Las Vegas and Texas Police Killings: Why Black People Fear Cops More Than ISIS

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Officer Lopera. KTNV screenshot.

The violent armed assault Wednesday, in Virginia, on some Republican lawmakers was followed by a steady stream of rhetoric against violence on the floors of Congress.
Somehow, now that the violence has visited Republican politicians we get strong denunciation of violence from Capitol Hill.
Why don't we hear such speeches when innocent Black people, like Tashii Farmer, are killed by police
Last week, Las Vegas Metropolitan police officer Kenneth Lopera was charged with involuntary manslaughter and oppression under the color of office, for the Mother’s Day chokehold killing of Farmer, 40, in Las Vegas. Farmer’s killing has drawn comparisons to the chokehold killing of Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York by still employed New York Police Department (NYPD) officer Daniel Pantaleo.
Officer Lopera was the second cop last week to be arrested for a chokehold death. In Texas, Sheriff Deputy Shauna Thompson and her husband Terry Thompson were charged in the May 31 death of John Hernandez. Why is it that politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, say little about the “rule of law” when it comes to punishing police who kill Black and Latino people? What message is this silence supposed to send to Black communities?
Mr. Farmer, the father of two children, was killed at The Venetian Casino, a Las Vegas strip resort hotel by officer Lopera after, ironically, reportedly asking him and another fellow officer for help. Allegedly, Farmer told these officers he was being chased by unknown persons. Reportedly, at some point after this, Farmer ran away from these officers into a restricted area of the hotel.
We’re told an "altercation" ensued where Lopera repeatedly punched Farmer. A stun gun was used seven times, which is more than allowed by police guidelines. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Undersheriff Kevin McMahil said the use of the Taser was excessive.
"The policy ... states that once the suspect has been exposed to three cycles of the Taser or the electronic control device, it shall be deemed ineffective unless exigent circumstances exist," McMahill said. "Officers are taught to transition to another tool." Officer Lopera did indeed “transition to another tool” by using what police refer to as a “rear naked choke” hold.
The use of this chokehold killed Farmer, just as it did Eric Garner here in New York—and just as it killed 24-year-old John Hernandez in Texas. We’ll examine that case shortly.
The killing of Mr. Farmer after he initially asked these officers for help is symptomatic of the deadly interactions Black people face from police. How did this officer end up killing this man who asked for help? Who was this officer “protecting and serving” when he took this man’s life?
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Officer Lopera’s conduct was criminal. “The bottom line is, a police officer who crosses the line and commits crimes should be charged,” Wolfson said. All cops who engage in criminality should be charged, if those who give grandstanding speeches expect us to respect America’s so-called “rule of law” principle, which loses credibility every time police prosecutors and politicians orchestrate ways to cover-up for criminal cops.
Although this killer-cop has been charged, what we now know tells us there will be no justice in this case, as in most cases where police kill Black people. Witness the outrageous jury acquittal of Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez for killing Philando Castile (my column on that shortly).
In the Las Vegas case, the maximum time Lopera faces is eight years. So, even in the unlikely event this officer is zealously prosecuted and convicted, he would get off lightly for taking another man’s life.
Equally outrageous is the fact that his bail was a mere $6,000. This is a clear example of the devaluation of Black life in White America. Would a Black person who killed a cop, regardless of the manner, be given any bail at all?
We hear of Black people, presumably out of fear for the lives, running from cops, being shot dead; now we hear of one running to cops for help getting killed.
So what are Black people supposed to do faced with such provocations? Are police really meant to "protect and serve" Black Americans?
Nowadays, the terror threat Capitol Hill tells us we must fear is ISIL. But most Black people do not agonize about being a victim of a terror attack by ISIL, or any of the other so-called "Islamic" terror groups. The terror many Black Americans fear is being brutalized and killed by racist police not ISIL.
Even when obvious cold-blooded murders are perpetrated by the hands of killer-cops upstanding political pillars of White American society pretend to be deaf, dumb and blind to this reality.
When Michael Slager murdered Walter Scott, in South Carolina, by repeatedly pumping shots into his back, did any Republican politicians speak out against this outrage in the Congress?
What about when Officer Jason Van Dyke murdered Laquan McDonald by shooting him down on a Chicago street as he walked away from police?
In these past years, it has become fashionable for these phony folks to complain that Black people, supposedly, say nothing about so-called “Black-on-Black violence” while decrying police violence.
It's an absurd lie given the organizations that work to stem gang violence in Black communities -- which are also battered by high unemployment due to economic apartheid. This is idiotic false equivalence aimed at diversion. In any case how many of these same critics denounce White-on-White violence?
Should we not hold police, who White society gives guns and the “license to kill,” to a much higher standard?
Last week also Shauna Thompson, 45, and her husband 41-year-old Terry Thompson were arrested for the May 28 chokehold killing of 24-year-old John Hernandez at a Denny restaurant in Houston. Deputy Sheriff Thompson was off-duty at the time—although brutalizing Black and Latino people is apparently a fulltime affair with some.
According to authorities, Thompson’s husband confronted Hernandez because he was allegedly intoxicated and was seen urinating in public. According to a lawyer for Thompson, he told Hernandez to stop urinating and he claims Hernandez then punched him, before Thompson retaliated by choking Hernandez to death.
Did Hernandez stop urinating midstream and punch Thompson? Or did Hernandez finish urinating before punching Thompson? Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Farmer were both fathers. Farmer had two children and Mr. Hernandez has at least one child, a daughter who was with him at the restaurant, and who most likely saw her father being brutalized. This child will now be scarred for life not only by her father’s death but by witnessing the event.
In Wednesday’s armed assault on Republicans, a White politically disgruntled man, James Hodgkinson, shot Republican Steve Scalise critically wounding him. Several Republicans and conservatives have since given speeches denouncing the attack. But these are the same politicians who say nothing about the daily violence innocent African-Americans experience at the hands of police. This selective condemnation of violence tells us Congress thinks it should be immune from the violence it tacitly condones with its policies and silence.
Republicans like to talk about the “sanctity of life.” If they really care about life, why do they support gun manufacturing merchants of death? And why don’t they speak out against killer-cops?
Here is the ultimate irony of Wednesday’s shooting in Washington. It was the actions of two Black Capitol Police officers that preventing a real deadly tragedy from occurring. Officer Crystal Griner and Officer David Bailey who were assigned as special agents to Rep. Scalise saved his life—and that of other Republicans present. Both of these agents returned fire, even as they sustained gunshots and thwarted the deadly intent of Hodgkinson.
Sadly, dressed in civilian clothes both Officer Griner and Officer Bailey, as well as any member of their family or friends, could very well under different circumstances be victims of police brutality --and end up dead-- due to the color of their skin.

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