Walter Scott

Deja Vu with a View

It has happened again: another white police officer shooting an unarmed black man under deeply questionable circumstances.  These occurrences happen so frequently, they’re almost predictable.

However, the most recent police shooting (or, at least, the most recent one that is garnering national attention) has even some of the most ardent and loyal supporters of police decrying the law enforcement officer’s side of the story.  This would not be the case were it not for the video of the actual shooting, which surfaced yesterday via The New York Times.

The video is chilling to watch.

The North Charleston, S.C. police department, upon seeing the video, almost immediately fired Michael Slager, the officer who fired eight bullets at Walter Scott as Scott ran away from him.  Slager was also immediately charged with murder once the video showed what had transpired.

But there are still so many questions that need to be answered, among them:

  • Was Slager’s police report about the incident (that took place several days before the video surfaced) completely at odds with the events that are shown in the video?  Is that an explanation for the uncharacteristic haste with which he was charged?
  • What is the object that Slager picked up and subsequently dropped close to Scott?  Was this the stun gun that the officer claimed that Scott was reaching for?  Why did Slager retrieve this object before attempting to come to Scott’s aid or summoning additional help?
  • Why does Slager’s action – retrieving and relocating that object – appear to be so automatic?  Is this an indication of just how commonplace this sort of behavior is when officers in North Charleston are unaware that they are being filmed?
  • Why do the additional police reports filed by other officers who were next on the scene align so closely with Slager’s account of the events?  Was there collusion that was part of the cover-up?

And perhaps the biggest question:

  • What role did race place in all of this?

North Charleston is less than 10 miles from the Charleston slave market, one of the main points of entry to the United States for the slave trade; it’s often referred to as the “capital of the slave trade.”  There are those in South Carolina (as well as elsewhere in the South) who still don’t like to talk openly about slavery and its horrific and persistent after-effects.  If slavery is mentioned at all, it’s referred to as “that unpleasantness” or some other euphemism masquerading as gentility.  This kind of paranym, more sugary than sweet tea, is deeply embedded within the culture of the South.

As events over the next weeks and months progress, it will be revealing to see how this community, other cities, and the nation as a whole respond.  Will this be the shooting that finally moves the understanding of systemic racism forward?

Poor Donald’s Fragile Ego

On ABC’s This Week yesterday, George Will took Mitt Romney to task for his association with Donald Trump and his unflagging devotion to birtherism.  In the process, Will managed to call Trump out not only for his lack of value to Romney but also for his abiding ignorance:

“I do not understand the cost benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefit — what voter is going to vote for him because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics.”

Donald’s ego strength must be as flimsy as his hair souffle, because he immediately took to Twitter in an attempt to denigrate George Will:

And then there’s this one, conflating George Will with Rosie O’Donnell (Trump’s other obsession):

He just doesn’t give up:

If George Will is so obviously third-rate, why did you invite him to Mar-a-Lago?

Trump apparently doesn’t realize how desperate he appears if he has nothing better to do with his time than to get into Twitter wars with his betters.

Doesn’t he have a supposed empire to run?  Doesn’t one of those gardens at Mar-a-Lago need weeding? Isn’t there a toilet somewhere that needs gold-leafing?

"The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously."
"Government is the means by which all the people, acting together, do for themselves, those things in which they cannot do one by one. That is the great principle of government. The things that government must do has changes as human society has changed. But that principle remains the same."
"It was once said that the moral test of Government is how that Government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

- Hubert H. Humphrey, May 27, 1911-Jan. 13, 1978


NAACP: Equal Equals Equal

In a somewhat surprising move, the NAACP passed a historic resolution endorsing marriage equality.

President and CEO Benjamin Jealous made the following statement:

“Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law. The NAACP’s support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people.”

Although the endorsement carries no specific legislative weight, the significance of the largest and arguably best known civil rights organization in the nation making such an endorsement can’t be ignored, particularly since there has been such disparity in polling numbers between the black community and the community at large when asked about marriage equality.

Opposition among blacks is often attributed to black churches.  The text of the NAACP’s resolution addresses that opposition in a somewhat roundabout way:

“The NAACP Constitution affirmatively states our objective to ensure the ‘political, educational, social and economic equality’ of all people. Therefore, the NAACP has opposed and will continue to oppose any national, state, local policy or legislative initiative that seeks to codify discrimination or hatred into the law or to remove the Constitutional rights of LGBT citizens. We support marriage equality consistent with equal protection under the law provided under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Further, we strongly affirm the religious freedoms of all people as protected by the First Amendment.”

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