Those Other Lives That Matter…

Some people get very tired of Black Lives Matter. Well, okay. For those folks: Here’s some white people who got murdered by the police.

Tony Timpa, schizophrenic, depressed, in August, 2016, called 911 for assistance, police arrived, begged for his life thirty times. Officers handcuffed him behind his back, tied his ankles, laid him face down, sat on him, died of asphyxiation, Officers then laughed and made jokes as he died. No officers charged. Police department fought like a tiger for three years to keep the body-cam record from becoming public.

Magdied Sanchez, deaf, developmentally disabled man, in September, 2017, in Oklahoma. Shot by police officers because he wouldn’t comply with demands… being deaf and all. Onlookers shouted out that he was deaf and couldn’t understand. Shot to death anyway. D.A. cleared the officers, saying that deafness was irrelevant. “You don’t need to hear to understand what these officers are saying to you.” Apparently, because deaf disabled people are psychic or something.

Earlier in Oklahoma, unarmed suicidal man shot to death by police. Charges were laid on that one.

David Shaver, murdered in a hotel hallway in Mesa, Arizona, while on vacation. There’s Youtube footage of his murder. Look it up. It’s skin crawling sadism. The guy is crying and begging for his life. The officer walked, left the force, got a nice big settlement, claimed PTSD and got disability. The killing was captured on camera, but as with other cases, the police fought like tigers to keep that footage from going public. In fact, and this is horrific, the police exacted a promise from Shaver’s wife that she would not speak publicly about what she witnessed on the footage… And then they played his sadistic murder for her. Really, look it up on Youtube if you dare. Watch it, and then think about the living hell they put Shaver’s wife through.

Tony Romaguolono, shot on his front porch, in front of his family, in 2000 in Toronto.

Developmentally disabled man shot and killed by officer in Costco, from thirty feet away. Look it up.

Duncan Lemp, 2020, twenty one year old, Maryland man, at home, sleeping in his bed, shot and killed by police officer firing outside his house. His girlfriend was also shot but survived. Lemp was a right winger, and possibly nutty. But like Breanna Taylor, this was a ‘no knock’ warrant situation.

Deven Guilford, 17 years old, shot seven times by a Michigan cop. Whole thing started because Guilford flashed his hi beams at the officer, whose SUV lights were blinding him. That pointless bit of authority resulted in escalation and execution. Maybe he was a stupid kid, but the officer that stopped him was a grown man. The officer walked.

Kelly Thomas, street person with a mental age of nine years old. Beaten to death by police.

David Kassick, unarmed motorist, laying on the ground, laying face down, shot twice in the back by a police officer. Officer had tased him twice. Shot him because he wouldn’t or couldn’t obey commands and show his hands while being electrocuted.  I’m not sure, he was screaming in agony. so maybe he wasn’t paying enough attention what with all the voltage running through him. You can see the murder on youtube, if you want.  I watched it. I don’t want to watch it again.

I’m not going to provide links to this stuff, you can look it up for yourself. There’s lots more that you can look up.

There’s the woman who got shot in her own home, because she left her door ajar, and she didn’t hear the cop.

Let’s not even mention Justine Diamond, pretty blonde Australian, who called 911, and got shot by the trigger happy cop that attended.

You know what? This is the tip of the iceberg. I tried to track down one of these cases, not being sure of the name. So I just inputted what I thought were some specific search terms. I got an avalanche. It went on and on, and it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. There’s a lot of it.

Now, look, I get it. Policing is a tough job, and it’s risky. It’s like the 16th most dangerous profession out there, after Fishermen, Loggers, Cab Drivers and whatnot. I get that it’s serious.

And if you look up these cases, you can argue it’s not outright cut and dried. Kassick couldn’t seem to show his hands while he was laying face down and getting tasered, Sanchez was having an episode and had a stick, Guilford being seventeen and a typical teenager got into a fight with the cop, Lemp was a bit of a right wing freak. I get all that.

But so what? Being a seventeen year old A-hole shouldn’t be a death sentence. Hell if that was the case, I’d be in the grave three times over before I turned twenty. I can think of a few times where I’m surprised now that cop just didn’t pull out his gun and shoot me. And a couple of times where he pulled out his gun but didn’t pull the trigger. But I was seventeen, and not different from any other seventeen year old. That’s how it is at that age – it doesn’t deserve a death sentence.

Being deaf, or autistic, or a little bit drunk or stupid, or putting obnoxious right wing memes on facebook shouldn’t be a death sentence. I’m not persuaded that any of these deaths were inevitable. They were mishandled, and the officers either bungled left themselves no option, or they just went to the bad option.

But in the vast majority of these cases, the police officers walked. Sometimes the Prosecutors or the fellow Police were practically falling all over themselves in their haste to clear their little buddies. And in fact, what you get mostly, is every single time, the system lines up behind the officers.

That’s a consistent thing in these cases – the police and prosecutors closing ranks. They’re supposed to have integrity. But you kind of start to wonder. Is this really justice and fairness, or is it a cosy relationship and mutual protection. Particularly in the states, the District Attorneys and the police aren’t quite arms length, they work together, they depend on each other. There’s a relationship. I’m not sure that every District Attorney is so rigorous that he’ll risk his career and reputation going after a cop who ‘made a mistake.’

I’m not persuaded that Officers, especially in the United States, don’t cover for each other, don’t give the benefit of the doubt, don’t keep their mouths shut, don’t look the other way, or maybe just not do the investigation as thoroughly.

I’m sure that many, maybe even most officers, who end up in a lethal situation are justified, and end up in a situation where there’s no way out. But not all of them. Not all of them by a long shot.

