20 comments on “Oscar Grant: Random Thoughts

  1. Dre,

    For one, I don’t buy the taser argument one bit. Between the different weights, sizes, and shapes of the guns, I don’t see how anybody with even limited training could not make the distinction.

    Secondly, I agree that we all have racial prejudices. I took the “Dilemma” test and found that my scores were similar to general results as well. But this BART officer wasn’t simply responding to a spur of the moment event. He had time to process the situation, to withdraw his gun, point, and shoot. He knew what he was doing when he did it.

    Thirdly, I hate the self-destructive rioting that came out of this. But, I also agree with you in that rioting is the best way to make noise. Unfortunate, but true.

    Finally, the argument of “black on black violence” is weak because it dismisses the fact the criminals tend to engage in crimes in their area. More often than not, their area is populated by othe black people. It just works out that way. I’m not saying the pathology doesn’t exist. But I am saying that it only exists out of convenience of population. Black people are around other black people…therefore, black criminals have black victims.

  2. Where to start?

    The taser question: I looked at that in my own post. My thinking is, it’s unlikely to the point of absurdity that he was going for his taser.

    The riots: Media reports assumed that it was Black protesters rioting. However, video footage and the statements of the protesters themselves indicate that the rioters may have mainly been white ‘radicals’ from the ‘burbs. Does the thought of a bunch of white kids rampaging through Oakland destroying black businesses in order to protest the cold-blooded killing of a black man make you feel like rioting is still a legitimate form of protest?

    So-called “black on black” killings: I expect criminals to commit criminal acts. I don’t expect the people who are sworn to protect me from criminals to commit criminal acts. Which is worse, the wolf, or the shepherd who kills his own sheep? At any rate:

    Being concerned with police brutality and being concerned with criminal homicides of black youth are not mutually exclusive. In fact the two are intimately related. Poor black communities are in dire need of police protection, but they cannot rely on a police force that can’t (or won’t) discriminate between law-abiding black citizens and criminals. Mutual mistrust and animosity between black citizens and those who are sworn to protect them undoubtedly fosters an environment in which criminality thrives. Highlighting the seriousness of homicides in the black community doesn’t require minimizing or ignoring police brutality. If anything, it should be emphasized as a key factor in the homicide rate in black communities.

    Black police brutality: One thing I know as a black person is that some of the most anti-black people in the world are black themselves. The color of the officer using excessive force makes no difference.

    The “bad apple” theory: Incidents like this happen far too often in far too many places for it to be the result of a “few bad apples”. For every story that makes it into the news, there are a dozen more that don’t. This kind of senseless brutality is the product of a systemic lack of professionalism and accountability.

    Subconscious bias: That’s what training is for. If police training doesn’t explicitly address implicit bias, something is deeply wrong.

  3. Maybe I’m just an out of touch white guy, but I see things a little differently in this case. I guess that’s why I like this blog so much. When it comes to issues of race, I feel a little more comfortable and less ostracized in being the alternative viewpoint.

    At any rate, here’s my two cents:

    I’m not trying to defend the BART officer, but in the interest of giving the benefit of the doubt, it IS possible that this was all a tragic mistake. In the intensity of the moment, it’s easy to grab one weapon thinking that its another. When Grant was waving his hands, the possibility of intensifying an already intense situation increased dramatically. When cops are making arrests, they don’t stop to ascertain whether or not the person being subdued is a decent person, a family man, or a college graduate. In their adrenaline rush (all apart of being a human), safety and self-protection are the first instincts.

    I honestly don’t believe that a cop would pull out his service revolver and shoot somebody dead on purpose. If the video was taken from a surveillance camera in an isolated area, maybe the cold-blood murder rap would be more believable. But to kill somebody in view of hundreds of spectators is a stretch to me. The end results are still another innocent and young black man. No argument there. And a price should be paid for such carelessness. But I don’t see this as outright murder.

    This is simply a tragic case of Mr. Grant being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  4. I honestly don’t believe that a cop would pull out his service revolver and shoot somebody dead on purpose.

    He might if he was drunk, which is a possibility since it was new year’s eve, and no interview was conducted after the shooting, as procedure requires. I have no evidence to support that theory, but my intuition tells me that it’s probable that that’s what happened.

  5. J. Alex, there was nothing accidental about this shooting. The video clearly shows he was not resisting.

    Thank God for the viral age.

