There was a fascinating editorial in the Washington Post this morning, I thought. See if you agree. It read in part…
At point-blank range, a Fairfax County police officer a year ago fired one shot, killing an unarmed man standing inside his home. The man, John Geer, was distraught and had been drinking — his longtime girlfriend had moved out and called police when he threw her things into the front yard — but he held no hostages, brandished no weapons and, so far as we have learned, posed no serious threat either to police or to public order…Shot in the chest, he was left to bleed to death inside his doorway while police officers, remaining outside the house, did nothing for an hour. Five and a half hours after the shooting, his body remained sprawled on the floor where he died.Incredibly, the authorities in Northern Virginia — including Fairfax County police and state and federal prosecutors — have refused to furnish any explanation for this stupefying sequence of events last Aug. 29 in Springfield. They have stonewalled…The officer who fired the shot, who remains on the force with full pay, has not been identified.
The authorities conduct themselves as if the case presented insurmountable complexities. This strains credulity. It involved one shot, one gun, one shooter and one fatality. It took place in broad daylight, at mid-afternoon. It was witnessed at close range by at least two other police officers, as well as friends and neighbors of Mr. Geer. And still authorities refuse to act or discuss Mr. Geer’s death…Will no one take responsibility and make some decisions in the unexplained death of Mr. Geer?
Don’t you think it would have been helpful, not to mention responsible and ethical, for the Post to remind its readers of this case while it fully participated in the media-driven race-baiting and hysteria over the shooting of “unarmed black teen Michael Brown” in Ferguson, Missouri?
It is also interesting, given the fact that the Brown-Wilson case is still very much in the news and on the tips of accusatory pundits’ tongues, that the Post neglected to mention the irony embodied by the quite legitimate lament of its editorial now. Ferguson? What’s that got to do with Fairfax?
For Eric Holder works about a 20 minutes drive from Fairfax County. He has not had a solemn meeting with Geer’s grieving family. He has not announced a civil rights investigation of the shooting. The President has not made a point of expressing concern about the circumstances of John Geer’s demise. He didn’t send his representatives to Geer’s funeral. No hoards of reporters have descended on Fairfax, nor have there been marches, vigils, demonstrations and riots. Howard University, not far from Fairfax, has had protests in support of Brown, calling for “justice.” No similar demonstrations for Geer have occurred, at Howard or anywhere else.
MTV, the MTV VMA Awards, the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, and the Southern Poverty Law Center haven’t made public statements pronouncing Geer’s death as a racist “execution,” as they have regarding Brown’s death. Al Sharpton has not been sighted. MSNBC has never breathed Geer’s name. The mayor of Atlanta hasn’t declared on national television that “justice” means that the officer who shot Geer must be prosecuted. The Democratic Governor of Virginia, unlike the Democratic Governor of Missouri, hasn’t tried to bias the administration of justice by pre-judging the cop involved in his state’s shooting and calling for him to be tried. The news media, meanwhile, did not flood the airwaves and internet with photos of Geer cuddling kittens, looking angelic, or taken when he was twelve. In fact, it hardly published any photos of him at all. Geer’s grieving parents have not been interviewed by Anderson Cooper.
The Post’s editorial didn’t even mention what race Geer was. I had to look for photos of him online: none of the Post’s stories mentioned his race. He was white, of course. Because he was white, no one assumed that he was shot because the shooter was racist. Because of that, the story wasn’t national news. It was barely local news: I pay attention, and I missed this incident completely. No wonder some of the otherwise intelligent and fair commenters here, during the recent debates regarding Ferguson, challenged me and others to find any parallel example to Brown’s shooting involving a white victim. Of course, there are many. They just don’t get turned into race riots to gin up the Democratic base, and are happily ignored out of existence by gullible progressives who are dedicated to a world view where the police, and whites, or “white Hispanics” like George Zimmerman, are hunting African-Americans.
By any rational measure, the shooting of Geer appears worse than the Brown incident, based on the facts we know. There was no evidence that Geer was resisting arrest, or showed any aggression toward the officer. While Brown lay dead for hours, a major source of anger in the community, Geer lay bleeding to death for an hour, when he might have been saved, then was left dead for approximately as long as Brown was. The Ferguson agitators were incensed that the police took so long to identify the officer responsible or release any details about the shooting after a few days. The Fairfax police, which are a highly regarded organization in one of the richest communities in the nation, haven’t released the name of the officer or details of the shooting yet, and the event took place a year ago.
