File this under “Things You Can’t Blame on Racism (no matter how hard you try)”:
Last month, the nation watched in shock and sadness as four Oakland police officers were gunned by Lovell Mixon, a fugitive parolee. According to a report from the New York Times, recently paroled Mixon was working as a pimp at the time the police confronted him. Rather than facing additional jail time (a possibility even more likely considering his DNA connection to the rape of a 12-year child), Mixon fired on the officers before being killed himself. Apparently, it really is hard out there for a pimp.
A few weeks later, close to 60 people marched and rallied in Oakland to protest the brutality of the police and to honor Lovelle Mixon, culminating in a vigil. I repeat: rather than show sympathy for officers who could have take some true scum off the streets, people were actually celebrating a child rapist pimp. I can not make this up.
I suppose I understand the motivation for this demonstration. Police in Oakland – and in general – are getting more notorious for their brutality by the day. Oakland, for instance, is still recovering from the brutal and cold-blooded murder of Oscar Grant at the hands of BART officers (granted, BART is not affilitated with the Oakland PD, but the incident still serves as a reminder of abuse of power). The paranoia and anger black people have with police is legitimate and grounded in reality. No argument there. Also, to Mixon’s credit (probably not the best word to use in this context, but let’s roll with it…): I understand the lack of employment opportunities he faced. While I’m in a very privileged position to be employed (crappy as my salary is), millions of Americans are languishingly dealing with unemployment and bleak economic outlooks. For people who have gone through the prison system, it is even worse.
However, I submit to you that Lovell Mixon is NOT a hero. He was a criminal. Making him a martry for the black cause is both irresponsible and defeats the legitimacy of any claims of racism and brutality at the hands of the police. For once in my life, I actually side with Mr. Bill O’Reilly (joining him on the panel is James “Uncle Ruckus” Harris, and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill):
To be sure, I understand where Dr. Hill is ultimately coming from. Subtexually, the protesters are ultimately issuing a referendum on the tainted legacies of corrupt and oppressive police departments nationwide, and the terror they inflict on people of color. I get that. Similarly, there is something to be said about a society who incarcerates convicts for the purpose of rehabilitation, but then provides little – if any – opportunity for said convict to actually improve his life. According to sources, Mixon made attempts to contact his parole officer, to no avail. But making this statement within the context of a funeral for a child raping, woman pimping, cop killer is bad news. Mr. O’Reilly put it best: off the wall antics like this will make people blind and deaf to the ultimate message being disseminated, not draw more attention to the issues at hand. I have made this same argument before.
Above all, I guess my biggest beef is with how certain people become the face of a movement. How is it that cop killers like Mixon or the knuckleheads like the Jena Six are lauded as heroes while the folks truly working for the betterment of our communities don’t receive so much as a “thank you”?
This is yet another unfortunate case of misplaced priorities.