I understand the concerns over excessive use of force by police. I understand the fact that statistics and a wealth of data show that minorities are harassed more by police than are non-minorities. What I’m having a very hard time getting my head around is the degree of outrage created by the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
As I’ve noted before, and as there is indisputable evidence to demonstrate, Michael Brown committed theft and assault and most likely physically assaulted a police officer and tried to grab his gun. If I’d done all that in any jurisdiction I can think of, even as a white male American, I’d most likely be dead as well, and you can bet that there wouldn’t be hundreds of protests across the country.
Eric Garner wasn’t shot. He was wrestled down after causing a scene when police tried to stop him from continuing an illegal practice. The practice of selling untaxed loose cigarettes wasn’t what led to his death. His physical resistance and refusal to stop selling the cigarettes led to an attempt to restrain him, which proved fatal because of two factors – Garner’s underlying health conditions, of which the police had no knowledge, and the use of a supposed chokehold, which had been banned for police use some twenty years earlier, although the officer involved has denied that the hold was a chokehold. But Garner was no innocent, either. He had a criminal record with more than 30 arrests dating back over thirty years on charges such as assault, resisting arrest, and grand larceny. But the “failure” to indict a policeman ignited another round of protests.
Why is there all this outrage, as if the two individuals who died were innocents and paragons of society? They weren’t. Yes, they were human beings, but they made bad decisions, repeatedly, and they are being made out to be innocent victims of a brutal system, and all too many of the protests are attempting to pin the entire “blame” on the police. Granted, the system is at times brutal, and it needs reform in many geographical areas, but riots, demonstrations, and making saints out of people like Garner is likely to make reform even more difficult.
From a very personal point of view, these kinds of protests also anger me because they not only glorify people who don’t deserve it, but they also ignore the true innocents. I don’t see hundreds of protests for the schoolgirls and schoolboys killed every year in drive-by shootings across the country, most of whom, unfortunately, are minorities. I don’t see hundreds of protests for the truly innocent children gunned down at Sandy Hook; instead I see well-heeled and well-dressed middle-class Americans protesting that their rights to bear arms will be infringed if any sort of measure requiring weapons competency is enacted. I don’t see protests about the failure to indict financiers on criminal charges for fraudulent use of robo-signatures that have illegally thrown tens of thousands of Americans out of their houses. I don’t see hundreds of protests again natural resource companies, such as those in West Virginia, who have poisoned millions of truly innocent people.
And in the case of Ferguson, Missouri, there’s one other truly remarkable and unanswered question. Every story I’ve seen indicates that the town is sixty-five to seventy percent black, but the police force is ninety percent white, and while the mayor is black, only one of the town’s six council members is black, yet, according to news reports, less than ten percent of the black population voted in the last election. If this has been an ongoing problem, which is what all sources report, why haven’t all those minority voters turned out and voted for officials to change the system? If that low turnout is because of illegal political restrictions on voting, why hasn’t that been brought up? Either way, why aren’t the local blacks using the system by seeking the vote or voting? It would be a lot more constructive than burning down local businesses in rage, which, by the way, is in fact a crime. But then, rioting and demonstrating is a lot easier and more flamboyant than the drudgery of registering and educating voters, and then getting them to the polls. That takes work, lots of work… but that sort of work is also what brings lasting improvement and change. It also doesn’t bring headlines, which is what the media and agitators all seek.