Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Much Should Black People Submit to Police Oppression?


"Just because you're wearing your little suit, that doesn't mean nothing!"
-- Black Woman Tased in this video!

Hat Tip to AAPP.

This video demonstrates that potentially lethal force is being used on drivers who are not suspected of a crime (failure to wear a seat belt is a civil infraction in most places) and who pose no significant threat of harm to police officers or members of the public. This potentially lethal force is being used punitively, to administer an "attitude adjustment".

Would this officer's request that this Black woman submit to arrest be "unreasonable" if the request was was subsequent to a color-aroused traffic stop? Is this arrest not the fruit of the poisonous color arousal tree?

Hypothetically, (not in this video) if a police officer TELLS a Black woman that she is being arrested because she is Black, should the Black woman (a) submit to the arrest, (b) non-violently resist with passive civil disobedience, or (c) resist with force. Is your answer based on moral obligation, societal norms, or fear of police violence? Hypothetically, is it ever morally justified to passively and non-violently resist after an officer after he has said that he is going to arrest your? E.G. sitting down and refusing to move? If so, when?

I disagree with the assessment that this woman was "ill-tempered" or "mouthy." Look at what happened. Someone accosted her on the street and obliged her to stop her car because she was (1) Black, (2) in an old car, and pretextually (3) not wearing her seat belt.

It should infuriate anyone to be stopped for "driving while Black", on the pretext of a failure to wear a seatbelt. This is harassment based on skin color, but she can't prove it to the satisfaction of a white judge, an all-white jury, white courts and a 99% white US Senate, or the 43-term white male monopoly of the presidency.

Just as Black people were once forced to step off the curb to let white people pass, (we knew this was required of us), the constant police pressure on Black people who are not obviously doing anything abnormal is a way of keeping us "in our place," of constantly reminding us that we are not as good as they are and we are utterly subject to their (white peoples') will.

And yet, in the face of this lifelong provocation and constant white menace, the Black woman peacefully stopped her car, NEVER swore at the police officer, and she never cursed him. Of course she was afraid! She knew that this officer, as a representative of white oppression, could shoot her dead and continue to collect his pay.

Nonetheless, she NEVER, EVER made a threatening move toward him, and she NEVER, EVER tried to flee. She was utterly under control of herself, but she was unwilling to submit to the police officer's illegitimate authority. (His authority was illegitimate, because his reason for stopping her was to enforce Black submission to white power, not to enforce seat belt use.)

This Black woman DID threaten to file a law suit against the police for their behavior. What that wrong? If she has a right to file a law suit, why shouldn't she warn the officers before they engage in the behavior upon which the suit would be based? The truth is, we believe that we should NEVER speak about our "rights" to police officers, because it will result in a "beat down." If filing a law suit is the appropriate remedy, then warning that we MIGHT file a lawsuit is also appropriate behavior. Isn't that what we do when a store refuses to honor a guarantee? Aren't the police theoretically supposed to honor society's guaranties to us?

We are NOT WRONG for asking a police officer for his badge number. The Police Officer is wrong for retaliating against us when we do so. Again, society's and our own insistence that we are to blame when the police oppress us may help to explain our relatively higher rates of high blood pressure in the United States.

This is why I cannot understand anyone saying she was "ill-tempered" or "mouthy." We are so accustomed to being absolutely obedient that the slightest expression of how we actually feel and what we really think seems like an outrageous display of arrogance to us. We are like fearful Black parents begging our children not to use the "white" bathroom, the highways that all of us should share equally according to the US Constitution, because we should know that, as Blacks, we are subject to restraint and harassment at any time, for any reason or for no reason. We should "know our place" and teach our children "their place."

If we don't, it is OUR FAULT that Mr. Charlie lyches Emmet Till for failing to step off the sidewalk and let the good white people pass. We all have choices, but the oppressive behavior of white people is NEVER our fault. Our belief that it is and our acceptance of responsibility for white people's actions may help to explain why Black people in the United States have high blood pressure so much more often than whites.

If the officer's concern was society's concern for this woman's safety, as expressed by the requirement that people wear seat belts, then was electrocuting this woman the most appropriate expression of society's concern for her? As many people have said earlier, this was all about CONTROL - and the disproportionate traffic stops of Black people derive from and are a direct function of the disproportionate control and submission that Mr. Charlie requires of Black people.

Using this video as a object lesson in which to discuss our society generally, I believe there is a valid argument that this Black woman, through this officer, is refusing to submit totally to a white society that she knows is oppressing her.

As for the specific issue of tasers, I don't think we can make any headway against tasers until and unless we acknowledge that it is simply wrong to use potentially lethal force on passive and non-violent people. In a perfect world we could implement carefully written rules as to the use of electric shocks on people who have not been convicted of any crime, however this is NOT a perfect world. When authorized to shock anyone, police will inevitably disproportionately shock Black people, just as they disproportionately shoot Black people:
Many of the fatal shootings by police take
place in Black communities. Black
perpetrators were 7.7 times more likely to be
shot at than Whites in St. Louis, Missouri
(St. Louis Police Department, 1992), six
times more likely that Whites in New York

(Fyfe, 1981), and four times more likely
than Whites in Chicago (Geller & Karales,

1981). Between 1970 and 1984, the number
of Black civilians killed by police dropped
significantly (Sherman & Cohn, 1986). In
general, fatal shootings by police have
decreased over the past decade.
Any attempt to inform people about interacting with law enforcement should start by explaining to them that there are two million Americans behind bars, more than in any other nation in the world, and 49% of those people are Black.

