A black man finally snapped and killed cops in revenge for the ongoing murders of black men across this country. Yes, he was mentally unstable. Aren’t they all? The ones who crack, pick up a gun, a blade, a suicide vest? Still, it usually takes a perceived injustice to bring the house of cards tumbling down, slicing and cutting as it goes.
And what do we call innocent victims of senseless violence and war? Collateral damage. Always despised that term, but that’s what those officers became in Dallas. As always, it’s a damned shame when a human life gets caught in the crosshairs. But what did we expect?
We’re in a war, folks. Black people are sick and tired of being treated like expendable dogs in a kill shelter; and that’s what happens when that treatment is sustained by a system, which not only allows it, but planned for it (see War on Drugs). What are people supposed to do? Ideally: dialogue with the enemy, peacefully protest, vote for the people who give a shit. And, based on the Black Lives Matter protest I attended this past Sunday in Los Angeles, that is the goal. And I know it will yield the results we want. I’m an optimist. How long it will take is anyone’s guess (while marching, a virulent old guy assailed us with this: My son was killed by a black man, how do you respond to that?). But attempt it we must, because living in fear is not an option.
As a black person living in this country, I have not experienced violence at the hands of police officers. I don’t think the majority of cops get up in the morning, thinking, Can’t wait to kick some nigger’s ass. I’m too hopeful to believe that. But I have seen plenty of people I know—black and white—subjected to disgusting abuses of power by the police, enough for me to have, not just a healthy respect for law enforcement personnel, but baldfaced fear. Fear of what can happen to a life when it unwittingly gets sucked into our corrupt criminal justice system. Cops can ruin your life because they’re having a bad day.
I once had a near miss with a police cruiser. I had just looked both ways at a stop sign, and was proceeding with caution when a cop car bearing two officers came barreling down the street at high speed, not on the way to a bad-guy showdown, it turns out. They were just speeding. Dexterity and reflexes I didn’t know I had prevented my car and me from being destroyed. I felt their car’s breath on my neck, the close shave of death. They pulled over, I did too, and exited my vehicle on shaky legs. But what happened next freaked me out even more. Standing on that street corner in Hollywood, already in a state, I froze as one police car after another descended on the scene. There must have been six or eight of them, each bearing two cops, everyone of them, including a captain, intent on asking me—in the friendliest way possible—what had happened, if I was okay, etc. That’s when I started to cry uncontrollably. I wasn’t balling or anything, but unstoppable, embarrassing tears flowed down my face, causing hiccoughs when I tried to speak. Surrounded by all those guys in blue, I was so damned scared. This is just me, and I’m sorry to say it but I don’t trust them. I trust individual human beings. I have friend who are cops, and I love them. But those strangers on the street?Brrrrrrr.
So what’s the answer? Forget trying to reform the complicit media, which lives for its bloody leads. That’s not changing, ever. Unfortunately the solution is a multi-pronged beast. I personally think we could start by addressing the Silence of the Blue Sheep. Police officers often decry that “lone wolf” and “one bad apple.” Only thing is they know who those guys are, but do they ever raise their voices? Never. One of the signs I saw at the march said it best: Silence = Violence. Can’t someone design an app for anonymous reporting by cops to their superiors about problem cops? Apps already exist for anonymously reporting sexual assaults or violent behavior by a friend while it’s happening.
I don’t pretend to know the answers. All I can say is: Figure it out, federal government; local governments; police precincts across this giant country. Reform or face the wrath of those who will eventually snap in the face of humiliation and disrespect.