Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Thursday, July 7th, 2016.


More Spontaneous Public Executions

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criminal justice

Two more horrific murders of black men at the hands of police. Details are still coming to light, but it appears Alton Sterling, 37, was selling CDs on the street outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge. A homeless man called the police to tell them Sterling was “brandishing a gun,” but so far no one else who saw Sterling noticed this.  Police showed up, immobilized Sterling on the ground, and then shot and killed him while he was immobilized. I don’t see any other way to interpret the videos of the incident. Sterling may or may not have been carrying a gun, but we’re talking about Louisiana here — very lenient gun laws.

Philando Castile, 32, died in a Minneapolis hospital after being shot by police after being pulled over for driving with a broken tail light. My understanding is that Castile informed the police officer that he was carrying a concealed weapon, for which he had a permit. Then the officer told him to show some ID. Castile reached for his wallet and was shot.

Of course, Sterling and Castile were black. Meanwhile, some white yahoo in Raleigh actually shot at cops and was apprehended without injury.

But right now I want to talk about reactions. As of this writing I don’t believe Donald Trump has made any statement whatsoever about the shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota. He’s still whining that people called him an anti-Semite, for some reason.

After Alton Sterling’s death Hillary Clinton issued a fairly standard this-is-just-awful statement that says a lot and nothing at the same time. Here ’tis:

“The death of Alton Sterling is a tragedy, and my prayers are with his family, including his five children. From Staten Island to Baltimore, Ferguson to Baton Rouge, too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident. Something is profoundly wrong when so many Americans have reason to believe that our country doesn’t consider them as precious as others because of the color of their skin.

“I am glad the Department of Justice has agreed to a full and thorough review of this shooting. Incidents like this one have undermined the trust between police departments and the communities they serve. We need to rebuild that trust. We need to ensure justice is served. That begins with common sense reforms like ending racial profiling, providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and supporting municipalities that refer the investigation and prosecution of police-involved deaths to independent bodies. All over America, there are police officers demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples.

“Progress is possible if we stand together and never waver in our fight to secure the future that every American deserves.”

Can’t really argue with it, except I would have said “atrocity” instead of “tragedy.” But we don’t want to piss off police unions, I guess. And the statement has a kind of boilerplate quality to it that skims the surface too much, to my mind. And how’s about making DOJ reviews automatic after police shootings? Still, it’s something, when what we got from Trump was nothing.

What was it T. S. Eliot wrote — not with a bang, but a whimper? Instead we get lots of bangs, followed by whimpering.

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