Both shooting victims reportedly had their hands raised in the air, except that in the case of Geer, nobody disputes it.
Don’t you think?
Here, then, are some suggested answers to the question posed in the headline above: Why haven’t you heard about the shooting of John Geer?
- Because he was white, so his death could not be used to magnify race tensions for political gain.
- Because raising the circumstances of Geer’s death would make the presumptions of race-baitors, race-hucksters and those who are dedicated to making Officer Wilson the next George Zimmerman as obviously premature, unreasonable, unfair and dishonest as they are.
- Because while excessive police violence is an important problem, focusing on both the Geer and Brown deaths would make that issue the topic of the national debate, not institutional racism, which is the most potent weapon for Democrats to use against Republicans…
- …and an election is coming.
- Because the news media is incompetent, biased, and corrupt to the core.
- Because the Geer story would distract from the agreed-upon narrative, that Mike Brown was shot by a racist cop.
- Because the presumption of racism has been a pervasive tactic of the defenders of President Obama for six years, so while a white cop killing an unarmed white man is a local story, when the dead man is black, it is a national story that validates that defense.
I’m sure there are other good answers. I’d be especially fascinated to hear the answers provided by the Post, or Holder, or Spike Lee, or Sharpton, or New York City Councilwoman Anastasia Robertson, who posted this on Facebook:
“No one can remember the last time an unarmed white person has been killed by police.”
Yes..why is that?
Might it be so Anastasia and others can get away with racist accusations and continue to mislead and inflame the low-information fools who vote for incompetent, divisive, racist hacks?
I gave some of my answers.
Facts: Washington Post 1,2; Daily Caller
15 thoughts on “A Question With Answers That Might Clarify The Ferguson Controversy: Why Haven’t You Heard About The Shooting Of John Geer?”
When I read your post, I was angry at the action of the police. I for one, am tired of law enforcement not being held accountable in a timely fashion for killing people. It especially galls me as it relates to black people because we are killed by the police at a significantly higher rate than our whit counterparts. This is why a single shooting in Ferguson so quickly captures the attention of the nation and politicians.
With that being said, the above article references two pieces of information that were not in your original post, and caused me to reserve judgement. The initial report was a domestic dispute where someone was armed. (they don’t say who) The second big piece was that the shooting victim barracaded himself in the house after being shot. If true, these facts change the narrative significantly. But I’m never one to reflexively take the word of police simply because they say it.
The media plays an important role in our political discourse-one that they’re failing at. This is unfortunate, unprofessional and does us all a disservice. But none of this changes the fact that the, (and I’ll call it “unjustified” even though we don’t really know yet) killing of a young white man at the hands of the police, and the failure to properly and timely investigate it is complete horsehit. It should be trumpeted, and something should be done about it. The difference as it ties to race, is that this sort of thing happens to black and brown people ALL THE TIME. We’ve complained about it for years, and still are not believed, told to reserve judgement and accused of playing (my favorite term, NOT) the race card.
So we can talk about the media, and even the role they attempt to play in influencing our politics rather than simply report the news. But none of it changes the racial facts as it relates to the police and the treatment and killings of minorities.
http://bit.ly/ZcNukz More information from local news. I can see why it never made national news. Do you think it would be any different if a black man had been shot under the exact same circumstances? I dout it…
Come on! You link to the early reports from a year ago. We now know that what occurred was..
Geer was standing in the doorway of his home in Springfield, speaking to an officer who had his service weapon drawn. Geer’s girlfriend and two daughters had fled the home. Geer was distraught, had thrown his girlfriend’s clothes out of the house and had been drinking, witnesses have told The Post, and there was a gun in his townhouse on Pebble Brook Court. But he did not have the gun on him, a fact which was clearly visible as he stood with his hands high on a door frame, dressed in shorts. As Geer stood speaking to the still unnamed officer, the officer fired one shot into Geer’s chest, witnesses told The Post. Geer staggered back into the house and closed the door.
