Comment: Video Killed Trust in Police Officers

A good article over at Atlantic titled: Video Killed Trust in Police Officers.

“Most police officers are good cops and good people.” I’m tired of that refrain; that is simply not good enough anymore. Flip that around – what they’re really saying is “not all cops are bigoted assholes”.

All police officers need to be good cops and good people. Until that time, you’d be hard pressed to justify not fearing all of them.

I am not a racist

Note to everyone – if you have to say “I am not a racist” on the Larry King show, then chances are you are a racist. It seems that many people don’t realize what racism is. There is some misguided belief that unless you kill someone or assault someone physically, that you’re all well and good. That calling someone nigger or chink or whatever doesn’t rise to the level of racist behavior. Last week Boston Police officer Justin Barrett was suspended for sending an email were he referred to Henry Gates Jr. as a “banana eating jungle monkey” three times and referred to Boston Globe columnist’s article about the Gates arrest as “jungle monkey gibberish”. Yet he appeared on the Larry King show to say he is not a racist.  Really? Then – really, who is a racist?

“I am not a racist” has become a refrain that is all too familiar in these days of the “post-racial” society. Barrett’s lawyer contends that this was private communication from a private computer, to which I say that once it became public it doesn’t matter; Bartlett is a government employee and once his acts become public, then their review is fair. It’s what you do in private that identifies you as racist or not. Racists generally aren’t running down the streets wearing white robes and masks yelling “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” Racists at least are interested in self-preservation and keep their racist thoughts and speech to the like minded. It’s when this speech is moved public where action is demanded.  His lawyer says that cops that do cocaine get their jobs back and that Barrett doesn’t deserve to be fired. To that I say that drugs are an addiction, and there are many recovered addicts that are benefits to society. Officer Justin Barrett is a racist, and as such can not be recovered to the point to where they can be trusted to protect the public.

There are enough bad cops out there that we’re not sure of. Let’s get rid of the ones we know are bad.

Racial profiling vs. the benefit of the doubt

gatesyell_01As much as I want to side with Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his case against the Cambridge police, from what has been released, it seems as if he had as much to do with the escalation of events that occurred. Putting myself in the shoes of Sgt. James Crowley, he was called to the site of a potential breaking and entering. Walking into that situation must be tense. Crowley walked into an additional hornets nest of race. Black men in America are not used to getting the benefit of the doubt.  That is the big difference between how this was handled if Gates was a white professor from Harvard. Getting the benefit of the doubt is the difference. Think of it this way – think if Crowley walked in on a pretty blonde trying to get into her house; he probably would help her. Gates probably assumed he wasn’t going the get that benefit. I understand why he might feel that way, but it doesn’t help matters. Racial profiling works both ways – assuming the white cop is out to get you is not going to get you very far. I hate to say it, but a lot of cops are about power and respect – yes sirs go a long way.

That said…

Once it was determined that Gates did live there, why didn’t Crowley eat crow, apologize for the mistake and get out? “Loud and tumultuous behavior in a public place” doesn’t seem like something you get arrested for. The arrest was made to make a point; to reinforce who was in charge. You have to wonder why you can’t be “loud and tumultuous” in your own home? Would the white professor have been allowed to be more “loud and tumultuous”?

Based on any account you read, it appears that there were plenty of mistakes on both sides. A fact that should have lead President Obama to steer clear of this controversy instead of picking sides. I appreciate his honesty, but even I waited until I had a little more information.

One more thing – the woman that called the “burglary” in must be feeling horrible. She did the right thing, but she has to wonder if there were two white men, would she have called the police?

Or would she have given them the benefit of the doubt?

BTW – before the police start getting too high and mighty – I’ll point them to the case in Philadelphia getting a lot of press where a police officer harrassed a woman, putting a gun to her neck, after the officer’s son hit the woman’s car in a car accident. The lack of trust on the behalf of the public towards the police is well earned. A history of abusing the considerable power they have over you and I has made it a “them versus us” relationship not withstanding all they do for the public.

