I received the following note on Facebook:
“Bro. Asa, I’m also distressed about the recent killing of Kajieme Powell. I understand Police having to protect themselves but this young man was acting erratically and after viewing the video ; it looked like “suicide by cop”. Are the cadets trained on how to disarm someone acting in a bizarre manner who is probably mentally ill without killing him. One officer years ago told me that you can drop someone by shooting them in the legs/knees/arms. He’s never had to kill anyone. They cuffed this young man and it was clear that he was down and unable to attack anyone. I guess I’m wondering given your law enforcement expertise; (when you have the time) if you can address these issues on your blog. I also understand the precariousness of doing so given your profession. I would like to see more Officers with the intelligence, common sense and expertise of Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson! I feel like you do. Thanks for hearing me out!”
Dear Sis. Carolyn,
Like you I’m also distressed by the “executing” of our Black men and boys by the police.
As a Black man, a Black father of a young Black son and a Black police officer, I have a certain… maybe even an “unique” perspective… into these situations. However, I made a conscious decision to not do a blog post, so as to add to the deluge of intellectualized placebos from all quarters, which only real and lasting accomplishment is to further desensitize our society to the genocide being committed against those of African descent… those with black and brown skins… worldwide. The Word states that “there is nothing new under the sun”. It’s all been said, discussed and debated before, as well as now. The truth is that whether it’s 1614, 1714, 1814, 1914 or 2014, the terrorism that is white supremacy continues to be unleashed upon us, ironically even more so under the administration of the first USA “black” President and his “black” Attorney General.
However, as you are my sister and I know of the sincerity of your empathy, I will offer my “two cents” to you… to spend as you wish.
In the Kajieme Powell incident, what compounds the situation was the fact that he was mentally and emotionally disturbed. I don’t know about Kajieme’s personal history, but I do know that in an effort to reduce health care costs, there is a trend to release those with mental and emotional problems into society, when they actually should be in facilities that are adept in treating their conditions, or at least monitoring and stabilizing it with medication. They are being released into the custody of those who do love them, but aren’t capable in handling their conditions if it deteriorates. It then more often than not, becomes a police problem. However, police officers aren’t trained to be psychologists. Simply put: we’re trained to eliminate a threat with extreme prejudice… which means different things to different police officers. As a police officer in Canada, we’re specifically trained that when you’re dealing with someone who is mentally and emotionally disturbed, who is armed and making threats, including asking to be killed by the police, you’re dealing with one of the most erratic, irrational and dangerous situations you will ever face as a police officer. From what I know, this training is similar in the USA. Regardless of one’s training, the response to these situations is ultimately made by the individual officer(s). This response would be influenced by a number of factors such as the officer’s upbringing, how he/she is socialized and their resulting prejudices; their views on race, class, gender; as well as their own physical, mental and emotional abilities, capabilities and shortcomings, etc.
Looking at the video, it is my belief that other interventions could have been utilized before the decision to shoot and kill Kajieme became the final solution. Disengage, back up, contact family members, his social worker or mental health specialist etc, to speak with him. Get some police shields (from Ferguson) and rush him with an officer prepared to discharge a Taser to incapacitate him. I don’t want to be a “Monday morning arm chair quarterback” because I wasn’t there, but from what I can deduce from this situation, these are some of the options I personally would attempt or discuss with my fellow officers, before deciding that I had no other choice but to shoot and kill him. However, based on the training they (and I) have received, this would be classified as a justifiable, legal response to this situation… i.e., “a good shoot”. It is my opinion that any shooting by a police officer that takes the life of an individual, whatever the circumstances, certainly should be viewed as a tragedy for all parties involved. A “good shoot” is therefore an oxymoron.