    Malik, I also read that whites were among the rioters in Oakland. But I question whether whites propogated the rioting or simply joined in. I suspect that watching blacks engage in the initial rioting gave whites a false sense of empowerment to join. None of the whites I know would have had enough intestinal fortitude to participate in a riot in a black neighborhood unless it was already going on. Still, that certainly would not excuse a white person participating in the further destruction of a black community. However seeing other blacks doing it would provide whites the motivation to get involved themselves…especially the extreme ideological types. It doesn’t make it right, but its like the ‘n-word’ debate. Some whites truly feel justified in saying that atrocious word when they hear blacks saying it. Likewise in this case, if it’s true that white people joined in the rioting, I think they felt justified because they were joining the fight along with blacks who already started the opposition. Again, it doesn’t make it right. Just understandable.

  6. Malik, I also read that whites were among the rioters in Oakland. But I question whether whites propogated the rioting or simply joined in.

    Watch the video at the link and judge for yourself.

  7. @ Cyn: A couple of things:

    (1) Cyn, I don’t believe the taser angle either. I was simply pointing out how it’s being introduced as a possibility.

    (2) I wasn’t trying to excuse the officer by referencing the Dilemma test. In fact, I would oppositely suggest that he needs to be punished for his role in the shooting. But at the same time, there is indeed a matter of psychology that must be addressed. The instinctive use of deadly force on an unarmed man stems – in my opinion – from the racist assumption of black guilt.

    (3) I don’t advocate rioting, but it sure is eye-opening.

    (4) The black-on-black phenomenon exists, even when it is only within the context of black criminals going after people within their community reach. But the question remains, what makes police violence against blacks more egregious than black criminal violence against blacks? Does it have anything to do with the violated police code of protection? I’m interested to hear what you think.

    @ J. Alex: “When it comes to issues of race, I feel a little more comfortable and less ostracized in being the alternative viewpoint.

    I try to make this blog as open to various ideas as possible. Please don’t hold back. The candidness of the conversation is what makes it all work.

    I will say that I’m like you in some respect: I like to give the benefit of the doubt. But there isn’t much room for speculation in this story. The video clearly shows that there was no need for a firearm to be used. Even using a taser in this case would have been excessive. If this was in fact an “accident”, it was a product of an officer withdrawing a weapon when the situation did not warrant it. Had there not been a video circulating, I may have believed that Grant was drunk, beligerent, and – thus – set himself up to get shot. But the video tells another story.

    @ Malik: Addressing a couple of points:

    (1) I agree that the taser speculation is a stretch. I suspect that apologists are reaching for any stories that can’t be challenged by the video evidence. Video evidence can’t prove accidental state of mind, so that’s what they’ll use as a defense. I don’t buy it at all.

    (2) I peeped the video you posted in your forum. All it showed me was that whites were involved in the protesting. I didn’t see whites actually engaged in the vandalism itself. That’s not to say they weren’t involved. I just didn’t see it. Meanwhile, the article I used from the San Fran Chronicle specifically cited a black girl involved in the demonstration. Ultimately, the rioting would have been more successful – “success” in this case meaning that more attention is actually given to the issue of police brutality – had it been done somewhere in the ‘burbs. White policy makers would focus their attention on problems like this if those issues landed in their backyards. But destroying storefronts in a black neighborhood defeats the purpose of organizing.

    (3) Like you, I never subscribed to the black on black violence issue. I agree that ‘shepards’ killing sheep is infinitely worse than ‘wolves’ killing sheep. Except, I don’t think that blacks people generally see black criminals as “wolves.” Instead, I think black criminals are simply seen as other sheep. Sheep of the criminalistic variety, but sheep nonetheless. In that light, sheep killing other sheep becomes more deplorable than if wolves were the culprit. That, then, raises another question of whether shepards killing sheep and sheep killing other sheep are equally reprehensible. Sorry for gettin’ all Old McDonald with this, but I think you get the point.

    @ Megan: “But I question whether whites propogated the rioting or simply joined in.

    Can you clarify this? The way I see it: joining in with the rioting is the same as propogating them. Based on the rest of your comments, it sounds like you meant that whites were joining in the riots, but not provoking them. Am I reading you correctly?

  8. I didn’t see whites actually engaged in the vandalism itself. That’s not to say they weren’t involved.

    Peep the hi-res version on YouTube. It was pretty clear to me.

