Aaron Mesh: Mass Shooting Kills 18-Year-Old Woman Near Downtown Portland Food Carts (Willamette Week)
I'm having a hard time coping with this.
A mass shooting in downtown Portland, shortly before last call on Saturday morning, killed an 18-year-old woman and injured six others near a line of food carts in what police described as “an extremely chaotic scene.”
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the killing, along with another fatal shooting four hours later in the Parkrose neighborhood, in deep Northeast Portland, marked the city’s 50th and 51st homicides of the year. Portland saw 55 homicides in 2020, a 26-year record but one on pace to be broken by the end of July.
As of July 6, the city had seen 579 shooting incidents in 2021—more than double the number at that time in 2020. For months, city leaders have bitterly debated whether to increase staffing for a police force that saw its budget trimmed amid racial justice protests last year and is dogged by repeated allegations of excessive force.
It occurred three blocks south of Ankeny Alley, the center of an Old Town nightlife district where dance clubs are once again packed to capacity after pandemic shutdowns. That “entertainment district,” which was once fenced off and surrounded by police squad cars on weekend nights, now sees a sparse police presence, despite what club security services describe as a gang war occurring near the queues for their venues.
Asked by WW why police presence in the Old Town entertainment district was scant, Lovell said those officers were reassigned after COVID shutdowns reduced nightlife, and implied that the bureau was still learning that the clubs were again drawing crowds.
In this regard the answer to the question of “is this copaganda?” is yes, because an idealized symbiosis of white femininity and carceral power is basically the happy ending that American mass culture wants all of us to hope for. (That the chief of police is one of several framing Black characters only adds to the white carceral feminist fantasy, in that the show aggressively separates the police from white masculinity’s dangers.) But that “yes” comes with ambivalence, because this show is inside of white femininity deep enough to recognize white femininity, much like a police station, as a grim and dangerous place. But in a world where whiteness and carcerality have a lock on power — which, just saying, is not the only world we could imagine — that grim danger might feel, to the lucky some, the safest place available.
What all this has to do with copaganda is that, by casting Kate, Mare of Easttown is making a particular offer to viewers like me: white women who have matured (Kate Winslet is exactly my age) watching Kate Winslet navigate the disciplining power of the American beauty economy. It is a particular offer about our abilities, ourselves, to seize police power to do our bidding. Kate Winslet is not Cameron Diaz, just like I am not. So maybe I could be her, no matter the status of my disciplinary body shit. Maybe I could be beautiful, maybe I could be worth saving. Maybe I could be the special version of copaganda this show offers, which is where the gap in power between police and white women collapses, and one woman, Mare, or me, holds the weapons of both. Maybe, just as Kate is, I could be the one who could keep the other white women safe.
Mare of Easttown seems, at its end, to be heading into its own attic. Its ambivalent relationship to the story of police and white femininity it tells manifests in how it offers up the future — as a choice between two kinds of storytelling. There’s the male one Ryan will produce, one connected to Richard’s novel, apparently called May’s Landing, which looks to me a lot like the kind of prestige women-suffering fiction that Mare of Easttown also is. Against that, it offers the one Siobhan will produce, somewhere off-stage. When Siobhan drives away, this is one white woman, the show wants us to believe, who has truly been protected by her mother, the police. She’s been guided into a different story, to learn how to tell a different story.
Jonathan Levinson: Police in Oregon are searching cellphones daily and straining civil rights (OPB)
Over the past decade, MDFT use has quickly proliferated across the country. Records obtained by OPB show the Portland Police Bureau adopted the technology as early as October 2014 and has invested at least $270,629.96, outspending significantly larger departments.
By contrast, since 2015, the similarly-sized Seattle police department has spent at least $240,837 on MDFTs. The Houston police department, with five times more officers than PPB, has spent at least $210,255, and the Los Angeles police department spent around $358,426 despite being almost 10 times the size of the Portland police.
