Unethical Words And Actions Have Consequences Dept.: The Baltimore Shooting Spree

baltimore-police-attacks

Since the Freddie Gray incident, Baltimore’s murder and criminal violence rate has climbed to record-setting levels, with over a hundred shooting deaths in the city this year. The Charm City’s police reported that 28 people were shot, and 9 of them killed, over the Memorial Day weekend alone.

Speaking to CNN anonymously, a Baltimore police officer attributed the spike to police officers in his city no longer doing their job proactively. This wasn’t a slowdown, he said, just low-risk policing, and the criminals are taking full advantage.

This seems extremely likely, and I would expect that the same phenomenon will take hold in other city police forces unless national leadership takes steps to…oh, what am I talking about? That’s not going to happen.

President Obama and Eric Holder’s racialized Justice Department planted the seeds of this with their irresponsible response to the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown shootings, and those responses were modeled by a biased, unethical and politically ambitious state’s attorney in the Freddie Gray death. The war on police officers by African-American activists, Democrats and the Left was bound to have the result we are now seeing in Baltimore. Either the opportunistic pols, pundits and race-baiters wanted this, or they were too focused on gaining a political edge to foresee it. Now they are reaping what they have sown, and we should not allow them to deny accountability.

Why would any police officer engage in proactive policing when an unexpected turn of events, a resisting suspect or a single mistake in judgment under pressure will trigger protests and prejudging by mobs and the media, resulting in show trials ordered by cowardly prosecutors regardless of the evidence? It is a no-win situation for police, with personally, financially and professionally catastrophic consequences to an individual cop who ends up in the maw of one of these public lynchings. I expect that the next shoe in the process of dropping will be a sharp reduction in police recruits, except of the type that departments use at their peril.

There is no reason for any sane or intelligent individual to subject themselves to working conditions like this, where a disproportionate number of criminals and suspects he or she is going to encounter are African American, and any negative consequences to one of them under ambiguous circumstances will be attributed to racism, bias, homicidal tendencies or hate. We are going to end up with police forces made up entirely of insane or stupid cops.

CNN’s Carol Costello interviewed an African American community activist from Baltimore and asked the question I just did. His answer was a defiant “Because it’s their job!” Wrong. The job was not accepted with the risk of being thrown to the dogs by the Justice Department, state and local officials as an agreed-upon condition of employment. Police must be able to assume, as they once could, that the city, state and national leadership will support them and be reasonable regarding the occasional tragedies that the nature of the job will inevitably entail. Now they clearly cannot.

Had the pendulum swung too far to giving police the benefit of the doubt in every instance? Absolutely. Where the pendulum is swinging now, however, will result in urban chaos. That chaos, ironically, will fall most heavily on African American. Continue reading

The Brelo Acquittal: Once Again, No Just Cause For Protest

Brelo car

Nobody should doubt that there are too many instances of excessive police force, that racism must playsa factor in many of these episodes, and that prosecutors and juries give police special, and perhaps excessively generous,  consideration when cases of alleged abuse come to trial. The sheer numbers compel that concludion. However, the now routine presumption on the part of civil rights activists, much of the news media and Obama racially-biased Justice Department that every instance where an unarmed African American is killed by a police officer warrants indictment and conviction is as pernicious as racism itself, and threatens the rule of law as well as any semblance of peaceful race relations.

Every incident is not like the Walter Scott shooting in South Carolina, where the police officer’s actions were unequivocally homicidal, but the news media seems to blur the lines as much as it can. In the current controversy out of Cleveland, police officer Michael Brelo’s acquittal of murder charges was announced with headlines resembling  Slate’s “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots That Killed Unarmed Black Couple,” which makes it sound as if Brelo personally executed the Huxtables while they were taking a Sunday drive. “Cleveland Police Officer Acquitted for Firing 15 Shots out of 137 That Killed Two Mentally-Ill, Homeless Addicts Under The Influence of Drugs Who Fled A Lawful Police Stop And Were Credibly Believed to Have Discharged A Firearm” would have been lengthy, but also would have been fair rather than deceitful.

The acquittal came because there was no way to determine for certain that Brelo’s shots were the ones that killed the couple.  Nor were the Cleveland officers’ presumption that deadly force was necessary unreasonable. Police had been informed that shots had been fired from the car (they turned out to be backfires from the auto), and the driver  had certainly exhibited reckless conduct. Was it necessary for Brelo to jump up on the hood of the car after multiple shots had been fired into it by other officers (the chase involved over 60 police cars)?  Were more shots fired by all concerned than necessary? Maybe and almost certainly, but neither of those facts add up to guilt for the officer, or justification for another “Hand up, Don’t shoot!” protest. Officers didn’t know the occupants of the fleeing car were unarmed, and had reason to think they were armed. They didn’t know they were a “couple,” or African American, or mentally ill.

