Monday, April 13, 2015

Another victim, more blame

As you probably know, a 50 year old black man, Walter Scott, was shot in the back last week by a South Carolina policeman. Like most black victims of police violence, many people are seeking ways to blame him for his own death. In Mr. Scott's case, the cry is that if only he hadn't run from his killer, he wouldn't have been shot in the back.

This is wrong. It's wrong for any number of moral, social and humanitarian reasons. But rather than take the time spelling the reasons out here, the link below is to an excellent article explaining why, far more articulately than I ever could. The whole thing is worth a couple of minutes of your time.

Walter Scott is Not on Trial
The judicial system could have easily dealt with any misdeed Scott is accused of — failure to pay child support, failure to present proper documentation for a car he was driving, resisting arrest, fleeing — and none of those offenses, if he were found guilty of any or all, would have carried the death sentence.
Unfortunately, police officers encounter lawbreakers on a regular basis. Unfortunately, some resist arrest. Some flee. These are simply occupational conditions of being an officer — an admittedly tough job that few of us would sign up to do. But none of those offenses grant a license to gun a man down.
It is tragic to somehow try to falsely equate what appear to be bad decisions made by Scott and those made by the officer who killed him. There is no moral equivalency between running and killing, and anyone who argues this obdurate absurdity reveals a deficiency in their own humanity. Death is not the appropriate punishment for disobedience. Being entrusted with power does not shield imprudent use of power. And one of the saddest and most frustrating features of our current debate about police use of force, in communities of color in particular, is the degree to which justice itself has been absorbed into the ideological struggle in this country.
Exactly. Read the whole thing.

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