(The manslaughter charge against Shelby doesn’t mean much right now anyway in terms of justice. It’s probably only intended to calm things down on the Tulsa streets.—Kurt Hochenauer)
Black Lives Matter March Planned In Tulsa News9 https://t.co/TaRqBZkjWI
— Oklahoma City Now (@TLNOklahomaCity) September 23, 2016
I caution people who want to end social injustice, racism and police brutality in Oklahoma and elsewhere in this country to not immediately think the first-degree manslaughter charge against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby represents something overly significant in the fight for equality.
The charge, now that attorneys are involved, could quickly degenerate into the same cover-up, the same racist story, glossed over with the same political maneuvering by right-wing, racist extremists here and elsewhere. We’ve seen it happen before in this country.
It’s the latest installment of the American historical story we’ve experienced not just since our so-called “video era” vividly and further exposed the contemporary ugly truth of police brutality but also since the scourge of slavery in this country.
Let it be clear it was metaphorically speaking a government-led lynch mob that killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher (other spellings of his first name include Terrance) in Tulsa on Sept. 16, a mob made up of other police officers and, well, the police chief himself because he’s their leader, and the racists here and throughout the country that want them to get away with it. Now the real cover-up begins. Shelby is the officially accused killer, yes, but the other officers around her and the system that produces misplaced anger against black people contributed as much as she did when she pulled the trigger and killed a father of four.
So Shelby is the scapegoat for now, but it’s possible she will get off with nothing more than second guessing about a terrible choice in her life. Will she go to jail? Not likely. Will she be able to continue to work in law enforcement? That’s really more likely than her going to jail.
I’m not the only one thinking this.
Sorry to break it to you, but charging Betty Shelby with the manslaughter of Terence Crutcher won't change anything https://t.co/61eQdYAaLt
— The Independent (@Independent) September 23, 2016
So for anyone living in the bubble of white privilege here in Oklahoma, most of whom are probably not even reading this, here’s how the ‘facts” are emerging. Before I begin, keep in mind whenever an unarmed black man gets killed by white police officers these days in America, which happens on a regular basis, there’s a set of facts presented by officials that conveniently can’t be verified independently by video or any other means.
Here are things the police dash cam video shows, and what we know for sure. I’ll keep it simple. The 40-year-old Crutcher’s car was in the middle of a Tulsa road not moving. He was outside the car. He raised his hands in what only can be seen as gesture of surrender behind the car, and then he started moving to his car, hands still raised. Shelby and other officers approached. He was shot by a stun gun and a police weapon, we later learn. We do see his body is immobile on the ground beside his car and that he’s bleeding from his chest and no one helps him for about two minutes or so.
Later, the Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said Crutcher had no weapon on his body or in his car.
Of course, police and the conservative media here started immediately demonizing Crutcher. He might have been on PCP, which the police claim was found in his car. (Didn’t see that on video, did you?) He had served time in prison. (Didn’t see that on the video, did you?) He was not responding to orders. (Didn’t see that on the video, did you?) He was just a “big, bad dude” as one officer was recorded saying on tape in the incident. Well, the “bad dude” remark was actually recorded.
Here’s the new police motto in this country. Kill. Demonize. Cover it up.
I will for now speculate that the first-degree manslaughter charge, brought by Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, is the start of a typical cover-up. I hope not. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing it’s a major conspiracy on a local level, at least for now. It could be. It wouldn’t surprise me. Sure, it might be openly stated among some of the leading white officials handling the fallout or just a “wink, wink, this is how we’ll handle it until it goes away” move. I also doubt Shelby will suffer any significant punishment for shooting someone to death.
The manslaughter charge against Shelby doesn’t mean much right now in terms of justice. It’s probably only intended to calm things down on the Tulsa streets.
Speaking of the streets, people need to take to them and protest this killing. A march and rally has been scheduled from 2 to 4 p.m. starting at the Center of the Universe at 1 S. Boston Ave in Tulsa. Here’s more information. I was overjoyed to see Oklahoma City Thunder basketball player Russell Westbrook weigh in on the killing when he mentioned the incident publicly, but, frankly, white people need to step up here. He can’t do it by himself.
When I talk about white-people indifference, I’m just echoing what has been written before about how the streets of America and Oklahoma are running red with the blood of black men in this country because of white police officers. I don’t want to sound crass in racial terms, but white people have to step up. Unfortunately, even in my academic, progressive world, dominated by white people, few white “intellectuals” have done so here or elsewhere, or, frankly, even know anything about the current issues at hand. I’m always amazed about how checked out all the “smart” people are and how some even relish this role.
I stand with Crutcher’s family and friends. I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and those people who support it. I agree with civil but realistic and heated discourse and revamping police training and tactics and getting more people of color on our police forces. I believe in massive but peaceful protests on the streets.
I’m not calling for violence. I’m calling for love.
I’m calling for white people to love and respect black people, and I call specifically for white people to either reaffirm again and again or for the first time acknowledge how the history of slavery and the long ensuing discrimination that followed has killed and broken so many people of color in this country.
This country’s horrific historical record of slavery, its ongoing discrimination against black people and the police killings of black men on what seems like a daily basis is fast reaching a breaking point. It’s not sustainable.
The silence of white people is a major reason.
— News On 6 (@NewsOn6) September 23, 2016