There’s a popular meme going around social media depicting the difference between how black and white suspects are treated by police and the media.
Man, that’s harsh.
I’ll agree. There are definitely discrepancies in the way we treat black vs. white suspects, but is this fair? In the Freddie Gray death, we’re still waiting to understand what happened. Picked up without cause, thrown in the back of a van, then dead. Death while in custody of law enforcement, all without being charged. It stands in stark contrast to the assassination of a State Senator, Pastor, and the murder of members of a congregation (based on race as I described here).
Eric Garner, pictured in the meme saw very different treatment, which resulted in his death all before ever making it to the precinct. “I can’t breathe”. Those words adopted by a movement to make the point, twisted by police apologists to make a counter, but spoken in protest by the choking voice of an extinguished life.
“I can’t breathe”.
Let me help those that hadn’t seen the words, because seeing it is different. Your visual biases doesn’t kick in. Yes, you still know it’s a black man, but you don’t get to see the face:
Get away [garbled] for what? Every time you see me, you want to mess with me. I’m tired of it. It stops today. Why would you…? Everyone standing here will tell you I didn’t do nothing. I did not sell nothing. Because everytime you see me, you want to harass me. You want to stop me [garbled] Selling cigarettes. I’m minding my business, officer, I’m minding my business. Please just leave me alone. I told you the last time, please just leave me alone.
please please, don’t touch me.
Do not touch me. [garbled]
I can’t breathe.
I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe…
Those three words, then he was gone.
So I wonder what three words Dylan Roof had to say to — uh, get it his way:
In Shelby, the FBI handled Roof’s initial questioning, Ledford said. Shelby police’s lone conversation with the mass-murder suspect was about food. Earlier in the day, Roof had bought water and chips at a south Charlotte gas station. Now he was hungry. Police bought him food from a nearby Burger King, Ledford said.
After gunning down nine people, then running, the police wanted to make sure that this killer (still human) – didn’t go to jail hungry. So they got him a burger. I wonder what twelve year old Tamir Rice would’ve gotten if he had shot, well… anybody (we’re still waiting to find out what happened to him too). Roof didn’t get a special “long ride to the station”, no unexplained bruises were visible during his arraignment,just a healthy living twenty-one year old man with burger breath.
Look, I get the meme – I completely get that it might be oversimplifying things. Admittedly, not all mass murders, criminals, or thugs (who happen to be white) get treated like that.
People are also bugging out about his bullet proof vest, but admittedly, I don’t have a problem with it. I want Dylan safe. High profile targets are protected so that they can make it to court. There was nothing “high profile” about any of the black suspects that were killed by police. They were barely seen as human, so that’s not a fair comparison. He’s a white son of the south, proud patriot of the confederacy (you’ve seen the pictures by now with him burning old glory and waving the stars and bars). Regardless, we need Dylan well. He has purpose.
Dylan confessed and I need to see a guilty white murderer processed through the same justice system that over-processes and sentences people that look like me, quite often unfairly, process and sentence someone as guilty as he, with the same level of impunity they would me had my black finger pulled the trigger.
No – I don’t forgive him. It was an attack on nine specific black lives, but that message was meant for me – and all those like me. So no. Forget that. No forgiveness. I’m an Atheist, I’m not compelled or required to. That’s no failing. I feel no guilt or selfishness in rejecting that forgiveness -eff that! Seventy percent of African-Americans said police do a poor job of holding officers responsible for misconduct and the same percentage believe that law-enforcement officers fail to treat all races equally. That’s my reality. And I get to hear about this murderer downing onion rings courtesy of the same police department I’m pretty sure that pulled me over for Driving While Black a few years ago? No!
My friends and I played White Suspect Media Bingo prior to Dylan’s capture. This is where we posited how the media would spin Dylan’s story – making him more human. Mental Illness (check), Lone-Wolf (check), Parents were victims and didn’t know (check), Manipulated by others (check), He was a Victim (check), etc… Hell, he’s 21 and the press is referring to him as a teenager or child. Mike Brown was 18 years old, three years younger and roughly the same size as the officer that killed him, but he was referred to as a hulking man. Scary “rawr”, but an actual killer – not so much.
So now, in addition to White Suspect Media Bingo (don’t get that mixed up with White Supremacist Media Bingo which uses the South Carolina legislature as the backdrop), I get to apply one more test to the treatment of a suspect.
The McDouble standard.