Dallas tragedy and coalition politics.


A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSH3XR
A demonstrator protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 9, 2016. Posted by permission from REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RTSH3XR

Pardon the below sprawling column. It’s a bit jumbled because I was a bit jumbled when I wrote the bulk of it, Saturday night.

This is a difficult moment. Black Lives Matter demonstrators, their supporters, and allies are grieving the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. By all accounts–including now-ubiquitous phone videos–Sterling and Castile died horribly and unjustifiably at the hands of police. Meanwhile, the law enforcement community grieves the murders of Dallas police officers Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael Krol, Lorne Ahrens, and Michael Smith, who died horribly at the hands of a sniper, who also wounded seven officers.

I identify with angry and grieving BLM protesters and share much of their broad policy agenda. I also identify with angry and grieving police officers, who have such an essential and difficult role in hard-hit urban communities. Which is to say that I cannot fully or unconditionally identify with either side in the customary ways demanded by the antagonists in polarized times.

I shared the below remarks in draft with someone who identifies with BLM, and with someone else who identifies with a law enforcement perspective. Both were offended by what I wrote. Both told me in no uncertain terms that this essay demonstrates my moral cowardice in its equivocation. On one side, I stand accused of failing to bluntly condemn anti-police behavior. On the other, I stand accused of tone policing and of a failure to be a proper ally…

Let me first dispense with preliminaries. This week the nation is focused on the deaths of seven people. Each of these deaths was horrific and frightening. Each of these seven human beings is deeply missed. Yet these killings were also importantly different. Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were two African-American men apparently killed without justification by agents of the state. Based on what we know, Castile and Sterling were only the latest victims in a long story whose origins predate the American republic.

Officers Thompson, Zamarripa, Krol, Ahrens, and Smith were murdered by a violent extremist with a semiautomatic rifle who set out to slaughter white police officers, and did so. As far as we know, he represented no organization or cause wider than himself. If there are immediate political or policy implications to his specific crime, they concern whether different approaches to gun policy might have made such mass shootings less likely or less lethal.

Whatever intemperate politicians or FOX News commentators might suggest, Black Lives Matter shouldn’t be blamed for the killing of these five officers. BLM is an angry and messy, nonviolent movement whose peaceful protests have brought crucial issues of police misconduct to national attention. Many issues highlighted by Black Lives Matter–force mitigation, the need to reform defective police collective bargaining agreements and toxic practices such as revenue-oriented policing–have become central topics for policing reforms at every level of American government. Readers who doubt this might compare this policy document by Campaign Zero and compare it to Chicago’s exhaustive Police Accountability Task Force report issued earlier this year.

As Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza told Chris Hayes Friday night,

Black Lives Matter has never, ever called for the murder of police officers. What we have said over and over again is that it is time in this country for policing to be accountable, transparent and responsible. That’s not rhetoric. That is what communities in the United States want to see from the people who protect and serve them. And so quite frankly, we can, at the same time as we grieve the loss of life of several officers who were killed last night, we can also push to demand that there be accountable, responsive, transparent policing… .

Many of my friends and colleagues in law enforcement–alongside many millions of Americans–can’t seem to hear that. They believe that Black Lives Matter protestors nihilistically oppose all policing, want to hurt police officers, are not concerned by the widespread violence occurring in many low-income minority communities.

Widely-held misperceptions among police are particularly destructive. These sadly reflect the psychological distance between many in law enforcement and the communities they are sworn to protect. Anyone who spends time (say) on Chicago’s hard-hit south and west sides should understand that many of the activists and community leaders involved in BLM are deeply involved in the hard work of violence prevention. (I recently attended a community march against guns and gang violence. Many of the same people chanting “Put down the guns,” were chanting “No justice, no peace,” a moment later. I’ve run into staff members of violence prevention activities at many protest events.)

Simply put, there is no contradiction in promoting violence reduction and accountable, effective, and legitimate law enforcement. We must pursue both, or we will achieve neither. That’s where we are in the America of 2016.

America has been making progress in recent years. 2016 has been a tough year. Yet community violence remains far below the levels of twenty years ago. Violence against police is at historically low levels, too. It’s hard in many ways for police across America right now. It’s hard for bad cops. It’s hardfor good cops, too. There’s no denying that reality. But there is no “war on cops.” Policing is far safer than it was twenty or thirty years ago.

This weekend’s atrocity marked an agonizing exception to that. The Dallas sniper executed precisely the nightmare scenario most feared on both sides of the law enforcement political divide. In the words of my friend Richard Yeselson, this moment demands a blend of strategic savvy and humane empathy that few of us could muster under the best of circumstances.

These are not the best of circumstances.  My Facebook is alight with inflammatory statements by police union leaders who predictably excoriated African-American protestors for creating a climate that abetted these killings. The extreme uncivil stance of these leaders undermines police legitimacy more than anything Black Lives Matter could do. I won’t even dignify the extreme voices directed at President Obama. Such strident rhetoric angers protesters in the street. It also alienates a broad range of civic leaders and policymakers who fully recognize the challenges faced by officers every day, but who also recognize that the political and policy reality of urban policing has changed. Law enforcement must be done differently and better. This includes acknowledging many wrongs that have stoked the protests we are seeing.

It would be a huge mistake for members of the policing community to take refuge in the Dallas killings in efforts to evade overdue reforms. The best police leaders understand that they must show genuine empathy towards aggrieved people who are drawn to protest, and that they must visibly demonstrate that empathy by addressing obvious long-standing abuses. Other police leaders misread the moment, sometime with political incompetence bordering on the comic. Anyone who has studied the tactics of the Civil Rights Movement will recognize the optics and likely political consequences of police over-reaction exemplified by the iconic Baton Rouge photograph at the top of this posting. It was taken by Jonathan Bachman on behalf of Reuters. I hope no other photographers were hoping for Pulitzers. I suspect we will hear much more about the Baton Rouge Police Department in the coming days, not all of it good.

This is a testing time for the Black Lives Matter movement, too. Its protesters have seized real influence and a real platform. New power brings new opportunities and responsibilities to form new connections that cross familiar lines. BLM needs new allies. It needs to find ways to become a new ally, including with more moderate and incremental constituencies that regard police reform  as one key issue alongside others, who might be positively engaged.

Coalition politics is difficult but essential. The real political fights over public safety won’t be decided by Black Lives Matters and its closest allies. These fights will no longer decided by police and their most strident defenders, either. They have lost significant leverage because of BLM’s organizing and because of the sheer accumulated weight of shocking phone videos. The political balance is now held by the broad mass of Americans of every background who admire and depend on police, are wary of any radical anti-police agenda, but who cannot un-see the Laquan McDonald or Walter Scott videos, and so many others.

This political challenge entails a tough ask to young activists who provide the sinews of the BLM movement. Many are angry and mourning. They have serious grievances against police, yet now may be looked to expectantly to memorialize the Dallas police dead, to empathize with the “good police” when bad police may be foremost in their minds. That challenge is especially great when the humane empathy demanded of these young activists is precisely what’s been denied to many of them by the wider society and specifically by our criminal justice system.