The disproportionate representation of black Americans in the U.S. criminal justice system is well documented.17 Blacks comprise 13 percent of the national population, but 30 percent of people arrested, 41 percent of people in jail,18 and 49 percent of those in prison.19
Blacks should try very hard not to become a part of these arrest and incarceration statistics, but one in ten of us do anyway.

So, be careful not to make the mistakes that this woman in the video may have made before she was electrocuted:

Don't be Black;

Don't drive an old car, because it attracts the attention of police;

If you're Black, don't drive a new car, because it will attract the attention of police.

Don't fail to pay civil fines, even though they may be equal to one week's pay and are the same for extremely poor people as for extremely wealthy ones;

Don't drive in the United States of America;

Don't live in the United States of America.

These simple precautions can prevent Black people from becoming incarceration statistics.


AAPP said...

Francis, African Americans who are stopped for traffic violations are less likely than whites to believe the police had a legitimate reason to stop them, and more likely to believe they were mistreated, according to a number of national studies.

The fact of the matter is this young lady felt she was being stopped for Driving While Black.

You remember the New Jersey Turnpike shootings that generated protests and demands for state and federal investigations of the New Jersey state police on "racial profiling."

Complaints of the police "profiling" is nothing new, either in New Jersey, South Carolina or in the U.S.

African Americans in South Carolina have complained for years about being pulled over for "driving while black." I know growing up in Boston, i always knew that when going through the Carolina's expect to be stopped because your black.

What this young lady went through is what South Carolina blacks have complained about for years, motorists who charged that they had been pulled over for minor traffic infractions or for no apparent reason at all.

Francis you remember that states like NJ established task forces to investigate complaints of racial profiling. Remember the NJ State Attorney General's Task Force report on racial profiling that made national headlines?

NJ state officials found that forty percent of traffic stops involved black and Latino drivers (who were only about thirteen percent of all drivers on the NJ. Get this Francis, Eighty percent of those arrested during traffic stops were people of color.

I'm glad you have placed this profiling issue on your blog.

There will always be some blacks who feel they have "arrived" and won't get it Francis.

Years ago the profiling debate brought the problem of racial profiling to national attention.

It led to the resignation of the state's top police official in NJ, and has done the same thing now in South Carolina.

Now it is time for the state government of South Carolina like other state governments to address and rewrite regulations to forbid police officers from singling out drivers because of their race or ethnicity.

Now it is also time for the state government of South Carolina like other states to address and rewrite regulations to forbid police officers from using tasers when tasing is unnecessary for a simple infraction of the law - Not driving with a seat belt.

The new phenomenon of being "tasered while black" is connected in many ways to the automobile.

As Thomas J. Sugrue wrote in his article, Driving While Black: The Car and Race Relations in Modern America, The phenomenon of being pulled over for "driving while black" highlights the connections between the history of the automobile and the history of African Americans. He noted, from its earliest days, the automobile symbolized mobility and freedom for blacks--but at the same time also reinforced their status as unfree. For African Americans in the twentieth century, cars became a powerful symbol of "making it," of economic success.

For blacks, as well as for whites, cars had real practical value--as a means of getting to work, of travelling, of visiting family and friends. But cars had other, deeper meanings for many African Americans. Perhaps most importantly, they helped blacks to escape the insults of Jim Crow.

I guess this young lady is quite aware that Jim Crow is alive and well in many parts of the south.

It's to bad many blacks want to deny these facts. I'm glad you don't

Great Post!


fromwembley said...

Good post because it illustrates how unreasonable and paranoid blacks really are.

Blacks commit crimes in the United States. Some blacks are arrested and some of those blacks are convicted. It's that simple.

There is no White conspiracy against blacks in America. If there was one we would have long ago eliminated all of you blacks.

As for blacks and the police, I wish the police were more forceful in their dealings with blacks. That blacks feel so free to sass the police on a regular basis is too bad. Believe it or not blacks, the laws in the US - and their consequences - apply to you, too.

Anonymous said...

I think that too many African Americans are crying "Racism". Are African Americans now above the law? Is there any justification for stopping a black driver? Should officers stop making stops all together at night? They can't see the color of the driver's skin, don't want to be accused of being a racist!!Rediculous! And let's touch on the mentally ill. Should they be allowed to shoot and stab officers and innocent bystanders because they are mentally ill? I am an officer in a predominately white area,obviously the majority of my contacts (99.9%) are white ppl. Am I targeting them?

Anonymous said...

I thing the cop was being patient with her. However there have been many tazer incidents lately, many of them involving Caucasians as victims. Look at this videos:

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