I know for some people supporting the police is damned near a reflex. And maybe they genuinely deserve support.

But there are signs that some things are very very wrong.

For instance, half of the people killed by police are mentally ill or disabled in some way. Often, these people or their family or friends call 911 looking for help. We’re talking schizophrenic, depressive, deaf, autistic, sometimes just having a crisis. Or with cognitive or behavioural, mental or physical deficits or issues which prevent them from obeying or complying with police directives – directives that are often contradictory, shocking, screamed, disorienting and give little or no time to comply, directives given to people while they’re being tased, or drunk, or simply in a situation where they don’t have the ability or time to cope.

Seriously, if half the people being killed year after year are vulnerable persons, then there’s a real goddamned problem which urgently needs to be addressed, and making concerned faces, while your thumb is up your ass, does nothing whatsoever. I’m not really interested in hearing sheepish bleating about ‘we need more pro-active training bullshit’ while they’re rolling corpses off a conveyor belt, people whose crimes were being schizophrenic, autistic, deaf, etc.

No matter how much someone wants to defend the cops, for me, I can’t get past that statistic. That’s like a giant flashing neon sign saying “Things are not right!

I don’t think cops strap on their gun in the morning hoping to shoot or kill someone. But that’s not the point. The point is that it happens, and it shouldn’t. The point is that there’s something wrong.

I don’t think that there’s any question but that there’s racism. You ask black people, Hispanics, native Americans, it’s definitely there. Every black person I’ve ever met from the United States has stories about the police, and when it’s that overwhelming, it stops being anecdotal. You can’t massage that crap away with statistical sleight of hand. Aboriginal people in Canada, they have their own stories.

But there’s more than that. Maybe it goes down to the core.

Over in England, they have Sir Robert Peel’s Nine Principles of Policing. Look it up. It’s interesting. Because the basic concept is that policing is consensual, that police have to be part of and work within the community, and that without the approval of that community, police cannot function. It’s about conflict resolution and de-escalation.

In America, there’s a very different philosophy. It’s about control at every point. Every form of resistance, physical, emotional, attitude, even imaginary resistance, must be immediately met with immediate escalation to overwhelming force. Absolute control, absolute obedience. An officer isn’t safe unless they’re in complete and total control, and they’ll kill to obtain it, to keep it, to apply it.

They will at the very least put lives at risk. You hear insane things. There’s the case of a pregnant woman who got tased four times because she was mouthy at a traffic stop. There’s another case of a pregnant woman stopped for not wearing a seat belt, got manhandled out of the car thrown to the ground hard and handcuffed. You can search those out if you want. But you read about this and you think ‘How the hell does it get out of hand like that?’

Listen, if during the course of your normal duties, you allow a routine matter to escalate to the point of beating the living shit out of an obviously pregnant woman… your quest to keep control means that you are out of control.

I’m just saying.

But this is what happens, when you have to be totally in control of every moment, and your response is to escalate to nuclear proportions. I think that’s a bad philosophy of policing. I think that’s a bad doctrine. And I think that gets people killed just for answering the door. I think it leads to systemic brutality. I don’t know whether it leads to racism, but whether it does or not, racism shows up and the mix is toxic.

I think every single person needs to be concerned about that. They need to be aware.

And here’s an interesting thing. There’s so many people who just can’t stand Black Lives Matter. They go ‘All lives matter!

Okay.

But you know what I notice about most of those people (not all of them, but most of them) yelling ‘All lives matter!

They’re not screaming about all these white people murdered by police. Well, so much for ‘All Lives Matter.’ Turns out what they’re really saying is that ‘No Lives Matter!’ I didn’t see them screaming or demonstrating for David Shaver, or standing up for Tony Timpa, or enraged by Magdied Sanchez, or Deven Guildford. Crickets. It’s total crickets.

What the hell people? Listen, if ‘All Lives Matter’ just means that you’re going ‘It’s okay the police shoot people, sometimes it’s tragic, but the deaf guy had it coming, or the autistic guy was asking for it, or the guy who called 911 needed to be controlled, so too bad, so sad…’ Then there’s something goddamned wrong.

Because the truth is that you, me and everyone else has a duty to stand up – for truth, for justice, for decency. Making a concerned face after watching David Shaver get gunned down doesn’t cut it. We have a duty, and we are not fulfilling that duty.

And okay, maybe it’s fair. You can’t fight every battle, you can’t front every cause, you gotta pick your fights. People have lives to lead. Nobody can crusade full time. I got that.

But you know what?

Black Live Matter is standing up for David Shaver, and Deven Guildford and all the rest. Sure, it’s for ‘black lives’ but what they’re standing up against is racism, is police brutality, is police murder. And their work, their dedication, their crusade is going to save the life of the next David Shaver, because it won’t matter what his skin colour will be. They are standing up. They’re doing it.

What are the ‘All Lives Matter’ folk doing? They’re not fighting to save the life of the next David Shaver. They’re not fighting to change things, to make it better. Maybe if they had been, maybe if they’d done their duty, we’d all done our duty, Black Lives Matter wouldn’t have needed to exist. Maybe if we’d all done our duty, both George Floyd and David Shaver would be alive, because police would act differently, and people that needed help would actually get help.

So Black Lives Matter? God bless them. Because they’re fighting for all of us. They’re fighting a fight that we should have fought, for them and for ourselves and everyone. So give them some respect.

And if you got a problem with them? Well, you either go out and make the world better. Or sit down and shut up while other people do the job for you.

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