Like every sprawling grassroots movement, Black Lives Matter also doesn’t speak with one voice. It’s made some mistakes and can be tone-deaf at times, too. Statements like the one below provide one example of an opportunity squandered. Perhaps I am making too much of something like this. You the reader can decide.

The Black Lives Matter Network advocates for dignity, justice, and respect

In the last few days, this country witnessed the recorded murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police, the latest victims in this country’s failed policing system. As we have done for decades, we marched and protested to highlight the urgent need to transform policing in America, to call for justice, transparency and accountability, and to demand that Black Lives Matter.

In Dallas, many gathered to do the same, joining in a day of action with friends, family, and co-workers. Their efforts were cut short when a lone gunman targeted and attacked 11 police officers, killing five. This is a tragedy–both for those who have been impacted by yesterday’s attack and for our democracy. There are some who would use these events to stifle a movement for change and quicken the demise of a vibrant discourse on the human rights of Black Americans. We should reject all of this.

Black activists have raised the call for an end to violence, not an escalation of it. Yesterday’s attack was the result of the actions of a lone gunman. To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible. We continue our efforts to bring about a better world for all of us.

There’s nothing factually incorrect in the above sentences that mention and dispatch the Dallas tragedy. It’s what’s missing that is jarring. These words express too little tactile connection to five human beings cut down while patrolling an actual BLM event. It would have cost nothing–it would have taken away nothing from the victims of police violence–for a movement that employs the hashtag #SayTheirNames to specifically mourn officers Thompson, Zamarripa, Krol, Ahrens, and Smith by their names, to embrace the wounded officers and bereaved families with greater attention and care.

To my eyes, this statement is pretty sparing in its humane empathy. It is transparently tactical, defensive, and thus strategically unwise. BLM expresses deeply-felt sentiments of angry people who are hurting, who have good reason to be angry and hurting. This posture is necessary and powerfully human. Yet it is insufficient. Anger and hurt alone will not mobilize the crowd of ambivalent, potentially sympathetic onlookers in essential tasks of police reform. Indeed it may have the opposite effect,

BLM projects justified outrage that every movement must do to galvanize supporters and to raise the costs of maintaining unjust policies. Militant organizing works best when its expression is leavened with generous and universal impulses to defuse potential enemies. It’s especially important in this case to reach potential allies in the broader electorate and in the law enforcement community. As great improvements within the Dallas PD suggest, the reform project requires active engagement of police and of constituencies who might favor reform yet who are ambivalent and wary, too.

Distancing BLM from anti-police extremist violence is more politically necessary than it should be, since this movement does not advocate violence. But there is a brittle defensiveness among BLM activists that bears attention. It should not be hard to  openly engage the families and friends of Dallas police officers who were murdered within direct eyeshot of many BLM activists. Embracing police victims and their families might debunk stereotypes about what militant activism  is about. More important, it might display a largeness of spirit in short supply in America in this moment. Humane empathy is always wise. In this case, it is also a strategic imperative.


Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

71 thoughts on “Dallas tragedy and coalition politics.”

  1. Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking piece, Harold. Trying to honestly express your thoughts and reactions to the horrors we are witnessing on a daily basis seems to me to be the opposite of moral cowardice. I hope you will forgive my rambling, which will likely prove to be more extensive than yours. I have found in these last days that it helps me to be clear about what and think and believe and also to deal with the very strong feelings I have about what is happening before our eyes. I agree with much of what you have to say, but I wanted to respond to some issues that seem to arise in many attempts to discuss this moment in our history and that came up for me as I read the column. Please forgive me if I have read you wrong. Even if I have, I find it helpful to put my thoughts in writing. First, I am confused by your use of the word militant as a descriptor for Black Lives Matter, which has consistently advocated non-violent resistance to a violent power structure. Second, Black Lives Matter is an organization with chapters throughout the country that has been instrumental in forcing many in our nation to grapple with the destruction of Black bodies by, or with the tacit approval of, agents of the state that has been part of the fabric of our society for hundreds of years. BLM needs to be distinguished from what might be described as the black lives matter movement. The movement that has arisen, thanks largely to the efforts and organizing of BLM, is made up of diverse organizations and individuals who have come together to denounce the state-sanctioned destruction of Black lives with impunity. Whether discussing BLM or this movement, many within and outside the media have consistently put forward a false narrative that places police on one side and the movement on the other as if they are in opposition. Although I don't believe this is how you view the situation, your column can be read this way. The BLM or blm movement is not about "bad cops" or "good cops" or about police practices per se, or about the grief for lives lost, although these are all highly relevant for obvious reasons. It is about our consistent refusal to seek justice for Black people killed by agents of the state and our failure to hold any members of law enforcement accountable for these killings and our failure to hold anyone accountable for covering up the killings, protecting, or lying on behalf of the killers. For this movement the individuals who pull the trigger are much less important than the systems that produce, support, and protect them. There is nothing anti-police in saying that police and public officials should not be above the law, as they have been for hundreds of years where Black bodies are concerned. Third, #SayTheirNames is less about grieving or honoring the dead than it is about bearing witness to what was done to them with impunity. Emmett Till could have been grieved with a closed casket. His open casket and the pictures of him served a different function. Our cameras are the open casket now. Expressions of sympathy for the police officers murdered in Dallas should not be equated with the hashtags that are now so numerous it is hard to keep up with them. Whether talking about those killed in Dallas or those whose names we say, these are lives that should not have been taken and murders that should be condemned. But it seems that you are suggesting that BLM should have made a statement that focuses on the lives lost and equates the lives taken in Dallas with those who have been killed by police. The problem with this is that the two types of murder are completely different. On the one hand there was a horrific murder of 5 police killed by an individual while doing their jobs. That individual was not only held accountable, he was killed for his crime. There is no history or pattern of police being killed in our country without repercussions for their killers. In fact, it would be difficult to come up with even one instance of someone "getting away with murder" of a police officer. On the other hand, those whose names we say are killed again and again without any convictions and nearly always without any charges. I believe that BLM is right to maintain the focus on the systematic destruction of Black bodies by agents of the state with impunity, particularly when the attention of so many has shifted to Dallas. Thanks for reading this late-night rambling. I am, of course, interested in your reactions to it, which will likely be even more helpful to me than writing it was.

    1. "There is no history or pattern of police being killed in our country without repercussions for their killers."

      This is key here. I think we are all confident that when police offices are killed, their killers will be brought to justice. Say their names is for people who have been denied justice.
      There is also another imbalance. BLM have unequivocally condemned violence against police officers. Representatives of police officers continue to deny the wrongness of the deaths BLM is protesting.