As a “black” police officer, I’m so proud of Captain Ron Johnson and how he is handling the crisis in Ferguson. I understand and empathize with the trials, tribulations, as well as the emotions he’s going through. He’s in a tough position as most people… both white and black… want him for their own self interests, to fail in bringing some peace and order to the community… a community he grew up in. It’s bad enough that his (white) superiors and (white) colleagues have been pulling stunts to undermine him every step of the way, but that’s expected. What annoys me most are the pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists, sitting in the safety of their homes, in their comfortable swivel arm chairs in-front of a computer, discrediting and referring to him as an “uncle tom”, “sellout”, “token” and “stooge of the white man sent to pacify the negroes”.
What these pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists don’t understand, which I do, is that Captain Johnson is the shepherd keeping the wolves at bay, who are more than ready, willing and able… and are only waiting for the right opportunity to slaughter their prey. Believe me, I know of what I speak. I’ve been in policing situations where my presence and forceful intervention in certain situations, have prevented the shooting and possible death of a Black male, as well as saved some of them from being criminalized for minor indiscretions. What these pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists fail to realize, which I do, is that the military equipment deployed against the peaceful protesters was not a show of force, but a use of force. It was only by the grace of God that one of the trigger happy cops didn’t start shooting into the protesters, which would have caused a conditioned natural chain reaction by the other cops to start shooting too. It would have resulted into another Sharpeville massacre. Believe me, I know of what I speak. I was on a tactical emergency task force. The reason these same pseudo-intellectual, wanna-be black revolutionary social media activists want Captain Johnson to fail, why they not so secretly welcome the slaughter of innocents, is the simple fact that it will provide the needed fodder for their next Facebook, Twitter and blog rhetoric and posts, which will undoubtedly bring more “hits” and notoriety to their sites.
Let me share an article with you about the shooting and killing of a mentally and emotionally disturbed teenager in Toronto, Canada by a police officer: “The Killing of Sammy Yatim”. It’s very informative on a number of different levels. First it shows the similarities in police training, in Canada and the USA, at handling these types of situations. More importantly, the article humanizes both the victim and the officer. Too often the media, particularly social media, demonizes and dehumanizes those they see as their adversaries. We need to always remember that both are human beings with families who suffer in their own way.
Let me also share with you a post I did in 2009 entitled: “A day of blogging for Justice – Standing up against the pre-trial electrocution”. It speaks for itself and further addresses your questions.
Finally I’ll end with the words of our musical prophets Bob Marley and Peter Tosh:
God continue to bless you my sister and provide you with the wisdom you’re ever seeking.
I’ve never been down with Tim Wise. Unlike a lot of African-American commentators who considered him an ally and raised him upon the pedestal of the “good white man”, I found nothing in his self declared white anti-racist
mission hustle that I considered sincere. I saw him and it for what it was: exploiting, appropriating and profiting from the oppression and injustices faced by Black people, while making White people feel good about themselves via the privilege of their white guilt complex. I previously laid this all out here: Tim Wise and The Privilege of White Guilt.
It appears that the dazzlement is beginning to dim and more and more of my African-American brothers and sisters are beginning to see his true light. When I read these two articles at Black Agenda Report, here and here, I saw that the shine was indeed starting to come off Mr. Wise. Then I read this recent article at gradient lair, including the links within the article pertaining to Mr. Wise. I recommend you read them all… eye opening!
A former friend of mine once stated: “time takes time”. Time is certainly catching up with Tim Wise… and his hustle, like all fads… is getting old.
Recently a friend was ranting to me about a segment of The O’Reilly Factor he had watched, where a conservative African-American radio talk show host, David Webb, was commenting in agreement with O’Reilly on the George Zimmerman
fiasco verdict. My friend made the statement that Webb was a nothing but a “white man in black skin”.
He then went on to inform me of a survey he had seen which stated that 70% of white people in America agreed with the verdict. I asked him, how many black people did he guesstimate also agreed with the verdict. The question caught him off guard and he struggled to answer… “maybe 1%”. I told him it was probably closer to 70% than 1%.