Warrants reviewed by OPB going back to 2018 show PPB searching phones to investigate a wide array of crimes ranging from attempted murder, bank fraud and robbery to lower level crimes like bike theft. And for years, the bureau was conducting digital searches with no policies in place regulating the practice.
“People, when faced with authority figures in particular, are very likely to agree to whatever they’re asked to do,” he said. “I don’t think people understand how extracting works ... but on the other hand, I’m not entirely convinced that they wouldn’t consent even if they did just because people consent to all sorts of police invasions of their privacy without a second thought in order to acquiesce to their authority.”
Blair Stenvick: Portland Police Say They're Needed to Prevent Gun Violence. Experts Disagree. (Portland Mercury)
Portland met a dire record last month: With 15 homicides over a 31-day period, July contained the highest number of homicides the city had recorded in a single month for over 30 years. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) also reported 99 shootings in July—about three times the number of shootings recorded in July 2019.
The jump in shootings and homicides came shortly after Mayor Ted Wheeler disbanded PPB’s Gun Violence Reduction Team (GVRT), a group of officers focused on investigating all instances of gun violence in Portland. The unit had faced scrutiny from Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and other police reform advocates for years for disproportionately pulling over Black drivers and keeping a list of suspected “criminal gang affiliates” that allowed police to surveil young men of color. Wheeler, who also serves as Portland’s police commissioner, decided to disband the unit in June, amid ongoing mass protests against police brutality and racial injustice in Portland.
Mark Leymon, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Portland State University (PSU), told the Mercury that there’s “absolutely no evidence” that the recent disbanding of GVRT contributed to July’s numbers. When asked what the likely cause was, Leymon cautioned it’s “too early to tell” whether July’s numbers qualify as a sustained spike in violent crime.But, he said, “The single most predictive measure of criminal activity is the economy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused record unemployment numbers in Oregon—and as Brian Renauer, the director of PSU’s Criminal Justice Policy Research Institute, pointed out, economic anxiety was “already there” for Portlanders who never recovered from the 2008 Great Recession.
“It was already impacting certain areas and geographies of the city for a number of years,” Renauer said. “There are places and families that have never recovered from a prior economic crisis.”
Heaped on top of economic anxiety is the stress and trauma caused by simply living through an unprecedented pandemic, Leymon said. Leymon used an analogy of a glass of water, explaining that each person has “an emotional glass that can handle a certain amount of emotion.” Many people’s glass is already nearly full because of the pandemic, meaning it doesn’t take much for them to tip over and resort to violence.
“Our emotional stress glass has water in it up to a certain base, so it’s very easy to spill over,” he said. “The spillover is when criminal activity happens… People are more likely to snap or make poor decisions when they’re stressed.”
In addition to citing the dissolution of the GVRT, PPB officials have blamed the protests against police brutality as contributing to the spike in shootings. At a recent press conference, Lovell called the protests a “drain on resources” that kept police from focusing on crime prevention and response.
Leymon calls that reasoning “disingenuous.”
“They like to say that every day—that police are out there preventing crime,” he said. “But police don’t prevent crime, especially in Portland. Portland’s policing system is a responsive system…They’re not really doing any proactive work, they’re just there in the neighborhood. The most they can do is be a deterrent, and deterrents just aren’t very effective.”
However, Leymon said there may be an indirect link between protests and an increase in violent crime.
“You could argue that the current protests are societal stress, so that increases criminal activity,” he said. “There’s probably some truth to that. But... people of color and other marginalized communities have been feeling that stress for [hundreds of years]. It isn’t like the stress those people feel hasn’t been existing prior to the protests. It’s just, suddenly, a bunch of white people have noticed.”
Jeremy Stahl: Kenosha Police Chief Blames Protesters for Their Own Deaths, Defends Vigilante Groups (Slate)
In describing the shooting of two protesters, Miskinis also declined to call it a homicide and instead referred to it by various euphemisms often used to describe killings by a police officer, which Rittenhouse is not. He said that the shooter “was involved in the use of firearms to resolve whatever conflict was in place” and that there was a “disturbance that led to the use of deadly force.”
