The Police And Sub-humans

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[Speaking Truth To Empower]

“Until the philosophy that holds one race superior and another inferior is finally and permanently discredited—then everywhere there will be war.”

Those prophetic words immortalized in the Reggae classic “War” by Bob Marley were taken from a speech presented by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie before the League of Nations in October of 1963.

If anyone doubts the truth of those words all they have to do is look at the chaos occurring within the international arena, in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, and so forth. But, it can also be seen at the national and local level.

In recent days, there has been much talk about the shooting of Police Officers Herman Yan and Russel Timoshenko by three Black men, Dexter Bostick, Robert Ellis and Lee Woods in Brooklyn. Timoshenko died on July 13, five days after his shooting.

The suspects are now in custody and in the next several weeks the case will start moving towards trial. Yet, we already see racism rearing its ugly head. Only yesterday, according to media reports, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association Patrick Lynch said: “It’s with great respect that we stand with the Timoshenko family today to make sure those sub-humans who took their son’s life will remain behind bars each and every day.”

The men may or may not be guilty; the evidence presented via media so far seems substantial. Yet, shouldn’t a jury determine the men’s guilt or innocence?

Sub-humans? Obviously we understand what Lynch is really saying. He used the plural form, meaning he believes all the three Black men are sub-humans. But is he also sending out a message to other people, including other white cops that Black men in general are “sub-humans”? The phrase was not a slip of the tongue. It was a reckless racist statement that is meant to incite hatred towards Blacks and also to poison the jury pool.

Excuse the pun, but if Lynch could have his way as his statement implies, the three men may was well just be strung up on a tree. His statement is so blatantly racist that no judge will be able to ignore it down the line. He is using the tragic killing of the officer to push his own agenda; how else would someone media savvy make such racist references notwithstanding the tragic killing?

Violence is abhorrent. Every life is precious; yet only some are valued. Violence, especially when systematic violence by the state is used to pummel segments of the populace into submission, begets violence. “Blowback” becomes inevitable.

In the corporate media, stories generally portray cops as heroes. True, all cops are not thugs; some are decent human beings and, occasionally, some even heroes. But those of us who are Black and Latino know that merely by virtue of our skin color we become targets when the police are told to go “get some criminals.” Routinely, we are stopped and harassed for no good reason—it is so pervasive and common that it can only be explained as a deliberate pattern; nationally. Many in the media –especially white writers who don’t experience similar harassment and abuses – and the larger society close their eyes and shut their ears to atrocities committed against us. Our humanity has been in question since the rise of racism.     

But whenever there is a cop shooting, there is a crescendo of hypocritical righteous indignation that flows from the larger society. This reality makes the message very clear: if you are Black or one of those “others” your life is not as valuable. To all of those who reserve their rage only for when cops are shot: where was your voice when police thug Justin Volpe rammed a plunger into the rectum of Abner Louima? Where was it when Diallo was murdered in a bloody hail of 41 shots outside his doorstep? Where is it in response to the character assassination—of him being a drug dealer—that followed the 50 shots that made Sean Bell’s marriage day his last on earth? Is the life of a cop any more precious than that of Bell, Dorismond or Diallo?    

White America has a profound disrespect for the lives of non-white people. In recent months, Brooklyn has been a hotbed for police brutality, which is underscored by the brutish treatment visited upon Attorney Michael Tariff Warren who was beaten in front of his wife for questioning the tactics he witnessed cops using during the arrest of a young Black man.

On June 21, the Warrens were driving on Vanderbilt Avenue when they saw cops roughing up a young Black male whom they had already securely arrested. Like good lawyers the pair realized they were seeing police brutality. So, the Warrens—after identifying themselves as lawyers at a safe distance—spoke up to the cops, telling them that the beating was unnecessary and that they should take the youth to the precinct.

That was when the main officer kicking the youth in his neck, head and ribs, a Sgt. Talvy, came over to them.  Talvy told them “I don’t give a fuck who you are, get back in your car!” the Warrens later said. The Warrens complied, but started taking down notes, names and license plate numbers. Talvy apparently didn’t like this and proceeded to abuse his police power by reaching into the window of the Warrens’ car, repeatedly punching Warren, before dragging him from his car.

When his wife protested she was punched in the face by Sgt. Talvy. Both were eventually arrested on charges of obstruction, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, then, taken to the notorious 77th precinct.

“The rule of law” is a phrase that has been in vogue for the last few years. But how can there be any respect for the “rule of law” when those who are supposed to uphold it break it? The actions of this sergeant are beyond reprehensible, yet his type of behavior—and that of others like him—is not only condoned but is also rewarded. What does that say about this society which claims it believes in justice and equality?

Let’s ask Patrick Lynch and his “sub-humans” theory.

Benjamin is a member of The Black Star News's Editorial Board.

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