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North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory and the state’s republican led legislature had a very different way to address the police shootings of unarmed African-American men happening in our state and around the country. The most recent shooting took place in Charlotte just a few days ago. There are conflicting accounts of what happened but here are the basics. Keith Lamont Scott was sitting in his car waiting for his son to get out of school. A Charlotte police officer arrived on the scene to serve a warrant to another man who had no connection to Keith Scott at all. At some point Keith exits his car and a few seconds later the officer shot and killed Keith as his family and neighbors looked on in horror. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered but our governor Pat McCrory and the republican led legislature passed a bill last month that will further inflame the already tense relationship between African Americans and police. And the really sad part about the bill is there was no need for it at all. McCrory is up for reelection and his race became a lot tighter than he expected. To help turn out the republican base he crafted a number of bills just to get his supporters to turn out and vote for him in November.
A month ago they announced, passed, and signed into law a bill that prohibits the release of police body cam and dash cam video to the public. In order to see any of the video from police dash or body cams it has to first be approved by the governor or adjudicated by a judge. The bill was written to give the governor total discretion over this and there’s no way for a citizen or a journalist to demand a viewing or release of this footage. So Governor McCrory is perfectly fine with police brutality against African-Americans and police killing unarmed African-Americans, he just wants to keep it private. That’s his answer to this problem. That bill is a huge middle finger to the entire African American community and the governor along with his fellow republicans in the state legislature couldn’t care less.
To me it seems as if these guys pine for the days of Jim Crow and have passed a lot of legislation that gives credence to this theory. They want African Americans to suffer in silence while our rights are being trampled over daily. This new law also allows white people to ignore these horrible situations of police brutality, unjust murder, and misconduct perpetrated against African Americans. All they see is the angry protest and violence that follows. Without proper context and video evidence of the incident they may look at the community’s reaction and see it as unreasonable. Of course that was the intention McCrory and NC republican legislators had in mind when they drafted the bill. We’re supposed to ignore the violence and dehumanization when it’s coming from police, but everyone gets to pay attention to the protest that follows not even acknowledging that it was a response to an unjust shooting and one more life of an African American needlessly taken. Governor McCrory has shown us his character (or lack thereof) throughout his term as governor. He has shown the African American community what he really thinks of us through the bills he signs, the actions he takes, and the constituents he chooses to listen to. He let the extreme right-wing of the state’s legislature turn him into a callous unsympathetic alt-right cliche. I’m not sure why they even bother wasting money on body cams in my state when the public can’t even view the footage. The body cams weren’t going to end these wrongful deaths but they were supposed to bring a sense of accountability so the community could start to build trust with law enforcement.
So I ask myself What is our governor doing with these videos? Maybe McCrory and his fellow republican lawmakers collect these videos to show them when they have movie night at the governor’s mansion… eating popcorn and laughing at African Americans getting stopped by police for no reason, getting stripped searched on the side of a highway as cars slow down to witness the indignity, watching a man get chocked to death by police on a sidewalk while pleading for his life telling them over and over that he can not breath. Watching an 8 year old African American child playing alone in a park get shot by police before he could even see what was coming. Watching an unarmed African American teenager walking away from police then getting shot in the back. Then that same officer walks over to the teen’s lifeless body and decides to unload the rest of his clip into the already dead teen as the young man’s body heaved and convulsed after each shot hit him. Or maybe they are watching the one of the 13 year old African American girl who got thrown to the ground and manhandled like a rag doll before the officer puts his knee and his full weight into her back while pushing her face into the dirt while she screamed and begged for her mother, all for the crime of attending a pool party in an all white neighborhood thrown by a classmate. I bet Governor McCrory and those far right extremist he tries so hard to impress would get a huge laugh at all of that kind of stuff. Putting those new body cameras to good use.
If anyone is curious why I despise Fox News and everything they represent, the video clip below is a perfect example that explains why. You have 4 people pretending to have an intelligent debate on terrorism and policing in the wake of the recent terrorist attack in France, but if you listen to the overall theme of this phony debate you’ll see that it’s really another opportunity for Fox to make their viewers afraid of black and brown people. They try to make racism sound reasonable, to desensitize us all from that sick feeling we get when we realize we’re taking part in or doing something or saying something that we know is wrong. When we lock our car doors when we see a young black man approaching thinking he’s a criminal who might rob me. When we see a black mother and her kids in the grocery store with a cart full of food and think she’s probably paying with food stamps. When we see a Muslim man boarding our flight and hope that he was stopped for extra screening. Fox News and their guests are constantly telling their viewers that it’s not only ok to make racist assumptions, but those racist assumptions are most likely true. This ignorant moronic woman suggest that skin tone is an indicator of criminal behavior, or as she put it an indicator of who’s a “bad guy”. The man beside her takes this even further and connects the terrorist attack in France to the way policing is done in New York. He suggest that targeting black and Latino men, ignoring their rights as Americans, and policing ethnic neighborhoods with military style police armed with military style weapons will somehow prevent terrorism and make us all safer. Then another ignorant panelist adds something very telling. She says people like her will not be targeted so in her mind it makes it all ok. This was the only truthful utterance in this pathetic racist discussion. Everyone on that panel knows that their race would exclude them from the dangers and dehumanization of racial stereotyping and racial profiling. Even the African American female panelist would be excluded due to her gender.