Additionally, Miskinis refused to comment on the video of Blake’s shooting, but offered that there may have been a reasonable explanation for the man being shot seven times in the back, which has reportedly left him paralyzed and in critical condition. (The officer has been put on administrative leave and has not been fired or arrested.)
Miskinis’ views of the gathering of vigilante groups that reportedly led to the killing of two local men appears to be very much in line with those of his department. Before the shooting, officers in armored vehicles could be seen giving water to armed men gathered with the alleged shooter and telling them, “We appreciate you guys, we really do.” After the killings, the alleged shooter walked slowly past a series of police vehicles with his arms raised and was allowed to simply walk away. (It’s not yet clear what the officers knew about the shooting at the time, but the shots were audible in nearby footage.)
Sam Levin: White supremacists and militias have infiltrated police across US, report says (The Guardian)
A former FBI agent has documented links between serving officers and racist militant activities in more than a dozen states
Michael German, a former FBI special agent who has written extensively on the ways that US law enforcement have failed to respond to far-right domestic terror threats, concludes that US law enforcement officials have been tied to racist militant activities in more than a dozen states since 2000, and hundreds of police officers have been caught posting racist and bigoted social media content.
Activists in Kenosha say police there have responded aggressively and violently to Black Lives Matter demonstrators, while doing little to stop armed white vigilantes. Supporting their claims is at least one video taken before the shooting that showed police tossing bottled water to what appeared to be armed civilians, including one who appeared to be the shooter, the AP noted: “We appreciate you being here,” an officer said on loudspeaker.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have directly identified white supremacists as the most lethal domestic terrorist threat in the country. According to German’s report, the FBI’s own internal documents have directly warned that the militia groups the agency is investigating often have “active links” to law enforcement.
And yet US agencies lack a national strategy to identify white supremacist police and root out this problem, German warned. Meanwhile, popular police reform efforts to address “implicit bias” have done nothing to confront explicit racism.
Alex Zielinski: Wheeler Responds to Police Inaction During Saturday Brawl (Portland Mercury)
On Saturday night, a member of the public (who asked the Mercury to remain anonymous) sent an email to Wheeler, sharing their concerns about PPB's response to the daytime protest. The person wrote that officers' inaction was particularly upsetting to see when contrasted with PPB's routinely aggressive response to nightly demonstrations against police brutality.
An hour later, Wheeler responded.
"For days you’ve been telling me that PPB's response has been overbearing. So last night and tonight they tried something different, and you’re demanding more of a police presence? Do you see how there is a no-win situation here? What, specifically, would you expect them to do? Have 30 officers charge into a crowd of 300 people, many of them armed? Would you do that? Would you ask other people to do that? I’m not shading you, these are serious questions. What specifically would you do? I am honestly interested."
Staff have confirmed this email was sent by Wheeler. While the message was not meant to be a formal public statement, Wheeler's quick reaction offers a different story—one of frustration and genuine exhaustion surrounding the public's demands.
Rebecca Ellis: Portland’s protests: 3 months in, no end in sight (OPB)
Mayor Ted Wheeler says the city is "considering all options” to end nightly clashes between police, protesters, but he lacks a clear plan.
The worst nights follow the same script: A large group takes to the streets calling for an end to police violence and systemic racism. A small fraction commits low-level crimes — often lighting small fires, graffiti-ing buildings and throwing fireworks or water bottles at officers. The police respond with force against the entire crowd.
Over the last month, demonstrators have been battered with batons as they left protests. Police have charged at crowds until they’re pushed deep into residential neighborhoods. Journalists have been shoved and arrested. Tear gas, while used more sparingly than in the early days of the protests, is threatened near nightly. And police regularly shut down protests by declaring them riots. That happened twice over the weekend, though police declined to intervene as far-right activists, some brandishing firearms, brawled with counter-protesters for hours on Saturday afternoon.
