Masai and the Iceberg of Impunity

Every report I’ve seen on the injustice suffered by Masai Ujiri in Oakland last June has talked about the tip and ignored the iceberg. That this could be so at this BLM moment is deeply worrying and shows that our problems go well beyond even systemic racism.

For those of you who don’t know, bodycam footage of a police officer twice shoving Toronto Raptors President Masai Ujiri –as Ujiri tried to make his way to the trophy presentation–exploded across the internet last week. The Alameda police department in Oakland has always had this bodycam footage. The Alameda police department had access to all of the very many witnesses that we see in this footage. E.g. The two Warrior employees that Masai walked past and were within feet of the incident. And while we are on the subject of the witnesses. Why has the hero of this story not been identified? I.e. The guy who jumped over the seats to impose himself between the officer and Ujiri and is pleading to the cop, “Please, please, please, please, please, please!”.

Let me allow us a single moment of levity. Whoever that guy was he’d obviously played years of basketball because his defensive stance to make sure the cop couldn’t get around him was impeccable. Anyhoo.

And what did this police department do with the evidence that they gathered and we’ve now seen? They backed the officer 100% and said they were considering charges against Ujiri. What did they say after this footage hit the internet? “We 100 percent stand by the original statement that Mr. Ujiri was the aggressor in this incident.”

Masai is very wealthy, very famous, hell he was sitting at a game with Obama a few days earlier, and the head of a multi-billion dollar enterprise. The officer in question on the other hand has a sordid past of frivolous lawsuits and a conviction for an insurance scam. And yet with all of the evidence, with the power imbalance going in Masai’s favor, with all of the personal credibility going in Masai’s favor, still the ‘Thin Blue Line’ refused to bend. Not to reality, not to common sense, not even to self-preservation. That is how sure they are of their impunity.

This Sheriff’s office has been charged in the past with rape and abusing children. Of running a crime laboratory. It has paid this officer $244,000 since the incident while he is on ‘disability’.

Systemic impunity is the point that everyone is missing. Wall Street given tens of trillions after blowing up the global economy and no one goes to jail. The illegal invasion of Iraq and the use of rendition and torture and no one goes to jail.

The most important point that is being missed is that if you cannot jail your elites and their bodyguards when they commit crimes you no longer have a civil society or civic responsibility. You are instead living within a criminal enterprise and the only thing that matters is that you “Get yours.” This is what the BLM movement has in common with every single one of us.

Be it tax evasion and political contributions or greenhouse gasses and fossil fuel subsidies. Our elites have turned our societies, our very air and water, into their own private bank machines. To top it all off they use our tax dollars to hire the people that then are used to protect the 1% and oppress the rest.

No one seems to get how very, very far we are from judicial control of our elites and civilian control over our police. We further have next to no democratic control over our politicians because we have a two party ‘Pepsi or Coke’ rigged system. The quintessential ‘Heads I win, Tails you lose” illusion of choice. What we have is a plutocracy. Where one dollar equals one vote and rights are bought not shared.

Many are only now finding out that you and the cops ain’t on the same side and impunity is their shield. Something they share with our elites, and our political class who cover for them. This Black Lives Matter movement and the power the streets have shown is incredibly important and we will need many more movements to link with them and soon. Time is doing terrible things and those we have left in charge these last 40 years do not have our interests at heart and are no better at self-preservation than the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

Injustice, impunity is thy name.