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Police violence is genesis of violent reaction

Melvin B. Miller
Police violence is genesis of violent reaction
“This is a good example of what police provocation has produced.” (Photo: Dan Drew)

People with sound mind are horrified by murder, especially the mass killings that are now so common. President Obama has defined mass shooters as “troubled.” He is reported to have said, “By definition, if you shoot people who pose no threat to you — strangers — you have a troubled mind.” Investigators are now researching the life of Micah Johnson to understand why he launched what appears to be a recent one-man attack on the Dallas police.

Johnson, 25, served in Afghanistan as a member of a Texas National Guard unit, and he was separated from the military with an honorable discharge. More than likely some information will develop to raise questions about his emotional stability, but the real issue is whether it is reasonable for mentally sound blacks to feel threatened by the very presence of the police.

Just two years ago on July 14, 2014 the Staten Island, N.Y. police killed Eric Garner with an illegal chokehold while arresting him allegedly for selling cigarettes. Since then there has been a series of attacks against blacks by police across the country. On Aug. 9, Officer Darren Wilson of the Ferguson, Mo. police gunned down the unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown. This incident attracted national attention, but it by no means ended the police carnage. On Nov. 22, the police in Cleveland, Ohio shot to death 12-year-old Tamir Rice who was playing with a toy gun. On Feb. 10, 2015 the police in Pasco, Wash. fatally shot Antonio Zambrano-Montes who was running away with his hands raised after he had been throwing stones.

On April 4, 2015 Walter Scott was callously gunned down as he ran away in North Charleston, S.C. by officer Michael T. Slager. The video of the event showed Slager trying to plant a taser beside the mortally wounded Scott to make it appear that the shooting was justified. Just four days later, police in Baltimore arrested Freddie Gray for no apparent reason, and failed to secure him properly in the van. Gray died from injuries he received from the rough ride to the police station.

A cellphone video showed police in McKinney, Texas on June 5, 2015 threatening with pointed guns unarmed black swimming suit-clad teenagers allegedly involved in a disturbance at a private swimming pool. Again in Texas in Prairie View, on July 10 a state trooper stopped a vehicle being driven by Sandra Bland. After a dispute with the officer, Bland was arrested and taken to jail. Events of the arrest were recorded on the officer’s dashboard camera. Bland was later found dead in her jail cell.

On July 19, 2015 Samuel Debose was stopped in Cincinnati, Ohio by the police because of a missing plate for the front bumper of his car. Although Debose offered no resistance or opposition, as shown by the police cam, the officer shot and killed him.

Now on July 5, 2016 in Baton Rouge, La. Alton Sterling was knocked to the ground and held by two officers who shot and killed him. The next day in a St. Paul, Minn. suburb Philando Castile was shot and killed during a traffic stop, with a woman and her young child in the car.

In addition to these murders and life threatening assaults, blacks have been forced to endure from the police excessive “stop and frisks,” common “driving while black” episodes and numerous insults and discourtesies. Many blacks indeed feel reasonably threatened by the police. Like many veterans returning from battle in Afghanistan, some blacks are suffering from PTSD just from their awareness of confrontations between the police and African Americans.

The long list of police abuses are easily sufficient to cause a strong-minded individual to “snap.” Reports from those who knew Johnson suggest that is precisely what happened. His assault on the police was so cool and calculated that some reports will undoubtedly try to brand him an ogre. What needs to happen now is for the police across the country to change their offensive culture toward blacks as well as other citizens in order to eliminate the enmity.