“They’ve tried everything from not showing up to preemptively dispersing crowds, and some of those strategies, in my opinion, have worked well. Others have not worked well,” he said. “My expectation is the police bureau will evolve, and as they see a need for change, they’ll change.”
There are serious questions, however, over whether the city’s police oversight agency, which many including the mayor have called toothless, will be able to sort through the mounting reports of police violence. The office has been flooded by complaints since protests began. The director says they’ve received more than a year’s worth of new work.
Meanwhile, Hardesty has proposed an entirely new accountability system, which voters will weigh in on in November. If passed, the ballot measure would scrap the review agency completely and create a system with more independence and new powers.
Zipporah Osei, Mollie Simon, Moiz Syed, Lucas Waldron: We Are Tracking What Happens to Police After They Use Force on Protestors (ProPublica)
These 68 videos show clear apparent instances of police officers escalating violence during protests. Most departments refused to share details about investigations and discipline or even officers’ names. Here’s what we learned about each case.
Rebecca Solnit: As the George Floyd protests continue, let's be clear where the violence is coming from (Guardian)
Using damage to property as cover, US police have meted out shocking, indiscriminate brutality in the wake of the uprising.
The distinction between damaging or destroying human beings and inanimate objects matters. But it’s not simple. People trapped inside a burning building break down the doors to escape; an estranged husband with a restraining order breaks down a door to further terrorise his ex-wife. The same actions mean different things in different situations. Martin Luther King famously called riots “the voice of the unheard” – and as the outcry of people who have tried absolutely everything else for centuries, property damage means something very different from merely malicious or recreational destruction. When they riot, the black people most impacted by police brutality and by four centuries of poverty, dehumanisation and deprivation of basic rights and equality, are more like people trapped inside that burning house trying to break out.
There is no easy way to distinguish between ardent white supporters of a black uprising and black bloc-style white people who revel in property destruction, taunting the police and escalating situations (before often slipping away before the police crack down). They are anti-authoritarians opposed to police brutality and the overreach of the state, and should not be confused with the rightwing authoritarians who many fear will use the pandemonium as cover for their own agenda, which could include creating more chaos.
The story of activist violence is often used to justify police violence, but damage to property is not a justification for wholesale violence against children, passersby, journalists, protesters, or anyone at all. It is the police who should have lost their legitimacy, over and over, after the many individual killings from Eric Garner to Walter Scott to Breonna Taylor to George Floyd. And after reckless, entitled, out-of-control violence in police riots like that on Saturday night. Perhaps the point of their action this week is that they don’t need legitimacy, just power.
There’s one more kind of violence to talk about, and that’s structural violence. That’s the way that institutions and societies are organised to oppress a group of people, and for black Americans, that’s included slavery, the long terrorism of Jim Crow and lynching, voter suppression from the 19th century to the present, redlining (denying or charging more for necessary services) and subprime mortgages, discrimination in housing, education, and employment and far more.
Right now, several forms of structural violence that particularly matter are the chronic stress and lack of access to healthcare, housing issues, and work situations that have made black Americans die of Covid-19 at far higher rates than other races.
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Ryan Haas, Sergio Olmos, Bradley W. Parks: Protesters fight using pepper spray, baseball bats in Portland on Saturday (OPB)
Protesters at Portland rallies to support police and show support for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign engaged in physical combat repeatedly with counterprotesters Saturday without police intervention. Members of the chaotic crowd used an array of weapons, including baseball bats and firearms to beat and threaten those they opposed.
Police said they did not declare a riot because they didn’t have the resources to handle one. After pro-Trump demonstrators left and counterprotesters returned to Terry Schrunk Plaza, federal officials declared an unlawful assembly.
