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Jacob Blake leaning into his vehicle before being shot. (Photo: Daily News)
Authors note: This article was originally intended for publication in early September, but life intervened. The topic is still relevant even if it is not a timely as intended.
Double standards are common and the “good old boys” have always received special treatment in our society. This is especially true of law enforcement. Frequently citizens have had to hit the streets to demand some level of justice from the system. Driving drunk was poorly enforced until Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) demanded tougher enforcement. Domestic abuse was largely ignored until women demanded change. If you were white, a crony, or prominent in the community your misdeeds were swept under the rug.
The excessive use of force by police is more of the same. Excessive use of force continues despite the the ongoing protests. The system, rather than requiring appropriate police accountability and enforcing justice, rushes to protect their own.
None of this is about “supporting” or not supporting the police. It I not about “law and order” vs. “anarchism.” It is about police behaving in a proper, professional manner. It is about and citizens expecting and RECEIVING due process of law from the police.
Excessive use of force by police is endemic in this country. The police by their actions, are proving that all the complaints being made by the Black Lives Matter protesters are justified. The case of Jacob Blake is only one more example.
Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man in Kenosha, Wisc., was shot SEVEN TIMES IN THE BACK at point blank range. Video of the incident clearly shows two officers, with drawn guns, following Blake as he WALKS around his car and attempts to enter the driver’s side. Officer Rusten Sheskey, shoots him seven times. There are two other officers on the scene. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, using police dispatch recordings, says “less than 3 minutes passed between when Kenosha police arrived and when Jacob Blake was shot.”
THREE MINUTES! Three minutes is not enough time to investigate the alleged domestic incident that led to the police being called. Three minutes is insufficient time to assess the situation much less defuse tensions or seek non-lethal solutions. But it is enough time to shoot someone.
This is not the way police should act. It is not what should be tolerated in a free or just society. There is no justification for shooting a person for resisting arrest – if that was what Jacob Blake was doing. There is no justification for shooting someone unless there is an imminent danger of bodily harm to other people or the police. This was clearly not the case. There was no reason for these officers to draw their weapons much less shoot a man SEVEN TIMES. Watch the video and see this for yourself.
There is no justification for shooting a suspect SEVEN times. This was obviously SHOOTING TO KILL and not to subdue or arrest. This shooting was clearly an unjustified use of lethal force. There was NO danger to the offices or others. There were three officers on the scene. They should have been able to make an arrest without shooting.
But there are also more outrages connected with this incident. This tragedy has been compounded by the killing of two Black Lives Matter protesters and the wounding of another by a domestic terrorist, Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year old white man from Illinois. He is allegedly a right wing militia member who came to Kenosha to “protect property.” He was part of a self-appointed gang of vigilantes on the streets of Kenosha during the protests. So in addition to the police violence, there is violence – and threats of violence – from armed civilian vigilantes. It is outrageous that armed vigilantes are allowed to roam freely in public. This can only add to the tensions and problems.
Showing up at a protest with weapons is a threat to public safety and should be stopped by police. Bringing weapons to a protest is intended to threaten and intimidate other people. It is not a statement about a political issue. It is not freedom of speech. There is no 2nd amendment right to threaten people with guns. It is the crime of assault and should be dealt with by police like the crimes of vandalism and looting.
But the police in Kenosha not only condoned the armed vigilantes they THANKED them for being there! There is video of Kenosha County sheriffs deputies (in an armored vehicle) speaking with and giving bottled water to the the vigilantes. You can clearly hear a deputy saying over the vehicle loudspeaker, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.”
An additional outrage is the police failure to arrest Rittenhouse after he shot three people! Again there is video from the scene. Rittenhouse is running down the street after shooting the first victim. Several of the protesters are attempting to stop and disarm him. He is seen on the ground and shoots two men trying to take his assault rifle. He then walks down the street toward police vehicles with his hand in the air. You can hear people yelling that he just shot people. He stops in front of a police car and you can here an officer saying through the vehicle loud speaker for him to get off the road. Rittenhouse was arrested the next day in Illinois (some reports say he turned himself in to police).
The double standard could not be more blatant. An unarmed black man entering his car is shot seven times in the back. A white armed vigilante who has just shot three people is not even questioned. The shooter was allowed to leave the scene when people were shouting to the police that he was the shooter. To add insult to injury Jacob Blake, with a severed spinal cord and paralyzed from the waist down, was handcuffed to his hospital bed.
This is the way it has been for Black people for over 400 years in this country. It is not hard to understand why there is anger and people in the streets demanding change. It is not hard to understand how that anger can move beyond peaceful protest to vandalism, arson and looting. What is hard to understand is how so many people can be so blind to the injustices.
Change must come. Some people always resist needed change out of ignorance, intolerance, greed, or racism. Some self-serving politicians will use violence, racism, and hate to divide people with phony “law and order” slogans. But to paraphrase President Kennedy’s famous statement. “those who would make peaceful revolution (or change) impossible will make violent revolution (or change) inevitable.”
Violence is not the answer whether it is committed by police, angry citizens protesting police violence, or hate filled vigilantes. We must all work together to build a culture of tolerance, peace, and JUSTICE because there can be no law and order without justice.