    2. I don't disagree with your main point really, nor do I think it would be fair to hold BLM leaders to a super high standard related to the Dallas shootings, bc I don't think they had anything to do with it. Still, the officers were not in fact killed just for doing their jobs. They were killed because of their skin color and their profession. We shouldn't forget that either. (I tend not to follow super closely… but I think one of them was light skinned Latino. Of interest to me at any rate.)

  2. While we are recognizing the names of individuals, the young woman's name is Ieshia L. Evans, aged 35, a nurse and mother of a young boy.

  3. Thanks so much for this. One can have empathy, compassion, grief, and support for all concerned in these tragedies. One doesn't have to be "against" either BLM or these police officers. Being aware that the BLM movement is a clear and direct result of many years of unpunished actions by police doesn't mean that I'm not also aware of the tragedy suffered by THESE police, who were doing their jobs in the way we'd like to see all police do their jobs. There's absolutely no need to feel that we must wholeheartedly condemn one group if we support the other. Being anti murdering police officers doesn't mean we aren't also anti police officers killing and brutalizing some of our fellow citizens to a much greater extent than they do others, based on skin color alone.

  4. Wait wait wait… the video shows the unjustified killing of Alton Sterling, the fighting man with an illegal gun? Are there two famous shooting victims named Alton Sterling?

    The video I watched 5 times and frame by frame appears to show the officer struggling to control Sterling's right arm. The officer knew the gun was in the right pocket, which he had yelled about before the shots were fired. If I pointed a gun at someone, disobeyed the responding police, and then resisted them when they put their hands on me and reached for my pocket, I would expect to die… and I am as white as a powdered donut. Everybody dies under those circumstances. If I was the cop, I would run the whole mag out under those circumstances. Mr. Sterling's lengthy criminal record includes possession of an illegal firearm and resisting arrest (what a coincidence!). What am I missing here? Is there a new video that shows his right hand shot from under the car they were wrestling under or something? Has new evidence surfaced?

    1. Well, yes. And for a "non-violent" movement, they actually do have quite the record of violence.

      1. African Americans have a plenty of just grievances. I would not condemn a movement built on such a solid foundation… although I am troubled by the knee-jerk reactions. I am not convinced that the police are really the group to blame for the plight of African Americans in this country; in fact, i would go so far as to say that the issues between the police and African American communities were essentially guaranteed by the economics of being black in the United States in the 20th century. If certain forces cause the majority of the worst concentrated poverty in any nation to exist in the neighborhoods of one ethnic minority, there are going to be problems between that group and the police. I really do think it is totally unavoidable, and am more inclined to blame the forces than either the black communities or the police. The only way to change the underlying dynamics would be to break the black quasi monopoly on concentrated poverty.

        1. The existence of state sanctioned death squads, often including members of the police, that hanged thousands of African-Americans from trees until dead, without consequences, also played a large role. That the shooting of Alton Sterling occurred in a city whose police force prompted visiting cops from Michigan and New Mexico to file complaints about the Baton Rouge officers casual brutality and racism is also worth noting.

          1. Hey look, I am more than happy to believe bad things about the Baton Rouge PD, but that doesn't make the video or the gun disappear. You appear to be constructing some situation in which the notion that the Baton Rouge Police Department is (collectively) racist and the notion that Alton Sterling is not an innocent victim of anything are mutually exclusive. Why? That just doesn't make any sense. Should we have hung Darren Wilson from a tree because he was associated with that police department, even though he never used his weapon in 5 years on the job until that day? Even though the same Justice Department that set about proving that the Ferguson PD was a bad outfit cleared Wilson? Guilt by association is ok when it is directed at the police? I don't understand.

          2. So, he had a gun. Guess what? That's perfectly legal. So long as Americans are determined to allow large numbers of their fellow citizens to legally carry guns, the cops simply cannot treat the presence of one as a deadly threat. It's an insane way to run a country, but that's what we've chosen. Given that, cops are going to have to learn to live with not automatically treating a gun in someone's pocket as a deadly threat.

          3. It is legal for a multiple felon (including firearms felonies) to carry a gun? Interesting. They were responding to a 911 call for a man (Mr. Sterling) brandishing a gun (because he was annoyed at a transient (let's be honest, we all sometimes wish we had a gun on us to threaten aggressive beggars with)). So… one of three things is happening here. Either 1) I am in error. 2) You didn't know what the 911 call was about, and formed an opinion anyway, or 3) You are wearing a logic-resistant tunic, and I am wasting my time. Despite what you and I might think about that festering swamp, it is actually illegal to threaten someone with a gun there. Shocking, I know.

            “He pulled the gun on the complainant and told him he couldn’t be around there,” -911 operator to police http://wgno.com/2016/07/06/police-release-911-cal

            The cops can treat the subject of a "man threatening people with a gun" 911 call as a deadly threat if the man is actively trying to retain control of the gun-arm. If you don't like it, you can just go ahead and be that way, because in this stupid country people get to believe stupid impractical things if they want to. Be careful though, sanctimony is no path to heaven.

          4. I know what the 911 call was about. I also know that the only known and surviving witness of that portion of the event has said that the 911 call was in error. This is a possibility that police must remain aware of, and not charge onto the scene and instantly escalate the situation. You'd think that the Tamir Rice case would have taught everyone that. That's the biggest problem that leads to an avoidable killing: rather than de-escalating the situation, at every step the cops are taking the most aggressive possible action and turning what could have been a peaceful encounter into a killing.

          5. The major issue with the Tamir Rice case is his age. We all understand that he didn't understand. Alton Sterling understood. When the police are called out for a man committing a felony with a gun, they should immediately gain complete control of the situation and halt any criminal wrongdoing involving a firearm. Tamir Rice wasn't a man with a gun, he was a big boy with a realistic looking toy. Mr. Sterling was an adult with an illegal gun. He had to have known that when you have a gun, resisting the police can get you killed. Reaching for that pocket would have gotten me killed, even if I was wearing a star wars shirt, board shorts, flip flops and a fraternity hat… as well it should, because I would never reach for a gun while being arrested unless I planned to kill a cop. Mr. Sterling wouldn't cooperate because he knew that if he let this play out they would find the concealed weapon, and then inevitably he would be going to prison… again. Guess he was tired of it, but not tired enough to forego the illegal gun.

            IF Mr. Sterling was reaching for the pocket and you still feel as though the police did something wrong, you are insane. That is all there is to it.

          6. Police chose to engage Tamir Rice in a manner very likely to lead to his death. That was a decision they freely took, and they had other, far better options. They ought to be in prison.

            Ohio is an open carry state. We've all seen video of police engaging young white open-carry activists. They park their squad cars at some distance, in full view of the boys they mean to question. Then they approach slowly, and speak calmly when they get there. Nobody's startled. Everyone has time to think about what their hands are doing.

            Rice gets none of that. Instead, officers race up to him in a squad car and stop suddenly, so near to him that neither Rice nor the officers have much time to consider their responses. The officers claim that they reasonably feared for their lives. This is plausible. But to whatever extent it's true, it's also true that the police manufactured that reasonable fear.