An officer shot an unarmed man dead when he posed no threat and had his hands visible. There were multiple witnesses. You think it would have made no difference if this shooting victim had been black? Why, because he was in the doorway of his own home rather than in the street?
Uh,LESS information, not more. The Post knows more now that a year ago. With all due respect, that’s a pretty weak rebuttal. I can show you some pretty strange accounts of Lincoln’s shooting from April 15,1865 too.
There was a weapon in the house. He was shot outside the house, unarmed—the weapon was irrelevant to tyhe shooting. Nobody says he was armed. He also lay dead for the same amount of time Brown did.
“But none of it changes the racial facts as it relates to the police and the treatment and killings of minorities.”
How can you write that with a straight face? Is your meaning literally that if the Fairfax victim was black, it would have by definition been a racist shooting? Good Lord.
Now that I’ve re-read your post, I don’t understand why you chose to link this tragic story to what happened in Ferguson. It seems that you went out of your way to find an instance of a white person being killed by the police, and using it to further your narrative of race, as it relates to Ferguson. I’m disappointed Jack…..
UR, I don’t understand your reaction at all, not in the least. At least explain yourself. Why is the Fairfax case any less outrageous than the Brown shooting? Why are such similar circumstances used in one case to assume racial animus, when the same thing happens without race being a factor at all? What is it you think I’m missing?
And how does it seem that I “went out of my way” when I truthfully stated that I found it by simply reading my morning paper?
The Geer case is outrageous based on the behavior of the police AFTER the shooting. It’s been a year and we don’t have a resolution. I’m as outraged about this fact as anyone. I’ve stated before that I’m terribly suspicious of the police, and while acknowledging they have a tough job, feel that they lie. None of us know what happened, but I’m inclined to be suspicious of the police activities and story. With that being said, the way I read the story was that the cops were initially called because a distraught man who was armed, was involved in a domestic dispute. With domestics these days, someone is going to jail. (Usually the man) In my mind, both cases are awful, and the behavior of the police rightfully should be called into question. But where people clearly see, and are outraged by the police and the subsequent lack of activity, these same folks look upon Michael Brown as deserving of what he got. I see a disconnect there. Additionally, the police spoke with Geer for close to an hour. This was an entirely different situation than what happened in Ferguson, and other than both being dead at the hands of the police, I don’t see a link.
Now a case can be made that the police behavior is especially uncalled for in VA, given the fact that they were in communication with him. Perhaps the officers gun went off by accident. SAY SO THEN! Or maybe the officer felt that his life was in danger and he shot the poor bastard. Either way, the length of time without credible answers is the same degree of SHITTY for both families. But this happens to black families all the time, and is routinely given short shrift by those not in a minority group.
You asked why no national story and what role race played in the coverage of the two stories. (and I predict this story will make national news by weeks end. You’re a trend setter) A police activity in ones home with SWAT called in and numerous witnesses still hasn’t yielded a believable answer. A one on one altercation with a handful of witnesses (all being discredited) and little said by the police, and matching a pattern of such behavior is the difference. We’ve been here many times before with blacks. The stories are not the same Jack. But I do apologize if I was too harsh or misinterpreted any of your original post.
And in regards to going out of your way, I didn’t mean it in relation to finding the story, but in regards to the link to Ferguson. I think its a stretch. A far stretch…
Wow. Two unarmed men, shot by police, one white, in Fairfax, one black in Ferguson. In both cases, the police leave the body for five hours. In both cases, the police are slow to release details or take action regarding the officer. In the case of the black victim, there are riots and protests. In the case of the other, nothing, essentially, and a year has passed.
Explain to me how the connection to Ferguson is a “stretch.” I’m listening. It sure seems to me that you are denying the obvious because it’s impossible to reconcile the two.
