Over at Afronerd they’re discussing the Queen brutality case. Their ideological line is very far from mine, but I am not interested in that as much as I am interested in what flows from that. How does a moderate conservative ideological perspective alter their conception of this incident?
They note the following:
1) Policing is a stressful, difficult and dangerous job that no sane person wants to do.
2) Police officers (some who are also persons of color) have been killed in the line of duty leaving families (like the victim’s in this case) orphaned and widowed. The key difference is that Sharpton, to my knowledge has not shown up for cases like these.
3) And of course, you do have reprehensible cases of police misconduct and corruption.
And black/Latino communities have to keep in mind the following (some context deleted for space reasons):
1) The police have to discern who has criminal intent in an atmosphere that idolizes rebel behavior thanks to commercial hip hop imagery. Gone are the days when the heroes and villians wore opposing color schemes. Now there are legions of Black and Brown youth, whose fashion sense and mannerisms mimic those comprised of the thug element. Many are not criminals but (a la 50 cent) how is one to tell the difference between a gangsta and a wanksta.
2) Not only do you have a street culture that has risen to mythic proportions but also street ethics that manifest in “stop snitchin'” policies-the ghetto version of the Italian omerta.
3) And lastly, we have a youth culture that unfortunately fulfill the stereotypes that have been ascribed to them. In the Bell case, all three parties had numerous arrests for drug and weapon charges in the past.
- When the writers say “of course there are some reprehensible cases of police misconduct” what do they mean? Are they saying that this is a part of the job? That we should except misconduct as routine? How is this misconduct distributed? Are Manhattan socialites as likely to be the victim of misconduct as Puerto Rican working class men? If not, why not?
- If no sane person would take the job of the police, then are we to believe that the police are in fact, insane?
- The three aspects of black/Latino life they focus on are modern in nature. Is police brutality against communities of color a modern phenomenon?
- Did the police know about Bell’s record before he was shot and killed? Is this why they sought to stop him?
If we don’t take into account the stated purpose of the police, as well as the historical trajectory of their development vis a vis black communities, then it is very easy to take Afronerd’s point of view. But if we take into account the fact that police are paid by our taxes to protect us, then the first viewpoint we should think about are those of the citizens they are supposed to protect. Further if we understand that police misconduct is not a “natural” part of the job, in as much as it is targeted towards certain populations, and that this misconduct is not a modern response to hip-hop, then rather than taking some brutality for granted (and blaming it on hip-hop), we’d likely take a more sensible approach to crime fighting and to police behavior.