            The problem isn't that Rice was young, or that he was holding a toy. A perfectly harmless adult, lawfully carrying a real weapon, might well have reacted in exactly the same way to that sudden attack.

            At some point in 1976 I was standing in my neighbor's yard holding a black plastic toy gun. If a car had screeched to a halt behind me, I'd have turned suddenly to face it, "weapon" in hand. I wasn't a danger to anyone, and any officer who used his tactical control over the situation to engineer an excuse to kill me would have been a murderer.

          7. A perfectly harmless adult carrying a legal weapon does not tend to generate 911 calls saying that he is threatening people with a gun. If such a call is generated, a perfectly harmless adult – especially one who has been arrested so very many times – fully understands that if he makes real attempts to retain control of his gun-hand, he will die (unless he manages to kill the cops first). Mr. Sterling didn't cooperate because he didn't want to go to prison. He might also have felt that he wasn't up to any serious criminal wrongdoing that night, and thus that he didn't deserve this terrible piece of luck. Oh well, that is life in the big city.

            Your comparison of Tamir to open-carry trolls is silly, since open-carry trolls don't generate 911 calls about someone pointing a gun at people. They might generate 911 calls, but those 911 calls are very different. I am not a fan of open carry trolls, but really, you are doing them a disservice (can't believe I am saying that. Look what you have made me do, are you happy?) . If you really believe those officers had any intent of "engineering" a fatal confrontation, I don't know what to say. Aggressive approaches can sometimes provoke resistance, but they also often prevent resistance by nipping situations in the bud.

            The Tamir Rice case is heartbreaking, but you are letting your emotions cloud your judgment if you think there was any criminal intent on the part of those poor officers. Likewise, if you think they are glad they wasted that kid, shame on you. They will carry that forever… if it were me, I would have fired when Tamir (inexplicably) drew… and when I discovered the truth, I would probably eat my gun.

          8. To recap: I argue that police engaged Rice in a way that would very likely lead to Rice's death in the event that he turned out to be a law-abiding adult or a child playing with a toy. Your response is that this is acceptable, because the police had a well-founded belief that they were engaging an armed and dangerous adult.

            A 911 call is sketchy information. And it's sketchier still by the time it's been conveyed to the responding officers. And yet, on the strength of that preliminary information, they choose a course of action that's very likely to lead to a citizen's death if their information is incorrect or incomplete.

            Your argument is that police officers are entitled to kill on the basis of unsourced, unverified preliminary reports.

            Don't quibble about that use of the verb "kill." That's the gamble they made. "If this guy is what we think he is, this is maybe our best chance to disarm him with minimal risk to ourselves and bystanders. If our sketchy information is at all incorrect or incomplete, we'll be killing a harmless citizen." Their information wasn't firm enough to take that decision.

          9. A 911 call is not a death sentence. You don't get to gun someone down just because some rando on the phone tells you to do it.

            When they chose to engage Rice by surprise at close range, they had no idea who or what he was. For all those officers knew, Rice could have been anything from an adult spree killer looking for targets to a child playing with a toy. And they chose a method that could reasonably have been expected to lead to the subject's death in either of those cases.

            That's negligent homicide. You're convinced that the officers in question didn't intend to hurt an innocent. And you're further convinced that the officers regret their mistake. I'll happily accept both premises, arguendo. Neither is a defense against negligent homicide. (Consider a driver who does 60 through a school zone who strikes and kills a child that he didn't intend to harm, and about whose death he feels very sad.)

          10. I don't accept your assertion that pulling up to someone quickly in a painted police car and dismounting in a normal police uniform will tend to cause non-criminal actors to reach for toy guns and pull them out as if to shoot you. Yes, I know that that is in fact what happened with Tamir Rice, but I really think that reaction is more like a lightning strike than it is some sort of principle of human behavior. I have been approached suddenly by the police before, and the only time I ever had a real startle reaction was when they were in plainclothes with no visible badges (it is against their procedures to get that close to me with nothing visible without declaring themselves, btw). For it to be negligent homicide, it has to be foreseeable.

            Of course a 911 call isn't a death sentence; pulling a replica gun on two cops is a death sentence. I cannot believe that two officers should have been able to foresee some big kid pulling a replica as if it was a real gun. Tamir's reaction, to me, was inexplicable. To you, it is a totally normal reaction to sudden motion. We definitely have a difference of opinions here.

          11. First, you display far more certitude as to what Tamir Rice did as a police car rolled to a stop in front of him than is merited by the video; it is not at all clear what Rice was doing with his hands, and all you have done is repeat the cops' assumption, not stated a fact.

            Second, if you really think that the natural human reaction to shouted commands is to comply with them in the less than a second that Rice had to respond, then your understanding of human behavior is woefully lacking.

          12. We obviously have widely divergent views on the propriety of the aggressive policing. By saying that police ". . . should immediately gain complete control of the situation . . ." and using this as an example, you are saying that you don't mind the police killing innocent people. There are too many times when human beings will respond in ways other than what you think they should for it to be otherwise, whether it's because they don't properly understand the commands they are given, or because they panic when police begin screaming at them, or because the natural reaction people have to being violently tackled is to fight back, or any of a vast number of reasons. There are too many times when aggressive, hyped up police will think that someone is reaching for a gun when they are not for it to be otherwise. Rushing in and creating a physical confrontation greatly increases the ways that an interaction can go wrong.

            The reason European countries have many, many fewer instances of people being shot by the police is because they don't respond the way you are saying they should. More often, they try to de-escalate, so there are fewer physical confrontations. It doesn't seem to impair their ability to deal with crime.

            I find the whole attitude of blaming people for reacting the way that human beings do, and so putting all of the onus on them to avoid getting shot to be despicable. The police are the ones who have (or at least ought to have) training in keeping their wits in this sort of situation, and we still see them react out of fear and panic. Maybe they ought to dial it back and not produce panicked reactions in those around them.

          13. No, I am saying Mr. Sterling was not an innocent person. I am fine with people like Mr. Sterling being killed by the police, no matter their color or creed. It isn't an easy position; I watched Mr. Sterling's son break down crying at the press conference. I hold the position because this crazy country has to be policed, and I can't see a way to do it without the resisting armed felons (with hot gun 911 calls) among us catching rounds from time to time.

            Is that really why the Europeans have fewer such instances? I am pretty sure that on a different day and in a different discussion I could get you to say something like "European societies are less violent because they aren't drowning in guns (and in euro countries with high gun ownership, there is less wealth inequality and thus less social tension, much less concentrated poverty)." And I think, on that day, you would have a better point. American cops get shot much more often than European cops too, don't they?