This video encapsulates everything that’s wrong with Fox in 4 short minutes. After watching it a few times, I feel it’s necessary to challenge or break down some of the ridiculousness and speak directly to each problematic statement:
1. Militarizing the police or making them carry larger or more powerful weapons would not have prevented 9/11. Making police in France carry larger weapons would not have prevented the attack there. The police officer who died in France had a gun. Giving him 10 more guns wouldn’t have changed a damn thing.
2. Stop and Frisk in New York had absolutely nothing to do with the decrease in crime there. Every study that has been conducted to answer that question has shown that targeting people based on race is a waste of police time and resources and it has a negative effect on the relationship between minority communities and police. Stop and Frisk was an unconstitutional failure that should never be repeated anywhere.
3. The male panelist said he never felt like police looked at him as “the enemy”. Of course they didn’t because his race wasn’t targeted. That’s why it’s called racial profiling. Stop and Frisk made NYPD look at blacks and Latino’s as “the enemy”. NYPD officers were told that if they assume everyone they stopped potentially had a concealed weapon, that would make the encounter legal. So black and latino men weren’t looked at as law abiding citizens anymore, under Stop and Frisk they were all looked at as potential criminals.
4. NO ONE IN THE UNITED STATES IS BEING HUNTED BY ISIS. That ludicrous assertion needs no debunking or rebuttal from me.
5. The best way to be safe is arming everyone with guns. This is probably the most irresponsible piece of the Fox News ideology. First they convince their viewers that young black and brown males are dangerous, deserves to be targeted by police, and are most likely criminals; then after they are convinced of this they tell them all to go out and buy guns to protect themselves from the black and brown men who are out to get them. This is the kind of reporting that leads to unarmed men of color being shot and killed because the shooter perceived them as a threat, only later realizing that they posed no threat at all. Crime continues to drop in this country but when polled most Americans believe crime is at an all time high. That misconception is mostly due to media who use fear to sell products. Unfortunately that misconception is also costing lives.
6. If a terrorist sees a heavily armed police officer they might decide to call off their planned attack. This kind of thinking is almost laughable. The truth is if a terrorist is determined to attack Americans and take lives, there really isn’t a lot we can do to prevent this. Human’s aren’t perfect and neither is our government and law enforcement. For every 10 attacks that they prevent, there’s always going to be 1 or 2 that gets by them. That’s why I believe looking at the reasons that lead someone to become a terrorist and trying to address those issues in a realistic rational way would be much more effective than waging wars and stockpiling weapons and passing concealed carry laws that encourages citizens to be suspicious of those who do not look like them, and adopt the role of a vigil anti justice crusader.
7. The NYPD being exemplary in blending in with the citizenry and becoming part of the population without being the enemy? This statement is only true if you’re a white New Yorker which makes up about 33% of the city’s population. For the rest of the non white citizens this statement is not true, and even more so for the black citizens who make up 25% of the population. Choking an unarmed man to death on a sidewalk, forcing a man to strip naked while people on the street watch, or anally raping a man with a plunger is not what I would call an exemplary police force. But this panel at Fox if fine with all of that just as long as their white privilege protects them from it.
At the end of this video clip the panel talks about the bravery of those who worked for the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. I’m in total agreement with them on that, but “brave” is a word that becomes meaningless when it comes out of a Fox News anchor’s mouth. There is no bravery in ignoring the suffering of those who aren’t a part of your perceived “good guy” skin tone or race, and there’s certainly nothing brave about profiting from manufactured fear. Fox News and those who subscribe to their ideology are cowards. Racist predictable cowards. Charlie Hebdo’s cutting edge commentary that spared no one’s sacred cow is the antithesis of Fox News and their crusade against African American culture and the minority community.
Here’s a link to an older post that also points out Fox for their racist ideology. ttp://sociallyurban.com/video/how-fox-news-views-race/.