Tamara K. Nopper: Abolition is Not a Suburb (The New Inquiry)
If anything, what Ocasio-Cortez is actually describing is the way that affluence and whiteness provide these communities the means to avoid consistent targeting by the police, to ignore laws, or to evade punishment. To be able to be the target of less policing, as well as to hire attorneys and use money and networks when accused, is a thing that white affluence provides — an affluence tied up in and made possible by the racist-classist financial infrastructure concealed by the suggestion that affluent, white suburbanites just have different budgeting priorities. In cases where harm might be perpetrated, using one’s resources in terms of money and connections to avoid criminalization and incarceration can be more an evasion of accountability than abolition.
I would never confuse captivity with the privacy, money, and racial status shielding an affluent, white suburbanite. But a shared dimension is that each approach tries to make people, when they have committed harm, be disappeared from public view and consciousness while the structural roots of harm go unaddressed and society operates as normal. Again, abolition involves figuring out what nonpunitive accountability looks like in public. Affluent, white suburbanites being shielded from the violence of carceral systems while others are not offered the same opportunity is not a model of abolition. It is just an expression of relative power and racism.
The racist double standard Ocasio-Cortez speaks of is not simply an issue of different budget priorities or treatment. The disparity in punishment is relational. When it happens, the different treatment of white people — even when they are found guilty — involves rescuing them from forms of carceral control and violent punishment deemed racially appropriate for others.
This is not a call for parity in punishment. An abolitionist project would never consider this justice, since punishment itself is at the heart of carcerality, and equal punishment means Black people — who, as Jared Sexton notes, are the “prototypical targets of the panoply of police practices and the juridical infrastructure” — will never be free. But what we get from the affluent, white suburb is less a model of abolition and more an evasion of accountability, which can rely on racialized tropes of innocence to avoid punishment — which only enforces carcerality against those who serve as the raced specter of criminality.
While discussing abolition during the Rising Majority panel, Ocasio-Cortez proclaimed, “And to say, you know, we not actually wanting anything different, the world that we’re fighting for already exists, it just exists for some people, and we want it to exist for all of us.” The world that already exists, according to Ocasio-Cortez, is the affluent, white suburb. Yet these suburbs are part of a spatialized racial-class design in which capitalism and anti-Blackness structure public finance. Affluent, white suburbanites may seek protection for their children in ways that legitimate carcerality for others who serve as the specter of criminality and “deserving” harsh punishment, and often use their money, power, influence, and racial status to evade accountability for real harms they commit. Taken together, this cannot be what abolition looks like. While we are told the suburb gives us a model of the world we’re fighting for, looking to the affluent, white suburb for quick inspiration can only work if we ignore the logic and design of racial capitalism and carcerality we seek to undo. Ultimately, the suburban frame, even when employed with the best intentions, works against what is required of abolition. As Ruth Wilson Gilmore tells us, “Abolition requires that we change one thing: everything.”
Mariame Kaba: Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police (NYT)
Because reform won’t happen.
Congressional Democrats want to make it easier to identify and prosecute police misconduct; Joe Biden wants to give police departments $300 million. But efforts to solve police violence through liberal reforms like these have failed for nearly a century.
Enough. We can’t reform the police. The only way to diminish police violence is to reduce contact between the public and the police.
There is not a single era in United States history in which the police were not a force of violence against black people. Policing in the South emerged from the slave patrols in the 1700 and 1800s that caught and returned runaway slaves. In the North, the first municipal police departments in the mid-1800s helped quash labor strikes and riots against the rich. Everywhere, they have suppressed marginalized populations to protect the status quo.
Why on earth would we think the same reforms would work now? We need to change our demands. The surest way of reducing police violence is to reduce the power of the police, by cutting budgets and the number of officers.
We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained “community care workers” could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.
When people, especially white people, consider a world without the police, they envision a society as violent as our current one, merely without law enforcement — and they shudder. As a society, we have been so indoctrinated with the idea that we solve problems by policing and caging people that many cannot imagine anything other than prisons and the police as solutions to violence and harm.
