Donald J. Trump’s Thursday night Republican nominee coronation speech focused substantially on law and order and was breathtakingly disconnected from reality. Trump zeroed on the eight police officers killed – five in Dallas and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana – by deranged black gunmen and promised to crack down on people who attack the police.
Yet, as Trump pandered to the essentially white, rabid conservative delegates, he wouldn’t address the reason why some police are under fire: The backlash from a steady stream of lethal and sadistic blue-on-black crime.
This month a 37-year-old black father was shot dead while pinned to the ground by several police. A day later in Minnesota, a black male school aide was shot while at the wheel of his car. The dreadlocked man bled to death as his woman live streamed the assault on her phone.
The night before Trump’s law and order speech, a black male mental health worker in North Miami took to the street in order to bring back an autistic 23-year-old male. When police responded to a 911 call, the worker was ordered to get on the ground. He complied and put his hands up to assure he is not a threat. He also explained that the patient was playing with a toy truck, not a rifle. The worker was shot three times in his legs.
“Why did you shoot me?” the worker asked the cop. “I don’t know,” Charles Kinsey said the police offer told him.
All this month as I logged into my Facebook page, friends were posting inexplicable police assaults recorded on camera phones, i.e. a Savannah, Georgia case in which cops armed with a warrant asked a young black man to tell his name, a name that was not on the warrant. The deputies proceeded to taser then handcuff the man, despite his protests, and neighbors complaining that the authorities were arresting the wrong person. The police then complained that the male “kind of looked like” the person they needed [he didn’t].
The manhandled male was a nonviolent drug offender on probation and faced the possibility of jail time because of the arrest, and loss of employment.
Another Facebook post showed a police officer who kicked a black man in the face as he was lying face down on the pavement. That officer was fired by his city and given a payout, said the narrator of the video. The arrested man who was freed, because he had not committed a crime, suffered a shattered jaw.
And oh, women are not exempt from violence. A handcuffed woman in Jacksonville, Florida was coldcocked by a rookie police offer as partners watched, either with approval or shocked dismay. That officer was fired too, according to the narrator of that citizen-made video.
Trump and other “back the blue” acolytes cannot talk about public safety yet ignore the anecdotal evidence of police misconduct – and even murder – that is stoking distrust and rebellion. Black Lives Matter protestors must not be dismissed for demonstrating peacefully; they simply “refuse to participate in their own oppression”, to borrow the quip from CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill.
Unless politicians, police, and the public work together to fire or punish the estimated one out of every 20 police who are mentally unhinged, domestic terrorists with badges, the real heroes in blue and the citizens they protect are in danger.
Note, the two black gunmen who mowed down cops in Texas and Louisiana shared these traits: They were former military men skilled in shooting automatic rifles and also skilled in duck-and-cover battlefield tactics. They became disillusioned, and the repeated reports of videotaped police attacks on citizens moved the men to murderous rampages that resulted in their deaths. Because this country is saturated in high-powered automatic firearms, a random human time bomb is poised to strike again.
We must defuse the explosive.
The law enforcement and citizen communities better come together, fix the serious cracks in policing – simply small numbers of bad cops – and build trust, or more tragedies, plus cynicism will pile up.
Republican nominee Trump pandered to thousands of partisans, and conveniently ignored the other half of law and other; the millions of us must cope with the entire equation.