            Policing style is reflective of the community that is being policed. It is not a one-way street, like you pretend with your Europe example. Americans are a fucking dangerous group of folks, when you get right down to it. We are armed to the teeth, highly individualistic, we glorify violence, we glorify acts of resistance against authority (even when the authority is legitimate), we have whole regions that are infected with honor-culture weirdness, we gave birth to gangster rap (and all of the bullshit that goes with it)… our concentrated poverty is some of the worst in the developed world. Policing Americans is a difficult and dangerous business… And sometimes, aggression pays dividends. You can find situations where it would have been better if everyone had slowed down (Garner); you can find other situations where it would have been better if police had acted more decisively. Aggression vs. Other Slower Approaches in policing is like a left/right slider in a strategy game; one end of the slider does better in certain circumstances, ditto the other. For all you know, a slower approach to Mr. Sterling might have gotten an (actually) innocent cop killed; he knew they would find the gun. He had seen that movie before, and didn't like the ending; he had every reason to try to kill them (and watching the video again for the 7th time, I think he actually did). Also, I am not sure I am totally following your point. The shooting of Tamir Rice was almost instant once the toy was in full view. This played out over a much larger period of time… Mr. Sterling knew the score and what he was facing, he wasn't in some sort of ragestate that they forced upon him.

            I am still sitting here trying to wrap my head around the whole country going nuts over the death of fighting man with illegal gun. What does it say when our leading intellectuals make pronouncements like "the videos show what we might have suspected all along; Alton Sterling was murdered by racist cops" when actually, the video doesn't really seem to show that at all. Who would become a cop in this day and age? This isn't good man. Not good at all.

          14. I think what means is that rage against the police, with a strong racial element, is seen as politically useful. The last two Presidential election years were relatively good for Democrats, because Obama at the top of the ticket boosted black turnout.

            Without that factor, Democratic strategists were concerned that 2016 might look more like the recent midterms, which were not good for Democrats.

            Horrible race relations, verging on race war? Might boost that critical black turnout.

          15. Thanks for reminding me how much rightists despise Obama. I always forget how far you guys will go in accusing him of outlandish and machiavellian maneuverings.

          16. As best I can tell, the officers had no way of knowing that he was a felon or that his gun was illegal, so I'm not sure how relevant those facts are other than as a post-hoc justification that he probably deserved it.

          17. They didn't know that he was a felon, although the gun was rendered illegal for their purposes by his threatening people with it (the 911 call).

            The illegality of the gun goes towards understanding Mr. Sterling's state of mind when the police showed up. Why did he resist? What do we make of the officer's claim (backed by the video) that Mr. Sterling was doing scary things with his gun hand? Does it make any sense that Mr. Sterling would do something so rash? Why, yes it does. Because he knew he was going back to prison if he let it play out.

            Also, no justification beyond the following is required or even wanted: Man with gun disobeys lawful orders, resists arrest, reaches for gun. That right there is one of the classic openings of the "your wife is now a widow and your kids are now without a father" movie.

          18. Whereas if he shot a cop, there would be no consequences….oh, wait. That doesn't make any sense.
            Also, the gun was not "rendered illegal", because he only allegedly threatened people with it. The truth of that accusation is still in dispute, I believe.
            It is also interesting to me that people keep focusing on the difficult case. What do you have to say about Philando Castile? My understanding it that he was shot for reaching for his license, when the officer told him to show him his license. I remember another case of an African American man shot for reaching for his license, when he had been ordered to show his license.
            Or, what about all the times that republican senator Scott has been stopped http://www.vox.com/2016/7/13/12184078/tim-scott-p

          19. A lot of things that Mr. Sterling did at many points in his life did not make sense in that, well, sense. He was, after all, a repeat felon. You know very well that I mean they were worried that he had a gun before they got there and intended to detain or arrest him and, at least temporarily, relieve him of it (and investigate the content of the 911 call). He, of course, knew that this meant he was going back to prison… again.

            Why is it interesting to you that I am focusing on the Sterling case? I haven't seen a video of the Castile shooting. The video I did see was of course very concerning, but it didn't show the actual shooting, so I really don't know. We have enough video of the Sterling shooting to hazard a good guess, and it certainly isn't that, as the OP wrote, "By all accounts–including now-ubiquitous phone videos–Sterling and Castile died horribly and unjustifiably at the hands of police." The picture on the original post is of a protester in Baton Rouge. I am focusing on it because the direction everyone is going with this appears to be complete bullshit (if you just look at the damn video frame by frame), and we have an actual video to watch.

            Oh man, the Castile shooting (as narrated by the girlfriend later, neither you nor I have actually seen the shooting) totally reminds me of that exact same shooting. It was a white cop in, I think, in South Carolina? Pulled a young black guy over and the black guy pulled into, I think it was a gas station? Tells him to get his license and then when the guy reaches, shoots him. Paralyzed the guy, IIRC. Horrible shooting. Just horrible. Wouldn't be at all surprised if race was a factor there or with Castile (if the girlfriend's narration is accurate). The cop was so deathly afraid. You could see that the cop knew it was bad almost immediately.

            I liked Senator Scott's speech quite a lot. I did already know that racial profiling is SOP in American Law Enforcement, but it is always moving to hear it described personally.

            Why you would think that my sane reading of the Sterling shooting should naturally lead to my being questioned about the Castile shooting and racial profiling, when I have said: BLM has just grievances, I personally support reparations, etc? If my stance on the Sterling shooting seems surprising in light of those facts, IT SHOULDN'T. WATCH THE VIDEO FRAME BY FRAME. Unlike, well, apparently the rest of you outraged white-collar paragons, I think we should only do cops when they deserve it. The video plainly supports the police account of the encounter. A careful review of the video would not lead any sane man or woman to protest. This looks like what the cops say it was: police work.

      2. If I said, "for a "non-violent"/"law-abiding" group, gun owners actually do have quite the record of violence", would you consider that fair? Probably not, I reckon. Comments like this add essentially nothing to a discussion.

        1. Well, are NRA chapters assaulting speakers, as BLM chapters have done multiple times? I'm sure you remember Bernie having the mike taken away, you might not recall the same being done to Milo Yiannopoulous.

          I'm pretty sure everyone, world wide, would have heard it if an NRA chapter had done that to Hillary.

          So, is Tef Poe the face of BLM, or isn't he?

          1. LOL the infowarz link! Good god Brett, big time cringarino.

            All that is left now is for someone to call someone a Nazi, and we will have completed the internet debate dance. Thanks for doing your part, I couldn't have performed the role of infowarz-reader without paralyzing myself (by uncontrollable cringing)… and obviously, the show must go on.

          2. You're saying BLM chapters didn't attack Bernie and Milo, because infowars?

          3. If someone had actually attacked the Bern, he would have been broken in twain… the dude is almost 200 ffs. She impolitely took the microphone from his hand. That's right, it was a she, and she was unarmed. Oooooo, so scary! The wrath of the unarmed woman! What was she going to do, pound on his chest? It is probably a misdemeanor or something. To say "BLM attacked the Bern" is obviously a massive overstatement aimed to inflame. How about "disrupted an event, violated his personal space and probably broke the law in some small way."

          4. Right, a small way… What a disgusting excuse for political violence.

            Just admit it: BLM IS a violent movement. Just like virtually all the violence at Trump rallies is perpetrated by Democrats trying to shut them down.

