Police Killings of Blacks Escalate as Obama Era Closes

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[Speaking Truth To Power]

As mass protests continue in North Carolina, and with the start of protests in San Diego, along with an uneasy tension in Oklahoma, we must face the reality of what all these police shooting deaths of Black men represent: the front lines of an ongoing genocide in Black America.

Ominously, as the presidential era of Barack Obama comes to an end the attacks against Black America are being ramped up—and the police, as always, represent the primary force of repression.

Over the last week, we’re again faced with unjustified cases of police shooting Black men to death. In Oklahoma, North Carolina, and now in San Diego, we have a tale of three separate police shootings—along with the different tactics and similarities police use to tarnish transparency and seriously subvert justice.

In North Carolina, police and local government officials initially engaged in the full-scale suppression of the available police videos of the shooting of 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott, before relenting, somewhat, to people protest-pressure by releasing portions of the police video. All of these videos must be released.

Where is the transparency in North Carolina? Initially, after the killing of Mr. Scott, police proclaimed video evidence would verify their claim that Scott’s shooting by Officer Brentley Vinson was justified. However, the videos we’ve seen do no such thing. None of the videos show Scott with a gun—and like other horrible police killings Scott is shown backing away from police, before he is shot down dead.

The only thing the video confirms is that the police lied.

Now police are trying to justify Scott’s killing with irrelevant talk about his criminal past.

In the most recent killing, on Tuesday, 38-year-old Ugandan immigrant Alfred Olango, was shot to death by police in the city of El Cajon, San Diego. Police killed Olango after his sister called police to help her brother. Mr. Olango was apparently having a mental breakdown due to the recent death of a close friend.

Police claimed Olango took an aggressive stance like he had a gun. However, police admitted he had no weapon. We now know he had nothing more than an e-cigarette, called a vape in his hand when he was killed.

The police have released a still-shot photo of the killing that they say justify the shooting of Olango. However, the police in San Diego are refusing to release police video of the shooting, like their counterparts in North Carolina. Protests have erupted in San Diego just as they have in North Carolina.

In Oklahoma, police released the police video of 40-year-old Terrence Crutcher being shot by Officer Betty Shelby fairly quickly—unlike the video suppression efforts of police and authorities in North Carolina and San Diego.

This tactic is probably the reason why there was no mass protests and rebellion in the streets of Tulsa—as we see in North Carolina and San Diego. By quickly releasing the video, it gave an air of transparency to police and officials in Oklahoma.

In North Carolina, in particular, police have made a mockery of the concept of transparency. It was bad enough that North Carolina police and officials refused to release the videos of the shooting. But the comments of the state’s governor and police chief give us clear examples of why police have little credibility among Black people.

Last week, during a press conference the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Chief Kerr Putney had an interestingly asinine reply to a reporter’s question about the lack of full transparency. “I never said full transparency,” replied Chief Putney. “I said transparency and transparency is in the eye of the beholder.”

That's what happens when a police official makes spinning, rather than releasing facts, his priority.

Chief Putney —who is Black— might think this is a cute comment. But, this kind of ridiculous rhetoric only breeds more distrust between African-Americans and police. Being Black, it’s sad this police chief doesn’t seem to grasp this and the fact that he's being used in a despicable manner.

Moreover, these kinds of senseless statements can only escalate and inflame an already volatile situation.

North Carolina'’s Republican Governor Pat McCrory was not much better repeatedly lamenting about the use of social media in organizing protests. Besides social media, what seemed to bother the governor— more than the killing of Scott, whose death he barely acknowledged— was the destruction of the private property of business interests.

The governor stood by the police chief’s decision in refusing to release the videos and recently signed a bill allowing police to conceal videos of police shootings.

In Oklahoma, Officer Betty Shelby has been charged with first degree manslaughter. Unlike the negative responses in North Carolina and San Diego, officials in Oklahoma have dealt better with their police shooting, from a public relations standpoint.

Many have praised police in Tulsa, for the relatively quick release of the video, which at least gives the appearance that officials there believe in transparency.

Yet, the important question is: will this lead to real justice for Mr. Crutcher’s family? Or, did Oklahoma officials cleverly employ a strategy of protest containment damage control to stymie the anger that may have ignited if they didn’'t release the video and charge this officer?

Tulsa District Attorney Steve Kunzweiller, during a press conference announcing the charge, made it clear that Officer Shelby “is presumed innocent under the law until a judge or jury determines otherwise.” Obviously, prosecutors don’'t usually remind the public of the “perp's” rights. They often use every opportunity to tell the public that the accused is a monster especially when dealing with Black suspects.

Is this his way of telling us not to expect a conviction?

Mr. Kunzweiller’'s comments should remind us of Ferguson prosecutor Bob McCullough —who acted as a defense attorney attacking the characters of those witnesses whose testimonies didn’t jive with the account of Officer Darren Wilson who killed unarmed Michael Brown in cold blood.

As the killings of Black people continue unabated in America, politicians twiddle their thumbs. Some even suggest there isn’'t really much of a problem. Indiana Governor Mike Pence, the current Republican vice-presidential nominee, recently said "Donald Trump and I believe there's been far too much of this talk of institutional bias or racism within law enforcement.”"

Pence then went on to say that “mistakes are made.” Is this all he can say, given all the unjustified killings of Black people we’'ve witnessed over the last few years? Isn’'t it quite clear such politicians view Black lives as cheap? In Pence's view police are merely serial mistake-makers.

Donald Trump— during the Hofstra University presidential debate— at Hofstra University, in answering a question about racial healing, talked about "“law and order”" and the need to ramp up the discredited, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policing technique.

As the chief proponent of the racist “Birther” conspiracy what should we expect?

He's the man who had much to do with railroading the Central Park Five, the Black teenagers wrongfully convicted of raping a White woman jogger; he placed full-page ads in the City's daily newspapers calling for the return of the death penalty.

His feelings towards Black people is fair; years ago, the federal government found that
he had discriminated against African-Americans seeking housing by refusing to rent to them.

Unfortunately, many of these politicians, especially Republicans, cannot honestly speak about racism. On a BBC interview, Republican Congressman Robert Pittenger said Blacks protesting police violence in North Carolina "hate White people because White people are successful and they're not.”" After being excoriated on social media, Congressman Pittenger tweeted that his BBC comment "“doesn't reflect who I am.”"

The BBC didn't torture him for his heinous freely-offered comments. The remarks reflect who he --and many others-- are.

With comments like these, is there any wonder why Black lives don’t matter at all to America’'s police officers?

Where are all those people who were so angry with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for exercising his First Amendment right? Apparently, the killings of Black Americans has little, if any, human effect on a significant part of White America.

How can any White American hypocritically claim “all lives matter” while remaining silent in the face of the mass killing of Blacks by those who supposedly took an oath “to protect and serve?”

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