West’s brother added. "Why do you think people say ‘fuck the police?’ Because of that shit."
Flora Busby, West’s mother, a soft-spoken woman in her 60s, came into the backyard to see if her sons were alright.
"We in our backyard!" she said. "Why you gotta shoot us?"
Again West shouted at the police. And again they fired another gas canister into the yard — this one nearly hitting his house.
"It’s pure ignorance," West responded after catching his breath. "I pay property taxes here. I should be able to be in my backyard any time."
He said that regular harassment by the Ferguson police department, often in the form of traffic stops, has been occurring ever since he was sixteen years old.
"They ain’t gotta be throwing tear gas in my backyard," added Busby. "This is my property. We were just standing back there, my son was standing back there, and I go to see about him and they threw it."
She continued: “I’m angry about that. They shouldn’t be doing that. And they didn’t need to kill the poor little boy. “
Note, however, that the writer of this piece has to walk around with bodyguards in Israel because he’s gotten so many death threats.
Thank god at least one academic’s gotten the memo about plain English.
The discourse that leaves the mouths of those in power, and of a large part of the media has strict parameters. In a world of ever decreasing standards, the best we indeed hope for in this conflict is for a politician to declare the attack as ‘disproportionate’. The debate, purposefully, hasn’t been whether it is appropriate at all to be attacking the battered population of Gaza. Seemingly, a population locked in their own land, under siege and blockade, with 80% surviving on humanitarian aid, are a threat that must be neutralised.
Morally, Jewish tradition commands us to act justly, especially when actions seem imprudent and embarrassing, and never to be silent, even to protect Jewish unity. This Jewish morality has taken one form, recurrently, throughout the ages. Even in bad times, when Jews were under fierce attack, their moral teachers gave no exceptions. The prophets knew that Assyria and Babylonia were far more wicked than Judea, but they held Judea to account, even as the Assyrians and the Babylonians were advancing. “Only you have I known among all the nations of the world; therefore I will hold you to account for all your sins.”
The next time some dickhead hasbarabot asks why I’m not outraged about Syria.
I’d heartily recommend Sarah Kendzior’s writing to anyone wanting to understand the politics of race and class underlying what’s going on in Gaza — or Detroit, for that matter. It was via this piece on gender, power, and rape threats, however, that I first became aware of her — and was reminded of just how badly patriarchy, misogyny, and male entitlement can fuck things up.