            The left in America are going down a dark path here. You're finding it easier and easier to rationalize political violence.

          5. I don't view two hysterical unarmed women taking a microphone from someone to be an act of "political violence." The physical powerlessness of an unarmed woman is basically impossible to overstate. They are literally harmless. If that is political violence, then my silly little Havanese is the Hound of Baskervilles.

          6. That's right, you don't view it as violence, and that's the problem here.

            Neither Bernie nor Milo gave up the mike voluntarily. Sure, the person delivering the threats was a woman, not some hulking brute. Have you watched the video? "If you do not listen to her, your event will be shut down right now."

            That's BLM's MO: Have a seemingly non-threatening woman deliver the ultimatum where the cameras are pointed, have the hulking brutes who enforce the threat just off camera.

            A threat is still a threat if delivered by someone with two X chromosomes. What makes it a threat are the consequences if you don't comply.

    2. let's be honest, we all sometimes wish we had a gun on us to threaten aggressive beggars with

      Actually, no. We don't all wish that. And I'm not inclined to take lectures on proper use of force from someone who does, even if it's just wishful thinking. Maybe especially if it's wishful thinking.

      1. I don't think anyone else had trouble recognizing the sarcasm there… did they?

        My actual point was, threatening people (even transients! they are people too!) with a gun is a serious crime, and will cause serious, scared and unhappy men to show up and try to disarm you.

        Edit: Apparently I am wrong, since someone liked your comment. Ok well, I would have rated that as the most obvious kind of sarcasm, but I guess I won't be sarcastic on here anymore… but really like, are you sure you guys don't have asperger's or something? I have showed it to 5 other people now and they all say the sarcasm was obvious (but then again, they know me… so, not exactly a scientific data capture).

        1. Right there with you. Pretending to take obvious sarcasm seriously is a mild form of trolling. I do it in other places, under other names, but it's out of place here. Different rooms have different standards, and this one's pretty high-brow.

          1. Thanks.

            If it means anything to you (and not just because you were decent about the sarcasm thing), you have convinced me that the police should consider approaching these situations slowly if people are not in direct danger. It seems as though they could have determined that Rice was not imminently endangering anyone since he was sitting alone at the bench for a decent period of time just before the pull up. J-Neal also points out that I was wrong about the conclusiveness of the video in the Rice case, which I accept. I had believed it showed that he was removing an object from his clothing, when in reality all that is definite is the dramatic reach for the clothing. The officers testified that he definitively touched the pellet gun, but the video can only corroborate the dramatic reach.

            I still think none of that it is relevant to the Sterling shooting, which played out over, what, at the very least 5 times as much time? Probably more like 12-20 times as much time from first contact to shots fired?

    3. If I pointed a gun at someone, disobeyed the responding police, and then resisted them when they put their hands on me and reached for my pocket, I would expect to die… and I am as white as a powdered donut. Everybody dies under those circumstances.

      And that's why everyone at the Bundy ranch is dead. The end.

      1. You do realize that the only person who actually did what I wrote in a direct confrontation with police (of the rancher militia clowns) was LeRoy Finnicum (well I guess there was never the physical resistance, but the disobey lawful orders and reach is there), and he WAS in fact shot dead by police? And yes, I am totally fine with the police shooting him to death. Totally warranted.

        The police chose to wait them out instead of engaging in a bit of the ole' light infantry combat. It was probably the mature decision, I guess. If you think confronting a man who has allegedly threatened someone with a gun outside of a convenience store is the same as confronting a dozen or more lunatics with combat rifles who have seized a barn… I don't know what to say.

        I mean, nice try but wow, talk about a swing and a miss.

        1. First of all, I'm not talking about the Great Bird Sanctuary Takeover of 2015-16. I'm talking about the Bundy Ranch, in which the Bundy family and their friends positioned people in multiple sniper positions with rifles pointed at the heads of Federal law enforcement agents.

          In any case, I can certainly point you to dozens of other relevant examples. Your claim that "everybody" dies under those circumstances is ludicrous on its face and unsupportable with any known set of facts.

          1. The same exact comparison problem occurs. You cannot compare how the BLM agents reacted to a situation in which (terrifyingly) they might actually be outgunned by a force of light infantry irregulars to how a municipal police department responded to a call of a man threatening people with a gun outside of a convenience store. You are comparing oranges to motorcycles. It is obviously silly. And yeah for the record, I would have been fine with all of those people being killed, although I think choosing to safeguard the lives of the agents was probably the mature decision.

            Please, show me a case in which a white man was struggling to access his known gun while the police were physically trying but failing to restrain him, and he wasn't shot. If you can find even one such case, I will be impressed.

            You are clearly suffering from a massive lack of real-life experience with these issues, and there is nothing I can do about that.

  5. Interesting debate. In the part of the video I saw, I couldn't tell very well where anyone's hands were or what they were or weren't doing with them, which isn't to say either of you is wrong, but just to say, I sure hope I don't ever end up on a jury trying to decide something important with a cr*ppy video.

    With what happened to Tamir Rice, I blame whoever thought it was a good idea to create real-looking guns and then let (large) kids play with them. Why is this even allowed? It's even dumber than our dumb fondness for real guns.

    As someone in the bleachers… this does seem to mostly happen to black men who are also tall/big. Poor Eric Garner! Over cigarrettes.

    I think arguing about Sterling is good to a point, since there are genuine controversies… but then there are also these other cases where the racism seems more clear. Like, to me at least, the Garner case. And then if we're going to get all realistic about what the police face, which is good… then wouldn't we have to also say that if one lives in a dangerous neighborhood, one might feel the need to carry a gun, even if a felon? Not every single homeless person is a gentle soul. Sterling may not feel he can call the police, right? So now we are back at the beginning of the circle. As hard as this all is to watch, I do think it is worthwhile for us all to try to … not sure what word goes here, but… work out this relationship between policing and being black, since how can you fight crime if you can't call police and you live in an austerity country? As Leroy pointed out above, I believe… it's a recipe for bad things to happen. If enough people read that speech, we might get somewhere.

    1. http://bluelivesmatter.blue/second-alton-sterling

      You might not be inclined to trust bluelivesmatter, which is fine, so skip the commentary and scroll down to the stillshots. Forget beyond a reasonable doubt, this wouldn't get past the civil standard. The video is quite clear once you spend some time with it frame-by-frame (I wish I could muster some outrage at the various groups, including apparently leading intellectuals, who don't actually carefully review the film before calling the officers murderers… but honestly, I feel more exhausted than outraged); it is more likely than not that the officers are telling the truth, as the video shows Mr. Sterling contesting control of his gun hand. It isn't a great video, but I doubt a jury will ever see it. If this went to trial, it would be an act of reverse-lynching (unless the state can produce evidence other than this video).