Never mind; African American protesters are demonstrating, protesting and getting arrested in Cleveland anyway. Continue reading

The AWOL Walter Fauntroy, Flawed Black Martyrs And The Duty Of Outrage

Walter Fauntroy, D.C. icon, civil rights hero, fugitive, coward, crook...but still a hero. Somehow.

Walter Fauntroy, D.C. icon, civil rights hero, fugitive, coward, crook…but still a hero. Somehow.

As I was composing this post in my head, I stumbled upon—and I mean that, because I normally avoid her columns like cheap Chinese food—Kathleen Parker’s latest column. Parker is the sort-of conservative, sort-of op-ed pundit who has mastered the art of compassionate equivocation, meaning that her opinions on public affairs usually consist of one long sigh. She was at it again here, except that the topic she was sighing about confounds me, he who does not shrink from assigning blame, almost as much as it does she who usually spreads blame so evenly that its ethical impact is nil.

Parker wrote…

At the same time that people avoid too-sensitive subjects, they seem to fear stating the obvious lest their thoughts be interpreted as an act of betrayal to “the group.” Politicians are the most risk-averse of all. Few are the Democratic women who will find (or express) fault with Clinton. It is the rare African American who finds fault with Obama. When Rawlings-Blake also said that she “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that,” her Democratic colleagues spoke only of her “poor choice of words.” Not poor thinking? Not lousy leadership? Republicans don’t get a pass. Heaven forbid they should call out someone who wants to inject biblical end-times into political debate.”

Ah, how it makes my chest fill with pride that I have flagged all three of the ethical breaches Parker mentions within the few daysHillary Clinton’s brazenly suspicious conduct and the disgraceful refusal of her cheering section to either acknowledge or question it…Rawlings-Blake’s “lousy leadership”… and Republicans who use religiosity as a prop. Parker being Parker, she had earlier used an example of missing outrage that sets my teeth on edge because, while correct, it calls to mind another area of missing outrage and societally-damaging martyrdom that I can’t quite figure out how to talk about.

Where is the outrage beyond the African American community about police brutality and the deaths of young black males? Where are members of Congress other than those belonging to the black caucus? My God, the list of those killed is staggering,” she writes, “yet this is not a new phenomenon. Baltimore’s Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered spinal injuries while in police custody and died, is but the most recent. Yet you see only the usual black activists speaking up.”

True. The missing paragraph, however,  is this: “Where are the African-American activists asking why so many young black men are constantly in positions that place them in conflict with the police? When protesters chant the names and carry photos of police victims like Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, yes, and Mike Brown, they are presenting in honored terms African-Americans who weren’t credits to their communities or examples for the next generation to emulate. Indeed this ritual sanctifies lives and backgrounds that are part of the same urban pathology as the police attitudes that killed them.”

Freddie Gray was only 25-years-old, and yet he already had a staggering 18 previous arrests since he turned 18-years-old. His mother was a heroin addict; he had no father in his life. Why was someone like this even out of jail, in a position to become yet another victim of police anger and contempt against the endless wave of young, irresponsible, law-defying young men who undermine the vitality of their own communities and the nation?

The fact that Gray’s death was undeniably the greater outrage shouldn’t allow the outrage of lives like his to be ignored. Black crime and police dysfunction are part of the same pathology. If only the Bill O’Reillys are going to ask the hard questions about black communities policing their young and changing their deadly culture—and are they really hard for O’Reilly, whose audience is inclined to look for ways to side with the police even when they commit murder?—then those questions and their equally hard answers, involving, among other things, avoidance of responsibility and accountability, can be and will be largely ignored.

This is part of the loyalty to “the group” phenomenon that cripples the African-American community and warps its values. It is especially powerful when prominent leaders, those African-Americans who should be leading the way away from self-destructive conduct and who have the power, visibility, and credibility to do so, demonstrate an atrocious lack of ethics themselves. Where are the black voices—those not belonging to black women he sexually assaulted, that is—condemning Bill Cosby? Or Al Sharpton? Charles Rangel?

Washington, D.C.’s overwhelmingly black population was conditioned to accept black leadership outrages by the late Marion Barry. I was not quite aware of the extent of this cultural purging of the ability to hold prominent African-Americans to ethical standards until I read a jaw-dropping Washington Post feature about the wife of local civil rights legend Walter E. Fauntroy, who helped Martin Luther King plan the 1963 March on Washington, and who served as the District’s congressional delegate for two decades. The tone of the article is enough to make a reader think he or she is going mad. The loving 80-year-old wife, Dorothy Fauntroy, speaks about her husband in glowing terms that nothing in the article suggests is inappropriate. Continue reading