People like me who want to abolish prisons and police, however, have a vision of a different society, built on cooperation instead of individualism, on mutual aid instead of self-preservation. What would the country look like if it had billions of extra dollars to spend on housing, food and education for all? This change in society wouldn’t happen immediately, but the protests show that many people are ready to embrace a different vision of safety and justice.
Alex Zielinski: Hall Monitor: Fair Weather Wheeler (Portland Mercury)
Now that the federal police have retreated from the front lines of Portland’s nightly demonstrations, Mayor Ted Wheeler has returned to demonizing those protesting police brutality.
"This is not advocacy to reform or transform any system," said Wheeler, speaking at a Thursday news conference, where he condemned the previous night’s protest outside the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) East Precinct, claiming that the demonstrations are no longer about racial justice and police accountability.
“The conversation we are having right now is keeping us from the important work of racial justice, equity and comprehensive and thoughtful reform,” Wheeler said about the protests.
Yet it was just two weeks ago that Wheeler stood among the same group of protesters, inhaling plumes of tear gas and decrying the actions of federal police outside the city’s federal courthouse. It appears that defending his citizens from police brutality is only a priority when it’s not his own police force swinging batons at nonviolent protesters.
When camouflaged federal officers shot tear gas and impact munitions at Portlanders, Wheeler quickly severed PPB’s ties with federal law enforcement agencies and went on national TV shows to decry the feds’ “unconstitutional” tactics, and applaud his city’s uprising against police violence.
But now that the nation’s attention has shifted away from Portland, Wheeler’s back to trusting law enforcement’s incendiary narrative about these demonstrations without considering the experiences of protesters and observers on the ground.
Wheeler instead used his platform Thursday to elevate the voices of police officers, city staff who believe their exhaustion from working months of protests is a bigger concern than the public’s right to oppose their years of disproportionate abuse against people of color.
“We’re protesting to defund the police and invest in the community,” said Hester, whose voice is raspy from leading nightly protest chants. “And we haven’t seen that yet. It’s pretty simple, this isn’t over until we achieve that.”
Wheeler mentioned Trump’s campaign tactics Thursday, but he didn’t mention another re-election campaign headed to the November ballot: His own. Like Trump, Wheeler is using these protests as a way to gain political points, not an opportunity to question if the reforms he’s comfortable with are what
Portlanders are actually asking for.
Each morning, Wheeler receives a briefing from PPB leadership about the previous nights’ protests, which inform his understanding of a movement meant to dismantle the police force. He’d do well to start giving the same type of attention to the people calling for change.
Since 2015, The Post has created a database cataloging every fatal shooting nationwide by a police officer in the line of duty.
Although half of the people shot and killed by police are white, black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.
Elliott Young: Trump just adding fuel to fire set by Portland’s Democratic leaders (Houston Chronicle)
It’s not just protesters who are getting abused by the Portland police. The Department of Justice entered into a settlement agreement with the city in 2014 because of its unconstitutional policing of people with mental illness, including the beating to death in custody of James Chasse. Last year, 60 percent of the people killed by the Portland police were suffering a mental health crisis. Half of arrests and half of use-of-force incidents in the past few years are of homeless people. And Black Portlanders continue to be subject to traffic stops and searches at wildly disproportionate rates.
So, when the mayor of Portland poses as the leader of the Resistance, it causes us to pause. While we do oppose federal agents in our streets, the real danger we have been facing in Portland since long before Trump’s election has been the local police.
Many of those arrested were volunteers working with Riot Ribs, a barbecue tent that has been serving up free food to anyone who asks since the Fourth of July. From the sidewalk of SW Salmon, the volunteers who avoided arrest watched the blue awning of their stand collapsed by government contractors, still within the boundaries of Lownsdale Square Park. The volunteers hadn't been able to grab anything associated with the stand, including a large stainless steel grille they'd received the night before from Pok Pok, and thousands of dollars worth of food donations that they'd planned on feeding to hungry people.