Memo to Valley Swim Club members: racism is seen in action more than words

A week after showing up to protest the Valley Swim Club’s seemingly racist policies – things have cooled down a bit. The club offered to have the camp back, the camp said no, and the story will soon fade from memory. Before that happens I want to have one last say.

One thing I’ve come to believe is that words can’t obscure racism. Since the Creative Steps day camp was booted from its agreement with the Valley Club, we’ve heard that the president’s comments about the kids changing the “complexion and atmosphere” of the club were foolish, stupid, or taken out of context. What they weren’t, according to the members,  were racist – the whole event had nothing to do with race and everything to do with space.

To that I say bullshit.

It’s very convenient when you’re caught with your pants down, to try and straighten things out by saying you’re misunderstood. The facts are this – regardless of how many other camps had their contract terminated, the action to cancel the contract took place the very next day after the camp full of blacks and hispanics made the mistake of showing up and expecting to be welcome. The very next day. The booting of the other clubs then appears to be a move to save face. The members who are saying it’s all about space should ask themselves what would have happened if the 65 kids that showed up were white instead of black and hispanic? Would they even have noticed?

The statement that the club released mentioned a diverse membership, but member John Flynn told CNN that they have one black member. Which is it? Or are they counting the grounds keepers as members? Plus isn’t one of the first things someone says when they’ve been caught in a racist moment: “but I have black friends!”?

Let me make this point: you may think you are not racist, but until the moment when that belief is put to the test, you really don’t know. Racism is seen best in what you do. And often, no matter what your words say or what you truly want to believe, your actions tell a different story. So to everyone who has told me that these people weren’t racist – I can’t believe that until I see their actions proving otherwise.

Valley Swim club backtracking

It seems as if the Valley Swim club has realized the errors of its ways and decided to go back on their decision to remove the three day camps from their clubs. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer – the club has decided to invite the day camps back to their club as soon as they figure out how to deal with their safety issues.

“Safety issues.”

I still don’t believe the safety issue excuse and I don’t believe race wasn’t an issue. First off : Timing. I don’t think the banning of the children a day after they showed up for the first time is a coincidence. Second: if safety was an issue, the quote about the the “complexion and atmosphere” made by club president John Duesler don’t make sense whatsoever. Finally, even though it’s only hearsay, it’s hard to dismiss the reported racist comments from the parents.

The club is making strides, and I really hope this situation has led to some soul searching – but I hope they are being more honest with themselves than they are with the public – otherwise nothing will change.

Old News: Tennessee GOP appears to be full of bigots

Yesterday I read a comment from a friend that stated – “since when was the “new” optional in “news?” I raise that point because from a state where the GOP Party Chairman Chip Saltsman sent the infamous”Barack the Magic Negro” song, it’s clear that the KKK – err, I mean the Tennessee GOP condones and fosters this type of language.

The story that raises my ire today is one that’s gaining momentum (home page of CNN will do that).  It’s about Republican legislative aide Sherri Goforth who sent a racist email out in her capacity as an aide, about President Obama.

Here’s the image (link opens in a new window)

The image is very offensive and maybe that should have been enough to have the woman fired. Actually, initially I was fine with her being rebuked – then I read her explanation.

From Christian Graham of Nashville is Talking:

When I asked her if she understood the controversial nature of the photo, Goforth would only say she felt very bad about accidentally sending it to the wrong list. When I gave her a second chance to address the controversial nature of the email, she again repeated that she only felt bad about sending it to the wrong list of people.

“I went on the wrong email and I inadvertently hit the wrong button,” Goforth told NIT. “I’m very sick about it, and it’s one of those things I can’t change or take back.”

First off – great job by Graham to get her to address the root problem. Given a second chance, Goforth did not. I’d like to know who the right list of people would be? The fact that she didn’t dissociate herself with the statement made by the image says it all. How can any politician even be seen with her?  The fact that she wasn’t fired says that this behavior isn’t toxic enough to affect our image, otherwise she would have been fired just give an appearance of outrage.