      As for Mr. Sterling carrying a gun because it is a bad neighborhood… color me unsympathetic. It is a bad neighborhood BECAUSE OF MEN LIKE MR. STERLING! I have been refraining from calling him registered-sex-offender Sterling, because for all I know that could have been some sort of Romeo and Juliet story that the state jumped into… but make no mistake, Mr. Sterling was a man who liked to carry illegal guns and break into other people's houses. He was a big man; he could walk around with a glass bottle in his hand and no gunless man would ever offend against him. He lost his right to carry a gun several different times, many of those times whilst carrying a gun. No, sympathy for Mr. Sterling's illegal gun habit has to be out of the question here, otherwise, we have to just pull the police out of bad neighborhoods.

      I completely agree with you on big kids with realistic looking toy guns. I also agree about poor Mr. Garner, although it should be said that Mr. Garner didn't die over cigarettes; he died of difficult-to-foresee complications of getting roughed up over some of the most mild and non-threatening resisting (arrest) I have ever seen. Still though, it is misleading to say he died over cigarettes. If I jumped out of my car on a traffic stop with a gun and went down in a hail of police gunfire, you wouldn't say that I was killed "over a moving violation." I can't imagine what he was thinking; if I were an obese asthmatic with ticker trouble, the last thing I would do is resist. Poor guy, almost certainly could have been talked down. Not a great moment for the NYPD.

      1. Thank you for the link… to be honest though, I probably won't watch it. I only like reality a little bit at a time. It is all very sad… and I'm not invested enough in having an opinion to sit through it. I like prevention better.

        I don't know that I would expect or need anyone to feel "sympathetic" toward someone. Otoh… if he has paid his debt to society, or even to be cynical, his most recent debt … then I still think he deserves to live his life, and to live in a place that wasn't so horribly unsafe that he even felt like he needed a gun. What does it say if a large guy carries a gun? Idk, but it can't be good. This will probably sound like a dumb question, and maybe there isn't any data… but, why does being poor mean you have to live with high crime? And is this universal, or just the US?

        I rather disagree about Garner. Why bother him at all? It's tax evasion at most, I would have thought. Plus… I think it's entirely foreseeable that someone will get very upset if they get arrested… heart attacks, strokes, you name it… and while I am not saying that is the officer's *fault*… I am saying, let's not arrest people for stupid things.

        1. If only it could be that way, but it can't. The moment you don't go after people for tax evasion, you concede the state's ability to tax. Similarly, if you de-criminalize cigarette smuggling (and its lesser but inextricably linked derivatives, like Mr. Garner's "business"), you concede New York's ability to crack down on cigarette smoking economically. That is bad! Making cigarettes more expensive saves lives! Loads of em! The consequences of leaving the Mr. Garners of this world alone aren't as straightforward as they appear to be.

          The officers should have tried to de-escalate instead of using the maximum authorized level of force… but Mr. Garner had to answer for what he did. He had to go into a police car that day, at least for a stern lecture. When an honest policeman tells you that you are under arrest and then reaches for your hand and you jerk your hand away, that is no joke. That is serious business, a felony. I wouldn't have charged him for resisting (if he cooperated after I tried to de-escalate), but he would have gotten an earful about just how totally unacceptable his behavior was. When the police tell you that you are under arrest, that is it. Time to shut up, or try to make nice so that they won't charge you. You CANNOT be rewarded for resisting them, in any way.

          And sure, I don't need you to go and look at the 3 or 4 stillshots that capture the crux of the justification for the shooting, so long as you aren't screaming things like remember Alton Sterling, Put these killa cops in jail, etc.

          Concentrated poverty leading to violent crime is essentially universal, yes. It is not a United States only phenomena; the reason we have such a difficult social issue on our hands is that almost all of our worst concentrated poverty is black.

          1. The *police* don't have to go after it though. There are myriad ways to hassle people to get taxes out of them that don't involve a gun. To borrow from Taylor Swift, smokers gonna smoke (smoke,smoke,smoke, smoke…) (Ahem. I'm all for warning labels and not selling to kids and no ads tho.)

            I would overall tend to agree with you that people ought to cooperate with officers… which is exactly why I don't want them to be over-policing. And don't worry I am not out yelling at anyone about anything. When I can stand to think about this, I do try to figure out what, if anything, I ought to do. Thing is, I think the LA police commission does okay. Of course, I suppose I *would* think that…

  6. I wrote a short piece on this here: http://supervidoqo.blogspot.com/2016/07/finding-h

    There are a lot of problems in black communities. Police have to deal with problematic people on a daily basis. Implicit bias exists.

    It would make sense that the combination of these three things would create an environment in which some police are more likely to treat blacks as more suspect, with less benefit of the doubt, and less compassion.

    Acknowledging this, it seems, takes a way blame and views the function of the situation more objectively. The answer is simply: how can we reduce the problem? Since poverty and dysfunction in the black community isn't going to end any time soon, how can we help police officers maintain a respect for the the civil rights and humanity of members of disadvantaged ethnic communities?

    1. The definitive solution is to end the black quasi-monopoly on the worst concentrated poverty. Once that is done, the black (per-capita) quasi-monopoly on violent crime will unwind. Once that unwinds, the police will unwind their bias. I am personally in favor of reparations. Affirmative action in universities is probably a good idea but it has undesirable qualities and is definitely not enough. We also just can't blindly hand money to African Americans, since bad money management is one of the more ubiquitous traits of the very poor worldwide. We need to come up with some sort of elegant solution and then pump a ton of money into it.

      But you ask for things that can actually be done? Uhhhh, I think you could get a little bit of mileage out of raising the IQ of the average cop (low IQ is a huge risk factor for violent offense, I am assuming the same correlation holds for a policeman's propensity to choose physical confrontation versus words), but that would cost a tremendous amount of money. You would almost have to try to make policing a white-collar job. If I had been one of Garner's arresting officers, I am confident he would have survived the interaction… but yeah as long as you guys are paying 50k annually and then coming out in mobs to call me a murderer for shooting Mr. Sterling, you can take your po-leece job and shove it.

      So… de-escalation training? Spend time practicing situations with questions like "ok cadet, is this the sort of situation where an aggressive physical approach needs to be used, or is this a good candidate situation for a talky approach?"

  7. From Leroy: "I am fine with people like Mr. Sterling being killed by the police".

    It's rare to see a full Lord Farquaad, even in a comment thread. (Some of you May Die, But it's a Sacrifice I am Willing to Make.)

    1. I… don't get it. Are you saying the video doesn't support the officer's claim that he reached for the gun, or are you saying my lack of concern for men who are trying to pull guns on the police is callus? If it is the latter, you got me. I don't care at all about men who try to pull guns on the police, be they black, brown, red or white. Don't give a flying frack, not even one frack, not even once. Never will. I am fine with that same standard being applied to me. Am I supposed to be ashamed of that or something?

      I await and am open to contrary evidence about the activity of Mr. Sterling's right arm, the presence of a gun in his right pocket, etc. It seems to me to all be right there in the second video.

