Accommodating Abuse: Critics of Police Abuse Critics Practice Defiant Denial
by Linn Washington Jr. - This Can't Be HappeningOver 1,500 miles separate Harris County, Texas and Harrison Township, New Jersey yet public officials in those two jurisdictions seemingly share a similar disdain for persons who protest against abuse by police.
Recently Ron Hickman, the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, blasted the Black Lives Matters movement blaming that surging anti-abuse entity for being an impetus for the brutal murder of a Harris County deputy.
Hickman readily acknowledged that he didn’t have all of the facts surrounding the murder of Deputy Darren Goforth, particularly the motive for that murder. However, that lack of facts didn’t stop Hickman from his hair-trigger blast of Black Lives Matters for that murder committed by a man known to have a long history of mental illness who had no involvement with Black Lives Matter.
Earlier this year, the five-member governing Committee of Harrison Township, NJ approved a resolution “Recognizing and Honoring” the service of law enforcement officers. But that resolution was fraught with false facts like the assertion that most critics of police brutality are “career criminals and agitators who seek to divide our nation…”
Curiously overlook by the authors and endorsers of that Harrison Township resolution is the fact that the overwhelming majority of persons who participate in anti-brutality protests are law-abiding citizens opposed to lawlessness by law enforcers. Persons that have led anti-brutality protests in South Jersey communities near Harrison Township have been respected members of the clergy and prominent community leaders, not the “career criminals” referenced in that resolution approved on February 2, 2015.
Although the Black Lives Matters movement certainly is not beyond criticism, it is disingenuous to pillory that social justice protest as an initiator of attacks on police.
‘Calling Out’ police abuse is not the same as issuance of a call to attack police. Black Lives Matter does ‘call out’ the repeated failures across America to corral police brutality but it does not call upon people to attack police.
That Harrison Township resolution pointedly condemned the news media for having “perpetuated false narratives” that made law enforcement targets of reprisals inclusive of “the assassination of a number of law enforcement officers throughout the country in recent weeks.”
The Officer Down Memorial Page website listed only one death of a police officer due to gunfire during the ‘recent weeks’ that covered the entire month of January 2015. And, the Memorial Page listed that one death as “accidental.”
Tabloid news media often receives criticism for its practice of fudging facts to create a ‘good story.’ Apparently that tabloid practice is the fact challenged approach employed by those officials in Harrison Township, a semi-rural area of farms and many upscale housing developments located 25-miles southeast of Philadelphia.
The Officer Down Memorial Page website did list four police officers killed by gunfire in December 2014.
A man with a history of mental illness who claimed he was reacting to the fatal shooting of a black teen in Ferguson, Missouri by a white policeman killed two policemen in New York City. The cop killers in the two other December 2014 fatal shootings were a fugitive seeking to escape a return to prison and a man involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.
None of the three men responsible for those fatal shootings of police last December had any involvement with Black Lives Matter or any history of engagement with social justice protests. However, New York City police union officials along with their confederates in political office and the press immediately tarred the Black Lives Matters movement and other civil rights leaders as having blood-on-their-hands for backing anti-brutality protests.
Many see hypocrisy in that fact that most of those now castigating anti-brutality initiatives, like Black Lives Matters, have been historically silent on abuses by police.
Police brutality is a long-standing scourge that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. criticized twice during his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech delivered in August 1963. One of the few police departments detailed for excessive brutality in the October 1981 “Who Is Guarding The Guardians?” report issued by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission was Houston, the largest city in Harris County, Texas.
Ron Hickman, the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, proclaimed “dangerous rhetoric” against police has “gotten out of control.”
Hickman said the “general climate” of the rhetoric generated by the Black Lives Matters “can be influential on people” to kill police.
Hickman had a different stance on cause-&-effect earlier this year. A cellphone video captured two of Hickman’s deputies cursing and abusing their authority during a traffic stop. But Hickman made no comments about abusive police culture comparable to his attack on Black Lives Matter.
If “all lives matter [and] cops’ lives matter, too,” as Hickman and others contend, then there would be no impetus for Black Lives Matters. That movement sprang up because the police killing of non-whites, particularly blacks, historically has received short shrift across American society.
A report on abusive misconduct by police issued by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in November 2000 stated, “People of color, women and the poor are groups of Americans that seem to bear the brunt of the [police] abuse which compounds the other injustices that they may suffer as a result of discrimination…”
That 2000 report, following up on the Civil Rights Commission’s 1981 police brutality report, noted that reports of police brutality, harassment and misconduct “continue to spread throughout the country.”
In 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a report on widespread human rights violations in the United States that included criticism of racial profiling by police and “excessive use of force” by law enforcement personnel. America’s body politic brushed off that UN Human Rights report as it has reports by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
That 2000 Civil Rights Commission report declared, “Police brutality tears violently at the fabric of our nation, leaving in its aftermath a distrustful and divided community.”
That U.S. Civil Rights Commission declaration is a reality that those who castigate critics of police abuse rarely recognize.