It cannot be denied that in America there is a set of principles that are applied differently, and usually more rigorously, to one group of people or circumstances than to another. Nowhere is there a blatant double standard than in law enforcement’s treatment or Americans according to race. Whether it is called white privilege, or blatant racism against African Americans, not only is there a double standard based on racial makeup in all aspects of American society, there is a distinctly different response from law enforcement entirely dependent on race.
During the seditious standoff in Nevada when heavily-armed white militias rushed to start the 2nd revolution by confronting federal law enforcement officers executing a federal court order, many observers noted that if Cliven Bundy and his armed thugs had been African Americans, they would have been summarily massacred. Instead, the local sheriff sat idly by doing nothing, while Republicans, and conservative media heralded the patriotism of the openly seditious Bundy gang and bristled at the idea of federal officials enforcing the law.
Contrast law enforcement’s overwhelmingly violent military response to peaceful, and unarmed, African Americans protesting the cold-blooded murder of an unarmed African American teenager at the hands of a white Ferguson police officer and one can hardly claim law enforcement does not apply a different standard to armed whites as opposed to unarmed African Americans. Some pundits may claim that the response by Ferguson and St. Louis Missouri law enforcement is an aberration and unique to that part of the country, but any African American, or any person of color for that matter, can attest to the simple fact law American law enforcement applies a different set of principles to white Americans than Blacks.
Last week, there were two incidents involving law enforcement officers in different parts of the nation applying different standards according to race. First, in Kalamazoo Michigan, police responded to frightened citizens’ reports that a white man in pajamas was on the street waving an assault rifle and threatening people duly scaring them senseless. When police did arrive, they tried to convince the armed white guy to “put the gun down” so they could have a friendly conversation about why waving a firearm at people is, although part and parcel of the man’s constitutional rights to openly carry his firearm, not a good idea because he was jaywalking; the vile crime that incited a white Ferguson police officer to gun down an unarmed African American teen.
The man then promptly flips the bird at the officers and a camera, and still the police attempted to diffuse the situation by telling the man he was “scaring people” to which the man replied “shoot me.” Unlike when an African American man holding a knife in St. Louis told white law enforcement officers to shoot him, which they happily obliged with several shots that killed the man, the Kalamazoo police continued reasoning with the armed white guy until he handed over his assault weapon. A weapon that police returned, likely with apologies for violating his 2nd Amendment rights, the very next day.
Now, Americans may believe that the events in Ferguson, and St. Louis, that shined a glaring spotlight on the outrageous racist law enforcement response to unarmed African Americans shook law enforcement to the core that drove the Kalamazoo police to deal with an armed white guy with gentle persuasion instead of gunfire, but they would be in error. Complementing America’s racial animus toward African Americans is law enforcement’s acknowledgment that America is the land of white privilege.
A couple of days prior to Kalamazoo police officers’ polite response to an armed white guy frightening the public, an incident in Charlotte North Carolina revealed that an armed white man is no threat compared to an African American man, and a politician, distributing voting rights leaflets. Maybe North Carolina law enforcement officers subscribe to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s ideology that encouraging participation in the democratic process is “shocking and underhanded,” and an offense worthy of arrest.
During a Moral Mondays event on Labor Day where activists condemned the state’s voter suppression and racial profiling practice, a young black man who recently ran for public office was approached by several white police officers who handcuffed and arrested him in full view of a crowd of activists before driving him around and stopping at several locations before finally taking him to the local lockup.
The man, Ty Turner, was approached by four Charlotte police officers and taken into custody for the crime of distributing voting rights information while being Black. Turner who was eventually fingerprinted, photographed, cited, and released said “I asked the policeman for the ordinance number being violated, because they can’t put handcuffs on you if they cannot tell you why they’re detaining you. I said, ‘Show me where it’s illegal to do this.’ But he would not do it. The officer got mad and grabbed me. Then he told me that I was resisting arrest!”
Normally, a person police arrest is promptly taken to the Mecklenburg County jail that was a few blocks from where Turner was arrested for distributing voting rights literature while Black. However, Charlotte police took Turner to an empty parking lot “behind the highway before going to three other spots other than the jail.” That gave Turner a clue “They knew they were in the wrong.” The Moral Mondays’ crowd, about 30 people, stopped their prayers, songs, and chants of “Forward together” to marched silently to the jail to demand Turners release led by clergy.
Turner was eventually released, but the founder of the Moral Mondays and N.C. NAACP President Reverend Dr. William Barber said the incident reminded him and other rally participants of earlier, and alarmingly more recent, dark times including the police killing of an unarmed African American last year. Jonathan Ferrell, a 24-year old former college football player was shot 10 times by Charlotte police killing the unarmed man. By all accounts, Turner was very lucky he was not shot and killed because he is definitely the wrong color to benefit from law enforcement’s acknowledgment of America’s unspoken white privilege ideology.
The entire world understands that racism is rampant in America and in no area is it more prevalent than in law enforcement. What the world does not comprehend, though, is that besides rank racism borne of America’s historical white supremacist mindset, is that the law enforcement tasked with protecting and serving the people observe a standard that not only advances the white supremacy agenda, they actively enforce the law according to white privilege that specifically targets African Americans for the heinous crimes of jaywalking and distributing voting rights literature.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.