I also told him I totally disagreed with his categorizing of Webb and that he was indeed a “black man in black skin”. There is one group of people who hate poor black people more than white people do… and that’s the black middle and upper class. They are quite adept in their use coded intellectualized language in their condemnation of their less fortunate brothers and sisters. Which is why despite their political affiliations, cultural heritage, gender or sexual orientation, many in the black middle and upper class are more sympathetic to the white supremacy based thinking on black criminality of a Bill O’Reilly, a Sean Hannity and even a Barack Obama.
Regardless of their eloquence, when you break it down, it’s black on black hate speech… steeped in self-hate. Whether it’s the comments of David Webb, Don Lemon, Barack Obama, The Conservative Black Chick, the article below by Project 21 member Derryck Green… all are reflective of the internalized “divide and conquer” strategy within the African-American community.
Race Fatigue by Derryck Green
Help me, I’m suffering from acute race fatigue!
After gavel-to-gavel coverage of the George Zimmerman trial, I need a break. After all the post-verdict anger, lamentations and inane discussions about what it is to be a black man in America, I’m exhausted.
After watching President Obama liken himself to Trayvon Martin, I’ve had enough. All this talk about race seems intentionally shortsighted and disingenuous. It simply implicates whites and infantilizes the black man. And those needing to hear straight talk the most are shortchanged by the soulless profiteers of the racial grievance industry.
I’m tired of Trayvon Martin being compared to Emmett Till – which, by extension, projects a racial ethos similar to that of 1955 upon contemporary America. Martin was no Till, period. Martin was not some kind of martyr. Please, already.
I’m tired of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. being photoshopped into a hoodie. This is nothing short of repulsive, and it denigrates the memory of Dr. King’s contribution to racial justice. Our nation shall forever be in debt to Dr. King. The same cannot and should not be said nor insinuated about Trayvon Martin. There is no comparison.
I’m especially exhausted of hearing condescending white progressives encouraging blacks to maintain a false narrative of victimization. The embarrassing demonstrations increased racial fatigue because those engaging in them did so at the expense of their dignity and credibility. These people – willfully or through neglect – ignored the facts and evidence of the case in a grandstanding attempt to make whites feel responsible and guilty for perpetuating racial discrimination. At the same time, whites feel obligated to perform penance of indeterminate length – defined by the racial grievance industry – without assurance of absolution.
Meanwhile, black-on-black crime is much more destructive and prevalent than a “white Hispanic” killing a black male. The charade is disgusting, and I’m tired of it. The Zimmerman trial wasn’t about race. The FBI’s investigation found absolutely no evidence of racial bias.
Martin was criminally profiled. In the 14 months prior to the fatal Martin-Zimmerman confrontation, the Retreat at Twin Lakes apartment complex was burglarized eight times – with all suspects being roughly the same height, build and color as Martin.
Thus, Martin wasn’t stalked or “hunted down like a “rabid dog” because he was black. As noted during the trial, suspicion was raised because of Martin’s behavior and because he fit a very specific criminal profile.
Blacks aren’t helpless victims abused by “the system.” The facts prove it. The reason that blacks – specifically black males – are disproportionally represented in the criminal justice system is because we commit a disproportionate amount of violent crime. Period.
According to FBI statistics, of the 2,938 murder offenders counted in 2011, 1,803 offenders were black. The total number of black murders in 2011, regardless of age, was 2,695. Of that number, 2,447 had black offenders. Blacks are complicit in their own demise. The system that blacks fear, which they claim is out to get them, is – in reality – blacks themselves.
In other words, there are too many black and progressive fingers pointed outward and not enough pointed inward. This is because there’s no political capital to be gained by doing this – no emotions to be exploited and no one to morally indict as racist.
Does racism exist? Yes, of course. But no one race is responsible for all – or even most – of it. Does racial discrimination exist? Yes, again. And there always will be on this side of heaven.
For blacks and their enablers to continue to foment this notion that racism is America’s number one problem, however, is self-defeating, immoral and perpetuates a lie. Too many blacks have no idea how irresponsible and embarrassing they look in all of this. And I fear, very soon, they will be called on their Dream-killing commodification and idolization of race.
By then, I hope I’ve recovered from my race fatigue.