Is Shooting Unarmed Black Men Now Considered ‘Law-And-Order’?

The disregard for black Americans could scarcely have been more visible: Betty Shelby, a police officer in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is back at work just days after a jury decided that her moment of fear justified the killing of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed motorist. For those who cried out for justice in this case, it seems that call will go unanswered.

When Donald Trump spent the 2016 campaign saying that he would be a “law-and-order candidate”, is this what he had in mind? When his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, says that the US Department of Justice “undermined the respect for our police and made, oftentimes, their job more difficult” through such things as consent decrees and investigations into the police violence that fills our television screens with its bloody aftermath on a nightly basis, can we credibly expect that those who abuse their power will be brought to task?

What does it mean to be “pro-law enforcement” in 2017?

It means less accountability. When Sessions announced that his Justice Department would be reviewing all consent decrees – the agreements that the federal government negotiates with police departments that have a history of brutality in an effort to reform them – he essentially took the work of policing the police off the table.

In a country where police officers are rarely charged with a crime after shooting an unarmed civilian – and even more rarely convicted of said crime – the possibility of removing any kind of federal oversight over police departments like the one in Ferguson, Missouri, once described as a “violent klepto-state”, should be frightening to us all.

But it should undoubtedly be more frightening to people of color, who have always borne the brunt of state violence in the United States. The history of this country is pockmarked by the overzealous policing of communities at the margins, and the reaction from those communities to brutality going unchallenged by our justice system. These communities can expect to find no relief from the Trump administration.

The first indication of this, of course, was his 2015 speech referring to Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers. All throughout the campaign, Trump made clear that he considered immigrants from Latin America a group only to be punished, not to be welcomed. This sense only deepened when, during his Joint Address to Congress, he announced an initiative called Voice: Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement. This program, now up and running and housed within the Department of Homeland Security, would list all of the crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in the United States.

In addition to (wrongly) linking immigration to criminality, it also drew comparisons to Nazi Germany, where crimes committed by Jewish Germans were publicized and dramatized in the pro-Nazi daily Der Sturmer. We need not have gone overseas to find such analogies; one needs to only look at deadly race riots in Elaine, Arkansas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, to find examples of media and government whipping people into a deadly hysteria.

The fear of such activities returning has only been heightened by the recent killings of Timothy Caughman in New York City and Richard Collins III in College Park, Maryland. In both instances, white supremacists allegedly committed these violent acts against black people without any provocation other than the color of their skin.

When you set up a political and ideological mainstream that sees people of color as populations of potential criminality, it is only a hop, skip and a jump from “Mexicans are rapists” and “knock the crap out of them” to taking the law into one’s own hands.

Everyone wants to be safe, and to walk their neighborhoods without fear. But that is not what Trump and Sessions are really after. That is clear by the fact that their justice agenda is centered around the agents of the state as opposed to the people that they have taken an oath – an oath whose hollowness is increasingly visible – to protect.

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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