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Why Killer Cops Go Free

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair


Introduction to Why Killer Cops Go Free

On Wednesday, I watched Senator Tim Scott’s pitiful presentation of the Republican’s predictably weak answer to the murders of black men and women by the police. Can you imagine hanging out with Trump, McConnell, and Lindsay Graham? How Scott has to swallow his pride as they say dumb ignorant racist things? Senator Scott, like the television black pundits and guests, are seen as compatible with the interests of the networks’ advertisers. Like them, Scott is being promoted as a star. Many of the on-air black commentators are Baldwin clones, like Elvis imitators, who are attempting to appeal to the conscience of white Americans. They try to out eloquence each other instead of presenting facts. They lack Baldwin’s theatrical flair and depth. They are hemmed in by their networks’ salesmen. Whenever I become frustrated with the lack of a variety of black opinions in the media, I vent to my friend, the journalistic workhorse Richard Prince. He cited Don Lemon’s show as a sign of progress.

On June 10, 2020, Lemon said that if he said what he really wanted to say on CNN he couldn’t pay his mortgage. Don Lemon does the best he can, but most of those who referee and comment on race are white moderators and their guests, who anchor shows that take up hours of the day, which is why the truth can never be told on a media that lacks diversity.Even those who remain are in danger of being bought out or fired. If they speak up they’re in danger of receiving the Roland Martin treatment. The CEOs at CNN and Comcast, Jeff Zucker, and MSNBC’s Brian L. Roberts’ are responsible for the muting of Don Lemon and others. Zucker didn’t renew the contract of a pundit. Why? Because he talked about white supremacy too much. Both Zucker, Roberts, and their salesmen count on white supremacist cash to buy their advertisers’ products. Joy Reid has defied the requirement that the network tokens don’t come on too strong. Is that why they haven’t given her the show that was moderated by Chris Matthews? Ari Melber loves black people and loves rap. Why doesn’t he demand that she have that hour? Both CNN and MSNBC crowd their weekends with black, brown and yellow commentators, the journalistic equivalent of being placed at the back of the bus.

Lemon can’t say that the American police are a terrorist entity whose job is to hobble the advancement of blacks through intimidation, harassment and murder.Death squads backed up by a racist criminal justice system. A few bad apples my eye. Corruption and racism are widespread. It’s bad enough that criminal banks have cost black homeowners billions by dumping junk mortgages on them when they were eligible for conventional loans, but the police grab hundreds of millions by sticking up drug dealers,and pimps– a Marshall Plan benefitting whites based on revenue from the black underground economy. They can at least leave behind a couple of bucks so that we might invest in community projects, which is how other ethnic groups funneled money from the underground economy. They support each other no matter how murderous their fellow officers might be, black or white. What does it tell you about the lack of morality among its personnel when Atlanta police would support a sick depraved individual who would kick a dying man after shooting him in the back! They’re conducting a “sick out” and CNN is worried about their morale. You can imagine the morale among those bodies in the funeral home where Rayshard Brooks is being prepared for burial.

They retaliate against whistleblowers like Ramsey Orta, who photographed Eric Garner’s murder, or officer Adrian Schoolcraft who recorded a Brooklyn captain’s instructions that the police fill their quotas by using racial profiling and arbitrary harassment through Stop and Frisk. In retaliation, the notorious NYPD, which Baldwin called the most racist department in the world, sought to dig up dirt on Schoolcraft’s father and sister. When Orta arrived at Rikers Island prison, the guards taunted him, “Not so tough without your camera.” They put rat poison in his food, and arrested his mother to get him to plea bargain.

Most of those who have commented about the murder of black men by police have been women and men from other ethnic groups–mostly white males–, another indication that a segregated media will never be able to tell America’s story. In a fox-guarding-the-chicken-coop moment, CNN hired former police Commissioner Bill Bratton, one of the architects of Stop and Frisk, to deliver pro-police speeches. When he sought to bring Stop and Frisk to Oakland, he was run out of town.

Traditionally black men are onlookers as others discuss their fate. I might be able to find space for my opinions in CounterPunch and the San Francisco Chronicle because a Latinx journalist has influence there, but my other outlets are to be found abroad. Since March, I’ve been published in Haaretz, Liberation, and El Pais, which asked me to comment on the current crisis in America. Following the first footnotes is an English translation of the June 5th El Pais article, “Why Killer Cops Go Free.”

Why Killer Cops Go Free

The reaction to the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis policeman, follows a historic pattern.The Minneapolis police department lied about the circumstances that led to the murder. The victim’s character was impugned. The victim’s family hired a private pathologist, the famed Michael Baden, to do an autopsy of Floyd because, in the past, official medical examiners have lied in order to protect the police. The family released Michael Baden’s findings on Monday, June 2, which showed that the George Floyd had died of asphyxiation inflicted by the four officers. Their examiner, unlike the state’s medical examiner, concluded that George Floyd was murdered. Also, on June 1, it was reported that the neck restraint, had been used in the past against blacks disproportionately by the Minneapolis police. Minnesota was a Klan stronghold in the 1920s.

For his part, the prosecutor declared that the murderer did not commit a criminal act even before evidence was examined. The police union backed the murderer. The police unions in the United States often have more power than the civilian leadership in American cities and sometimes threaten the civilian leadership. When David Dinkins, a black man, was mayor of New York, the police staged a riot against the mayor.