Are you asking what the hell is #pointergate? Well here’s the answer. A local news channel in Minneapolis (KSTP) aired one of the most egregiously racist news stories I’ve seen from a mainstream news network in a long time. Two young African American community organizing volunteers were out registering people to vote. Both volunteers were working for a very well respected organization named “Neighborhoods Organizing For Change”. While out doing this work they run into the city’s mayor Betsy Hodges who was up for reelection. They spoke with the mayor and then asked to take a picture with her. The video below is a KSTP news report of what occurred during the community volunteers encounter with the mayor. It’s hard to believe that this is a real news story and not a parody of a news story. Warning: This should make your blood boil and stomach turn no matter what race or political affiliation you have.
*There’s a second video at the end of this blog with the volunteers talking about their work in the community and why it’s important to them.
Completely INSANE! It’s stories like this that makes me, as an African-American male, extremely cynical about where this country is heading. It seems like everything no matter how small or insignificant gets interpreted as criminal behavior when you’re an African-American man. This story reveals one of the main reasons African Americans are distrustful of law enforcement and local news. If a black man isn’t smiling in a photo, they’ll describe his expression as menacing. If a black man is pointing or giving the peace sign in a photo, they’ll say he’s throwing gang signs. If a black man wears jogging pants and a hooded sweatshirt while going for a run in his neighborhood, he’s a thug casing houses to rob. If a black man complies with an officers orders too fast or eagerly, he’s obviously reaching for a gun. If a black man questions an officer about why he’s being harassed or targeted, he’s arrested or shot for non compliance or labeled combative. A cell phone in the hands of a black man are constantly mistaken as a weapon by law enforcement. Young black males exhibiting normal teenage rebellion of authority will get himself arrested and labeled a felon for the rest of his life, while the same exact behavior by white teenage males are considered youthful indiscretions that rarely lead to an arrest or a lifelong label stripping him of his rights as a citizen and limiting his chances of becoming a successful productive member of society.
Events such as this exposes the inequality that has fractured this country into two very different Americas. There’s one America where you’re assumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Where you’re given the benefit of the doubt when contradictions arise. Where you’re treated with respect by law enforcement. Where a mistake or a temporary lack of judgement does not define who you are. Where poverty isn’t seen as a character flaw. And then there’s another America where a lifetime of honesty still leads people to question your word. Where 2nd chances are rarely given. Where anyone who needs help or assistance from their government is looked at as undeserving or lazy, while others who benifit from government assistance are looked at as honest citizens who are being hurt due to a bad economy. Where unarmed men and young adults can be murdered without cause while their killer is never held accountable, and in some cases, treated as heroes in conservative media. Where pointing out or discussing racism of any kind gets you labeled racist. Where an ethnic sounding name is enough to negatively effect your job search possibilities and get your resume tossed in the trash before even considering your qualifications. Where police openly target you and overly scrutinize your behavior strictly based on your race and you’re powerless to stop it. An America where your life and self-worth isn’t valued or respected by the people who are in power. An America where a petty theft or any criminal act no matter how small can retroactively justify the taking of your life with the approval of many conservatives and conservative media alike.
After the civil rights movement America seemed to be bridging the divide between those two very different Americas. Then Ronald Reagan became president and ever since then there’s been a concerted effort to destroy the progress that our county worked so hard to achieve. President Clinton entering office slowed the decline but did little to address or acknowledge the growing divide. Then came Fox News and the rest is history. The election of Barack Obama seemed to bring out the absolute worst in conservative media. They convinced a large portion of the country that it’s ok to hold racist views and it’s ok to believe racial stereotypes. The popularity of Fox News and Rush Limbaugh
are huge indicators that this divide will continue to grow and lead the country into some very rough times ahead. I hate to end any blog without showing a glimmer of hope, or giving my readers something positive to hold on to, but sadly I don’t see any hope with this issue. If it were just a problem of awareness, writing blogs like this would make me feel like I’m doing my part to help solve things… but it’s not about awareness. Media highlighting stories like this are everywhere. Especially on social media sites. So the information and verifiable truth is out there. The real problem is people who aren’t willing to change because they benifit from the inequality. That’s a character issue that can only be solved in the hearts of each and every American citizen. Until then “pointergate”, Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, John Crawford, Levar Jones, Eric Garner, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Oscar Grant, etc will continue to occur.
*UPDATE: A Socially Urban reader sent me this suggestion. If you’re outraged about this pointergate racial news story call the station and let them know. Tell them you want reporter Jay Kolls and the producers who put this on air to issue an apology and some kind of reprimand for Jay Kolls’ blatent lack of journalistic integrity. Here’s the phone number to KSTP – 612-588-6397.