Thank you, George Zimmerman. Thank you, Mike Brown, and Freddie Gray. Thank you, Marilyn Mosby, Barack Obama, Ta Nihisi Coates. Thanks, Charles Blow, and Al Sharpton, MSNBC, Sabrina Fulton, Lezlie McSpadden, and the Democratic National Committee. Thanks, Baltimore Police, Ferguson Police, and Bill DeBlasio. Thanks, Eric Holder. Thanks, Black Lives Matter. And thanks to you too, Michael Slager, Timothy Loehmann, and the other trigger-happy cops who made their fellow officers around the country vulnerable to accusations of racism and murder by your incompetence. Thanks to all of you and others, it is now impossible for police to do their jobs without fear of being demonized and destroyed if they are wrong, or sparking riots and violence if they are right.
Now what are we supposed to do?
A Charlotte, North Carolina police officer named Brentley Vinson, an African American, shot and killed Keith L. Scott, 43, after he posed an “imminent deadly threat” to police officers by refusing to drop the weapon he was carrying when ordered to do so. The shooting sparked night of rioting and violent confrontations between police and “protesters.”
According to police, officers were searching for a suspect with an outstanding warrant. Around 4:00 pm yesterday, police observed Keith Lamont Scott inside his car. (Scott was not the person being sought.) Scott exited the vehicle carrying a firearm, got back into his vehicle, and when officers began to approach his car, got back out of it, again carrying his handgun. Officers ordered him to drop it, and he did not. The officers fired their weapons at Scott, who was hit and fell. They immediately requested medial assistance and began performing CPR.
Following the pattern of the Ferguson and Freddie Gray incidents, unverified reports spread through social and broadcast media that the victim was a disabled man, holding only a book and no weapon. A woman claiming to be the victim’s daughter used Facebook Live to give her angry, emotional and quite possibly fanciful account of what was transpiring. About a hundred protesters arrived at the site of the shooting. #KeithLamontScott began to trend on Twitter.
A crowd began surrounding officers, and became increasingly hostile and aggressive. One police officer was injured attempting to calm the crowd, which began to block the street. Over all, twelve officers were hurt. By 8 p.m, police were reporting rioters damaging police vehicles and throwing objects at officers on the scene. One officer was badly injured when he was hit in the face with a rock. The rioting continued for several hours.
At 11 p.m., police ordered the crowd to disperse, which they refused to do. Police then launched tear gas grenades, as the rioters continued to throw projectiles at police and damage property. One group of rioters—don’t call people engaging in violence “protesters” or “demonstrators”; “criminals” is fair, however— gathered near Interstate 85, and began throwing rocks at cars. Motorists reported people throwing rocks off of overpasses onto the traffic below. Tractor trailers were stopped by the crowd and looted, with their contents strewn over the road. Rioters set fires using the material taken from the trucks. They shut down W.T. Harris Boulevard in both directions near Interstate 8, requiring police in riot gear to again use tear gas. Looters attacked a local Walmart.Note that none of this was driven by the crowd’s knowledge of actual facts, just inflammatory accounts by someone claiming to be a family member. On the videos, people chanting “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” can be heard…appropriate, since that was also a false account used to spark anger, accusations of racism and violent rioting. At this point, any police shooting of a black man, armed or unarmed, justified or not, is presumptively the result of police hatred of African Americans, and “systemic oppression.” Did I forget to thank Colin Kaepernick? Thank you, Colin Kaepernick! Thank you, NFL, for ratifying his fact-free indictment of the nation as racist.
I already thanked Barack Obama, didn’t I?
Today, a group of activist African-American religious leaders called THUG—I’m not making this up—- held a press conference contradicting police investigators, who said they found Scott’s gun, but not the book his daughter claimed he was carrying. The group has no basis to contradict the police, other than the fact that all police are racist murderers who carry out white society’s conspiracy against blacks. The group said it will take legal action against the city in the case and called on the black community to stage an economic boycott of white-run businesses in Charlotte, because when a black officer kills a black man who won’t drop his gun, it’s the fault of white businesses, or something.
“Since black lives do not matter for this city, then our black dollars should not matter,” said B. J. Murphy, another Charlotte activist. “We’re watching a modern-day lynching on social media, on television and it is affecting the psyche of black people. Everybody in Charlotte should be on notice that black people, today, we’re tired of this bull. We’re tired of being killed and nobody saying nothing. We’re tired of our political leaders going along to get along; they’re so weak, they don’t have no sympathy for our grief. And we want justice.” (This is called “helpful rhetoric.”)
“Round and round and round it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.” This is all a continuation of the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck and the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck it spawned. Instead of making an effort to stem the cultural and societal damage being wreaked by both, cynical politicians and race-hustlers—as well as cynical politicians who are race-hustlers—decided to exploit the episodes for persona gain and political power. Now I don’t think those train wrecks can be stopped, at least not before a large chuck of the nation is in chaos, and the healing time will be counted in decades, not months. And, of course, black communities will suffer most.
Good job, everybody.