Thursday, July 30, 2015

Still Killing Citizens: The Death of Sam Dubose

A University of Cincinnati cop has been indicted for murder. He killed an unarmed black citizen named Sam Dubose, whom he had initially stopped over a minor traffic issue: no front license plate. Why are we still doing this?

We've heard this story before. A ridiculously minor offense, the kind of thing that cops routinely let go, escalates into homicide when a cop kills a black citizen who has no weapon. After Eric Garner and Mike Brown, after Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland and Walter Scott, we are still doing this. Why?

The facts in evidence in the Cincinnati case are appalling. The killer was wearing a body camera. His police report is flatly refuted by the video from that camera. A number of other police officers made sworn statements, backing up the killer, that are also flatly contradicted by the video evidence. All of that is a disgrace. But even more shocking than what they did is when they did it.

After Ferguson, after Baltimore, after Tamir Rice and Walter Scott, after months and months of protests against police killing black citizens, and after months and months of increasingly less plausible denials of the problem, these cops went out in the second half of July 2015 and did EXACTLY what apologists for the police have been telling protestors cops don't do. A cop escalates a chicken-shit traffic stop over a license plate into a homicide, for no perceptible reason. His fellow cops lie and perjure themselves to back him. We are still doing this. Apparently, some of us insist on doing this.

Protest and conscious-raising have not been enough. There are still some cops out there, people who should never have been police for even a minute, who do not see killing unarmed black people as a problem. Attention to the issue has not made such people more cautious; Sam Dubose's killer is unbelievably reckless. Watch the tape. Attention to the issue has not dissuaded some cops, sworn peace officers, from this terrible crime against peace and justice.

Our national conversation about race and policing is not working, because some people, some actual cops, are refusing to accept that conversation. They are not willing to stop killing unarmed civilians. It is, apparently, a privilege they insist on.

There is nothing left to be done but to apply the full force of the law. We are still doing this, because some people refuse to stop doing this, refuse even to have an honest conversation about this. It is time to stop talking. It is time to put some people, as many people as insist upon it, in jail.

cross-posted from, and comments welcome at, Dagblog

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