  9. Ultimately, the rioting would have been more successful – “success” in this case meaning that more attention is actually given to the issue of police brutality – had it been done somewhere in the ‘burbs. White policy makers would focus their attention on problems like this if those issues landed in their backyards.

    Dude, I know you’re angry, but are you trying to incite a race war? Because you know that’s what would happen in that scenario, right?

  10. Dude, I know you’re angry, but are you trying to incite a race war?

    Ha! Of course not! In fact, contrary to all the smack I talk on my blog, I’m actually a pretty reserved person. This is more like a public service announcement. I’m telling the world, “I personally would never endorse rioting, but if it had to be done, here’s how I’d do it…”

    Still, I get your point. Taking my advice on rioting will likely make matters much worse before they get better.

    It’s just that demonstrations in their current form do nothing but make noise or – in extreme cases – destroy the communities of those already victimized. That’s the point most deserving of being underscored.

  11. Dre, these kind of killings are more deplorable than the so-called “black on black violence” because they are done by people who are SUPPOSED to be protecting us. Say what you want about how fear and adrenaline get the best of us all at times. Being a law enforcement officer requires you to rise above all that to enforce justice. Being afraid and excitable doesn’t give police an excuse to shoot people. Besides, if their nerves are so shot at the sight of scenes like this, maybe the officer in question doesn’t deserve to carry a gun in the first place.

  12. After googling “Tazer that looks like a gun”, it appears that there may be some credibility to this dumbass mistaking his gun for his tazer. You’d think the big wigs who control which tazers millions of cops are walking around w/ would choose one that couldn’t be mistaken for an actual gun, right? WoW.

    -n

  13. Dismiss black-on-black crime all you want, but the habit of self-hating violence on one another is a significant reason, on top of the obivious fear people generally have of black people who participate in criminal activities, why shootings like this occur. If we don’t have enough love and self-respect for ourselves, what makes you think some rent-a-cop will?

  14. Anon, you’re joking…right?

    “… the habit of self-hating violence on one another is a significant reason, on top of the obivious fear people generally have of black people who participate in criminal activities, why shootings like this occur.

    At best, this is partially true. There is indeed a certain element of fear and presumption typically applied to blacks. But it has nothing to do with so called ‘black on black’ violence. Instead, it has everything to do with pervasive bias and discrimination often found in the police department. The same kind of discimination that should never exist in a unit sworn to protect.

  15. No, I’m not joking. This isn’t a personal attack on Oscar Grant, since I don’t know him from the next person. But sometimes discrimination and prejudice is the difference between life and death. Go around treating everybody the same and above suspicion all you want. The next time you do so, you might be on the receiving end of a car jack or a shot to the chest from that same person you were trying to treat indiscriminately.

  16. If we don’t have enough love and self-respect for ourselves

    What do you mean “we” anonymous man? Why does a killer’s actions and behavior mean that anyone besides the killer has a problem?

  17. Go around treating everybody the same and above suspicion all you want. The next time you do so, you might be on the receiving end of a car jack or a shot to the chest from that same person you were trying to treat indiscriminately.

    Wha…?

    How did we get from discussing the killing of an unarmed, non-threatening, non-resistant person to the perceived dangers of political correctness?

    If you want to make blanketed assumptions about people because of actions committed by other folks of the same color, go right ahead. But in this particular instance, the officer was not forced to make a split second decision. He had time to process the situation; to assess the person being subdued; to determine the extent to which his personal safety was being jeopardized. This wasn’t some eye-blinking moment where the officer had no time to think.

    The video clearly shows that Grant was in no viable position to threaten a life; and certainly not to the point where he would’ve deserved a bullet.

  18. OK, so I’m not going to pay this anonymous guy any attention. He’s clearly on some other stuff. But nic, when you said “it appears that there may be some credibility to this dumbass mistaking his gun for his tazer.”, I’m wondering if this excuse will really fly. From the looks of them, tasers have a completely different shape and weight to them. Not knowing the difference is a lame excuse. On top of that, even if he truly did believe it was a taser, did the situation – that being a person lying facedown – require it?

  19. You won’t get an argument from me Miss KD. After reading that there was speculation that it was a tazer that he was attempting to use, I thought to look to see if there actually existed tazers that resemble guns (and of course, there are). You may have misunderstood my intentions? *Shrug*

    -n

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