  8. You are wrong. The toy gun was in his waistband, not his hand, and his hand movements might not have been towards anything, might have been towards the gun in his front waistband, and might have been towards his wallet in his back pocket.

    Again, your standards are such that you think police procedures that lead to the death of innocent people are just fine.

  9. Well that is troubling. I really hope he was pulling the thing, otherwise they lied. So the consensus is that he made a rapid move towards his waist, whether he actually produced the pellet gun or not is open to interpretation. Yikes. That is edgy.

    I guess I don't know what I think about the Tamir Rice shooting then.

    However, none of this changes my mind about the Sterling shooting. The only thing that will do that is solid evidence to contradict what I plainly see happening in the video.

    I had forgotten that it wasn't just a replica, it was an actual functional pellet gun that could put someone's eye out. He was running around the park pointing that at people? Dear god, Where are the parents in this? What a catastrophe.

    1. I think your attitude is pretty well summed up by, "I really hope he was pulling the thing, otherwise they lied." You desperately want there to be something, anything, that would allow the police to justify killing a 12-year old kid with a toy gun. This furthers my belief that, when watching the Alton Sterling video, you are not watching it objectively, but rather trying to make what is there fit your preconceived biases.

      1. When your opponent is open to your evidence and expresses hope that the world is better rather than worse, you escalate? Interesting.

        Of course I hope there is something that justifies it, you should hope the same thing. We live in one of two worlds, either 1) the cops lied and got away with it, or 2) they told the truth and were much more justified than they would be in world 1. Why would you not hope we live in world 2 instead of world 1? My hope that they aren't liars who got away with lying shows that I am biased? Sir, that is nonsense.

        Your assumption is incorrect. My only intent in watching the video was to discover the truth. After my first viewing, I thought it was a bad shoot. On my second viewing, I noticed some strange action in Mr. Sterling's shoulder and elbow, and realized that it was on the same side as the pocket that the gun later comes out of. By the time I had finished my 5th viewing and gone through it frame by frame, I had become convinced that he was disputing control of his right arm with the officer.

        That was the process. Why don't you try it yourself? Find the bluelivesmatter link below, ignore the obviously biased commentary, and merely look at the still frames. The right arm is in play. The right pocket is where the gun is. They knew the gun was there, they warned him in language any American understands "He Has A GUN! IF YOU MOVE I SWEAR TO GOD" That annoying truism has a place here: It simply is what it is.

        See Adam's comment here: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=75975699

        Skip the commentary and look at the 3 still frames here: http://bluelivesmatter.blue/second-alton-sterling

        1. I give up. When someone can, in the same paragraph, claim that they have a strongly preferred version of events and claim that it is nonsense to think that they are biased when looking at those events, there's not much left to say.

          1. No, I am saying I would prefer it BECAUSE they walked, not because they are police. If they had gone to prison, I would have hoped that they were lying. My hope is that the criminal justice system did not miscarry. Again, you should hope the same thing.

            Likewise, if the officers in the Sterling case go to prison, I will hope that they lied and he went limp (although the video sure does seem to show the opposite). If they walk, I will hope that they are telling the truth.

          2. What I would prefer is that a 12-year old boy not be dead. What I know is that he is dead, and that he is dead because a 911 dispatcher failed to communicate the most important information from the call he received. And I know that he is dead because the two officers that received that incorrect information used inexcusable tactics, whatever the information was, and generated a completely needless conflict. I know that he is dead because an officer lied on his report that he had given instructions to freeze, which we know is false because the car windows were rolled up and there is no way Tamir Rice could have heard him more than a second and a half before he pulled the trigger. I know that he is dead because that same police officer lied again on his report when he claimed that he had provided first aid to the boy he had just shot, which we know is not true because the security camera not only shows him doing no such thing, it also shows that he restrained and handcuffed Rice's sister when she tried to get to him to aid.

            I already know that there has been a miscarriage of justice, whether Tamir Rice ever managed to draw his toy gun or not, though the video doesn't actually show him doing so. If the cops weren't indicted for homicide, they should at least have been prosecuted for perjury for filing the false report. I don't know whether the prosecutor failed to prosecute them because he is a coward, or because he is in the pocket of the police, but he was grossly derelict in his duties either way, and did nothing whatsoever to dispel the idea that cops can kill innocent people, either through malice or incompetence, and face no legal sanctions.

            Closing my eyes and hoping that the cops were at least right about one thing wouldn't convince me that the justice system didn't miscarry. Anyone who has looked at the case and can hope that it would is so deficient in empathy that I can't really fathom it, and I'm the guy with autism.

          3. Everyone would prefer that the 12-year old boy would not be dead. One would have thought that would be obvious. As you say, we both know that he is dead. Neither of us know if he grabbed the pellet gun; if he did, it wouldn't simply be "the cops were right about one thing." It would be the most important thing one could know about the situation, except of course for the obvious overriding truth of death.

            I had never read anything about any controversy surrounding first aid, or any demonstration that the shooter lied in his report. If the made a false report, they should have been prosecuted. I watched the video a couple of times, and was nonplussed by Rice's movements, surprised that he was walking around a park aiming a pellet gun at people, horrified at the outcome, etc. I thought the most likely explanation, given the suddenness of his move for the waistband area, that he was reaching towards it. Nothing else would make sense, and I can vividly remember pointing silly looking pink plastic guns at people through windows when I was 8. It would explain why the officer shot him. As I have already said, I was wrong about the video establishing anything more than the reach.

            As I've said, I am not sure what to think of the Tamir Rice shooting anymore. Thank you for correcting me on reach vs. grab.

            Back to the topic: I still don't understand the comparison to Sterling. Like I have said and you haven't addressed, the time frame of that encounter is much, much longer. Sterling had time to hear their commands and refuse to obey them. To assume that Mr. Sterling didn't understand the severity of the situation he was in (and that, if he let it play out, he was going back to prison) is to reduce him to some sort of meatwagon. You don't have to be a genius to understand that when an felon with an illegal gun sees the police, he is only thinking about one thing. He was not a child. He was not sitting at a table in the middle of a wide open space that you could look at with binoculars from 3 blocks away. It was not a pellet gun. Why are these two cases linked in your mind?

            Pointing to the Tamir Rice shooting doesn't prove that it is never good for police to rapidly confront suspects; it only proves that rapid confrontation doesn't always work. I don't think anyone would argue that rapid confrontation always brings about the best possible outcome; but that doesn't mean that one case or handful of cases proves the opposite.

            The police had every right to detain Mr. Sterling, and unlike Tamir, Mr. Sterling knew the score and had time to understand. That difference dooms the comparison. Mr. Sterling was not shocked by the sudden appearance of a rapidly dismounting policeman right in front of him; he was in the process of losing an entire physical confrontation with the police complete with disobeyed lawful orders, a taser attempt, a tackle, a struggle, a warning of impending lethal force, and so on and so on.

            I await and am open to contrary evidence. Otherwise, I just do not understand.

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