Jonathan Levinson and Conrad Wilson: Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles To Grab Protesters Off Portland Streets (OPB)
Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.
The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.
Alex Zielinski: Hall Monitor: Crossing the Line (Portland Mercury)
Yet Wheeler has been clear—and honest—about one thing.
“Portland continues to be used as a staging ground for violence night after night,” he said Sunday. “This is causing unprecedented harm to our communities, livelihoods, and Portlanders continue to fear for their safety.”
But it’s time Wheeler acknowledges who is truly bringing this violence into our community: Unarmed 20-somethings in black hoodies, or heavily armed law enforcement prepared for war.
Cat Zhang: How the Viral Protest Anthem “Lose Yo Job” Came to Be (Pitchfork)
If all I said was “suck my dick,” you can’t arrest me for that. Before the video even started, I asked him for like five minutes what the reason for handcuffing me was. So I was like: “You can’t hear me? Then I’m going to sing it to you.” The words just came. And I already know, if this went to your supervisor, [sings] you about to lose your job. I know my rights and I know the law.
Joe Pinsker: America Is Already Different Than It Was Two Weeks Ago (The Atlantic)
Though it remains to be seen whether these changes will be catalytic or merely cosmetic in fighting institutional racism and police violence, the swiftness of their accumulation has been remarkable—and demonstrates how quickly changes can be made when those in power have the will to make them.
Samuel Sinyangwe: Stop Pretending the “Ferguson Effect” is Real
If police can’t do their jobs without violating the constitutional rights of black people, then we must question the institution of policing rather than the protesters who expose its transgressions.
In the end, the “Ferguson Effect” lacks factual basis. It took months of nationwide unrest, a litany of shocking videos and detailed reports of police violence to convince the nation that policing in America needed to be fundamentally changed. The fact that a theory lacking evidentiary support could be so hastily endorsed by some of the nation’s foremost institutions speaks to the enduring power of the belief that aggressive policing is the only way to keep black communities safe. This notion, applied exclusively to black communities, is exactly what needs to change.
Dan Solomon: On 'Contempt of Cop,' Jailhouse Suicide, and Sandra Bland (Texas Monthly)
Every time we write about an encounter that portrays the police in a negative light — the death of Bland, or the McKinney pool party, or police in Austin pepper spraying and snatching property out of citizen hands for no visible reason — we receive comments from readers who want to know why we don’t spend more time writing about the good things that the police do, or why we aren’t writing about when police are killed in the line of duty.
The reason for that is simple: Because when an officer like Brian T. Encinia, or Eric Casebolt, or any other person we entrust with a badge and a gun abuses his authority, he’s doing so in our name, on our dime. When a police encounter ends with Sandra Bland dead or teenagers abused, we all bear some culpability for it, because we paid them to do it. And as long as we talk about bad-apple police, or how refusing to comply with police orders with a smile on your faces means that you bear some responsibility for whatever the police do to you afterward, we’re endorsing that system.
The death of a police officer at the hands of a criminal is a tragedy, but it’s one that has a clear and simple villain: The person who pulled the trigger. The death of Sandra Bland is a tragedy, too, but the villain there is one it’s a lot less comfortable to identify: It’s all of us who empower a police culture that, as it’s been proven again and again in recent years, does not work for all of the citizens it was created to serve and protect.
Blair L.M. Kelley: A NEW STRANGE FRUIT: Martin's Murder Takes Us Back (EBONY)
When I teach about the history of the segregated South, sometimes my students remark that things are just as bad now as they were then, that conditions for Black Americans are still as bleak for too many. Often my response is that if someone were to hang me or them by that tree in front of the building, someone would come. The law would investigate. Our citizenship would matter in at least that crucial way. This month is challenging that assumption. When Trayvon Martin was murdered for looking "suspicious", killed without any pretense of a trial, the police failed to come.