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Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence

Just as there is no moral equivalence of a rapist and the rape victim, there is none between the police and Blacks. It is nowhere near a 50/50 equivalence of blame between the police and Blacks, though it is not surprising that there may be some Black pastors or some in the NAACP who will equally tell police and Blacks to tone down the rhetoric, or worse tell only Blacks to do so. It is not a school ground situation where a principal may tell two boys who are fighting to just shake hands and make peace.

Yes, there is finger-pointing and it is distinctly clear thereof that the origin and thereby the solution to police problems is with the police themselves, given that the very origin of policing in the U.S. was slave patrols, to the current extensive documentation of the problems to this very moment. This also applies in a way to the toxic historical and current relationship between police and Hispanic and poor whites, but we need to stay focused today on what is going on in the nation in regard to Blacks.

It is not the rhetoric that simply kills people, as Houston officials claim, but the circumstances. Also, when Houston officers refer to “police lives” mattering and the ideal that all “lives matter,” that is not the current practice nor the history in society. When the Harris County (Houston) DA says “It is not anything we can tolerate” about a deputy killed, that is obvious, though they have obviously been tolerating the killing of people of color disproportionately. Another official said “cops don’t deserve this at all,” but you have not heard him say that Blacks don’t deserve being killed. Moreover, the president of a deputy organization there pointed out public sentiment against police. If that is the case, he should ask why.

The police still expect that their story line is the one to go on, that they are to be believed, though their lying is so second-nature that there is what they themselves refer to “testilying” in court, of all things. Lying from officials got us into Vietnam and the millions killed then and over a million in the Middle East recently.

Prior to being recorded as they are now, police false accounts were to be believed and white juries have been notorious for believing them. Police now blame those recording for the killing of a tiny number of theirs while saying nothing of the thousands they have killed intentionally and their lies about it all. A favorite pastime of police is arresting those who record them. “Coffee with a Cop” was cancelled in a city when a cop drew a gun on someone who simply was recording him, with no attendant crime scene, etc., otherwise. Thus they are blaming the messenger, including the media in order to cow the latter into submission, but that is unnecessary because the coverage of one police killed is much more extensive (and thus police more valued) than the many Blacks killed by police. Numbers of police killed, by the way, are deceiving in that the majority die in vehicle accidents, etc., not by direct shootings of police, which when it does occur is more likely to be by white supremacist types. Policing in fact is safer than about 10 other occupations. Once while I was driving in Houston I had to stop and tap hard on the window of a police cruiser to wake up the officer to ask for directions.

Not long ago Harris County (Houston) was called “the death machine” because of the high proportion of their sending black, brown and poor white bodies to the execution chamber, which Texas still does disproportionately than other states.   In the daytime you can see how Houston schools treat such children, and in the nighttime you can see how police treat them such adults, the school-to-prison pipeline in action.

Just how little black lives matter was seen in Ohio when a Black was pulled over the other day simply for making “direct eye contact” with an officer. A Black was shot in the back while fleeing a police officer, who lied about it. A 12 year old holding a play gun was killed within two seconds, and police lied about it. A baby was killed by the police when they bust into a house. The examples of Black lives not mattering in comparison with White lives and the subsequent lying are countless.

It is not just Black lives that have not mattered much to police. The reason drones are used in the Middle East is to kill “suspects” and other innocents including many children who are valued less than American lives. Likewise Israeli lives are valued more than Palestinian “vermin.”

All this bloodlust is not going to be tempered with body cameras on police or more black and brown skin police and more female officers, since these latter folks often act more brutally against their own, to prove their police creds. Police culture will not change on its own without a very extensive resolution of many circumstances, not the least of which are the caustic socioeconomic circumstance of those who are Black and Hispanic (likewise schools will not become any better without such changes also). The frustrations in the U.S. are not (or have not been so far) found in Europe, hence no killings to speak of by police of citizens there nor of police there, proportionately. In a 24 day period this year here police killed more than police did in England and Wales in the past 24 years.

Police are not about to concede defeat in this war as they call it between them and Blacks. If anything they will exert a great show of force for a time, as they did after two police were killed in New York several months ago. They will hunker down, seeking more public support for them than for BlackLivesMatter, and the public will perceive moral equivalency. Since this can’t go on forever, the greater reality of Blacks killed will resurface, and subside again when another officer may be killed, and the cycle will continue.

Whatever happens, it should be clear that the narrative the police put out is largely false. The disbelief of it is now seen around the country in the long honking against police traffic stops. Cynicism is well deserved. Similar examples are shown with the CIA’s death squads, etc,; the NSA; the FBI with their COINTELPRO, etc.; and the Pentagon, etc., who have simply been lying, in addition to the police. This is the past and now. They are guilty of deception and worse until proven innocent, not the other way around, given their past. That is not conjecture.

The extensive coverage of police funeral parades is obvious. Just as obvious is the nightly parading of black and brown skins in orange inmate jumpsuit mug shots. Not paraded are the arrests (there are none to speak of) of white collar criminals for their more deadly acts against the black and brown skinned and poor whites. How many banksters have gone to prison or been executed for their crimes causing death and destruction? What Blacks and Hispanics do is in no way equivalent to what banksters, the CIA, police, etc. do and have done.

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Jose Martinez is a university professor.

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