If we’re talking about police behavior solely, both cases are awful. I think I made that point in my earlier post. As it relates to the length of time the body was left for dead, there are clear distinctions, and I truly am not pleased in either circumstance. But Geer was “barricaded” (news reports word) in his own home. Brown was left in the middle of the street for all to see. What’s worse in your mind? There is not a well documented history of police shooting unarmed white people. And, we’re arguing semantics as it relates to Geer being armed. A gun was found in close proximity to him, and given the fact he had spoken to the cops for close to an hour, I’m sure this came up. The police had clear confirmed knowledge that he was armed or had access to a weapon. In the Ferguson case they want us to believe that his size was his weapon. The Geer case unfolded in front of his neighbors and scores of police officers. In Ferguson we have a he said he said. I’m about to read your follow up post, thinking that you draw a distinction between the issue of race and the issue of police behavior?? If not, my take is police behavior of this sort is beyond believable regardless of the race of the victim, and we should be outraged by such conduct each and every time it happens. The flip side is that the rate of it happening is not anywhere close to proportional when race is included. This means that blacks and other minorities have a cop problem, enhanced by more than a few cops racist behavior.
No, UR, there is no question that at the time of the shooting, the police did NOT think he was armed or had access to a weapon…he wasn’t near a weapon. All the recent accounts make that beyond dispute. As for the body being left for hours, I think that’s tangential at best. Personally, they can use my body as a pinata after I’m dead—the issue is, should I be dead?
Both unarmed, both shot dead, by police. The number of other suspects shot, black or white, changes what happened in either case not one iota, and is irrelevant. If a white cop can shoot a white suspect who is unarmed, then we cannot assume that the reason a white cop shot a black unarmed suspect was racism, absent tangible evidence. And Geer, based on what we know, posed less of a threat to the shooting officer. He had not tussled with him; he was not charging him, he was not gigantic (which IS relevant, just as it would have been relevant if Brown were a 108 pound girl.)
Simply put: if one is worthy of protest and Presidential attention, so is the other. Or neither is.
And neither is.
UR: Both men were shot by a police officer while standing unarmed in front of him! That’s the link. Using the standoff with Geer to distinguish the two is like saying that Geer hadn’t stolen cigars, or wasn’t about to go to college! He posed no threat at that point (while Brown, in fact, may have posed a threat.) In terms of police misconduct, all that matters is the circumstances of the shooting itself.
You nailed it, Jack. Here’s another example: A 95-year-old Army veteran, tazed and shot (by a black officer, Craig Taylor) and killed … by bean bags! The family of John Wrana is suing the Park Forest IL PD, Craig (the only one facing charges), and four other officers for wrongful death.
“The suit repeats claims made by State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office that Taylor quickly fired five bean-bag shots in rapid succession into Wrana’s torso from six to eight feet away. Specifications for the “Super Sock” round used on Wrana state that the round travels about 190 miles per hour within 30 feet and that the rounds can be lethal at close range.
“Taylor, a 10-year police veteran and the only officer facing criminal charges, has pleaded not guilty….
“Police arrived at Victory Centre at about 8:45 p.m. on July 26, 2013, after he refused medical treatment for a urinary tract infection, according to the suit. The suit does not mention whether Wrana brandished a knife or cane, as Park Forest authorities have cited as a justification for their response.
“Wrana’s friends and family have long insisted that he suffered from arthritis and limited mobility, having to walk with a cane, and could not have posed a serious threat to the officers.
“Wrana wound up at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he died early the next morning, just a few days before his 96th birthday. An autopsy determined Wrana died from internal tears caused by the bean-bag rounds.”
They didn’t leave him on his floor to die a slow and probably painful death, but they did haul him off to the hospital in handcuffs.
BTW – The attorney who is representing Park Forest and the six officers s accused Wrana’s family of Monday morning quarterbacking, claiming that the family is not taking into account the danger the officers were in!
There was some coverage, some mention of the tragedy in local news but there was never any mention of the race of those involved, although it was obvious from the photos of the victim and the cop who shot him.
My bottom line is that you’re always going to have these godawful tragedies and I don’t really think race has as much to do with it as the fact that police personnel seem to be a little more trigger-happy and violent these days, but they are certainly facing a harsher, different world now than back when my father was walking a beat armed with a gun, a nightstick and a blackjack, each of which he only had to use once.
This story’s local, and I’m just now finding out about it a year later. It’s quite clear that in our mass media, it’s *white* lives which don’t matter.
Reminds me of the Dillon Taylor case, swept under the rug.