The F.B.I. has been called into investigate Floyd’s murder as though this would guarantee a just outcome for Mr. Floyd’s family. This Department of Justice is headed by Attorney General William Barr, a monarchist, who said, recently, that those communities that don’t respect the police shouldn’t receive protection. He countermanded the requests of Department of Justice lawyers that Daniel Pantaleo, the policeman who murdered Eric Garner, who also died from a choke hold, be charged with civil rights violations.

On May 30, when Barr finally made a statement, he blamed the violence on left wing extremists, ignoring the fact that Minnesota officials said that white nationalists, whom the president regards as “good people,” had a hand in stirring up trouble. One white group, called “The Boogaloo Boys,” was among the 20 percent of the violence prone who came from out of town. Their aim is to foment a second Civil War. Another far right group present was the accelerationists:

“The demographics of a largely white, young, and destructive group fit more with a movement known as accelerationists than Black Lives Matter. The accelerationists, if you have never heard the term, are an extreme subset of white nationalism whose goal is to bring about chaos and destruction.”

Neither of these groups has been declared a terrorist organization.

President Trump, who has given his approval to police brutality, suggested that demonstrators might be shot, which, he said later, he didn’t mean, or that he was misinterpreted. On June 1st he boasted that if the states can’t deal with violence he’ll send in the army. Experts say that this would be unconstitutional.

The white nationalist majority on the Supreme Court, like the Attorney General, has given immunity to police who kill blacks.

The response from the media is also predictable. They routinely explain these murders are committed by a “few bad apples,” among the police forces, a notion refuted by a study conducted by the Plain View Project which examined the posts made by thousands of police on social media. They found that the posts represented “troubling conduct in a database that is replete with racist imagery and memes, and in some cases long, vitriolic exchanges involving multiple officers.” Members of the San Francisco police department were also exposed as posting troubling posts:

“…text messages in which a trio of San Francisco Police Department officers referred to minorities as ‘barbarians,’ ‘cockroaches’ and other slurs should trigger an even larger review of past criminal cases for signs of racial bias, according to the city’s public defender.”

In our country, the police, who have been infiltrated by Nazis and Klansmen, are above the law which is why the police in my city are permitted to continue to defy federal mandates that they reform. Clearly, the police departments in the United States need to be De-Nazified and De-Ku Kluxified.

The American media are fifty years behind the South in terms of diversity, so that those who George Floyd’s story from the murder and its aftermath haven’t a clue about how black males live. I get profiled, racially, every day. I have even been placed under surveillance and stopped by the campus police at the University of California where I taught for thirty-five years.

The handful of blacks, who are viewed as the least offensive to white audiences, entertainers, athletes, academics, and theocrats, attempted to educate those whom James Baldwin referred to as “The Chorus of Innocents,” about the abuse of blacks by the police. What Baldwin acolytes failed to mention is that by the time Baldwin published his novel, Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone (1968), he was done with attempting to redeem people and turned on his liberal sponsors. Most of those who were invited to comment on the murder of George Floyd were white men and black and white women, plus some people of color, who haven’t the slightest idea of what it means to be a black man in the United States. The media view them as being less confrontational than black men.

The media, which has endorsed the rioters in Hong Kong, condemned the riots that have occurred in the United States in the wake of Mr. Floyd’s murder. Riots are worthless and only serve to improve the president’s poll numbers. Those who commit violence during demonstrations in my city, Oakland, California, are white kids who come from the suburbs. When the media cover riots they emphasize black looters, when many of the looters are white.During the riots that accompanied the acquittal of the police who beat Rodney King, the mayor of San Francisco, a former policeman, chided white rioters for not being as restrained as blacks, yet when the media covers such disturbances, they can only see black.

Predictably, the media, following the instructions of their billionaire owners, doted over every injury to the police during the riots, but gave little coverage to the abuse by the police of demonstrators in New York and, on Sunday in Atlanta and elsewhere.

Unfortunately, their concern about the safety of the police wasn’t reciprocated. A black CNN reporter and crew were arrested in Atlanta. One policeman could be seen firing rubber bullets at a TV crew. After all, Trump told his followers that the media, especially CNN, are enemies of the people. Moreover, the media didn’t comment on the over 1000 civilians who were murdered last year by the police. They were black, Latino and Native American, your typical victim of police brutality because they’re still being punished for resisting the invasion. The media have ignored the rampant rape of Native American women by white men.

It took The New York Times on May 31, to show that the police weren’t innocent and in fact exhibited the kind of aggression that proved the point of the demonstrations. Police brutality.

“Videos showed police officers in recent nights using batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked. The footage, which has been shared widely online, highlighted the very complaints over police behavior that have drawn protests in at least 75 cities across the United States.”

Former Vice President Biden was wrong when he said that the majority of Americans condemn the actions of the police. The police feel that the majority of white Americans have given them the mandate to do whatever they wish to minorities. They’re right. The goal of armed white men from the 1600s settler communities to now has been to protect “the virtuous white family,” especially white women, the safest group in the country. This is why Donald Trump received 53% of votes from white women. Clinton beat Trump by only 7% among white college educated white women.White women chose race over gender. He won their vote when he threatened that Mexican rapists were streaming across the border.

Finally, even if the four policemen who murdered Mr. Floyd are convicted by a Minneapolis jury, their lawyers can always appeal to an all-white suburban jury. In the black experience, all-white juries, rank with bloodhounds and nooses.

Ishmael Reed pays tribute to the forgotten hero of the 1921 Tulsa Riots, A.J. Smitherman, in the audiobook “Malcolm and Me.”

Printed with permission of the author.

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Ishmael Reed is the author of The Complete Muhammad Ali.

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