There is a certain mindset in the United States on the part of wealthy and powerful white people, that whatever power the police need to keep enforcing the system of white supremacy is justified, regardless of the consequences to innocent lives. (As far as they are concerned, those who fall, victim to police violence are collateral damage, a necessary loss toward achieving the larger goal).
The system protects powerful whites, it was designed exactly to do so, it has indoctrinated poor whites to live in a perpetually suspended state of awaiting their turn.
They are indoctrinated into believing in a mirage, that just over the horizon is an oasis of wealth and prosperity.
That they will become the next success story, the big man who owns the plantation. Make no mistake about it, this has been happening since slavery when the rich told whites they were better than blacks based on their white skin.
To this day poor whites still refuse to see the error of supporting a system that keeps them down, almost as it does minorities.
From the days of slavery, to the present, poor whites believed the lies they were told by the wealthy. The lies were designed to drive a wedge between poor whites & Blacks, so that white planters and other wealthy whites could continue to stack up wealth and maintain control.
Still today, poor whites wait expectantly that they will be next in line to move up to the gaudy, gilded penthouse, fifty floors into the Manhattan sky.
Today, even though the United States has acquired more wealth and power than any other nation in history ever had, poverty continues to rise, not just in the black community but across all racial groups. According to the Census Bureau 29.9% of the population — or 93.6 million — live close to poverty, with incomes less than two times that of their poverty thresholds. The USDA estimated that 11.1% of US households were food insecure in 2018. This means that approximately 14.3 million households had difficulty providing enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Rates of food insecurity were substantially higher than the national average for households with incomes near or below the Federal poverty line. (Source: US Department of Agriculture)
Despite those glaring trendlines, poor whites tend not to see inequities in the system much the same way that blacks do. Despite being poor, and in many cases more destitute than a large segment of the black population, they cling to the system that has kept them in perpetual poverty, generation after generation.
But it is hardly my point to show the poverty rate among white Americans. My intent is to demonstrate just how poor whites are also victims of a system that is held up by their sheer numeric strength of white people. But under which they too suffer in poverty, and are seen as valuable, only to the extent they continue to militate against their own self-interest.
As the COVID-19 pandemic rages, and people are forced to stop. Take stock of their lives, and observe the things that are happening around them, the year 2020 has resulted in some firsts.
For the very first time in the nation’s history, the police killing of a black man, George Floyd took center stage across the country, and cities and town across the country were filled with protesters against police brutality, most of the protesters have been white, that’s a first.
In the same way that the criminal justice system treats two men, one who walks into a bank and commits an armed robbery, then runs outside to a getaway car driven by another, so must dissenters view the system when it comes to prosecutors and judges who enable and cheerlead police murder, and creates space (prosecutorially, through non-action) and judicially, through rulings and dissent, allowing it to continue and to grow.
What has been clear as a result of (a) Trump’s ascendency to the executive Mansion, (b) the COVID-19 pandemic, and © the unrest on the nation’s streets, is that Americans of all stripes have begun to see police brutality for what it is.
Also evident, is the buddy-buddy system that exists between police and prosecutors offices, which makes it impossible for prosecutors to appropriately hold police accountable for their crimes.
What has not gotten much attention, is the complicity of unelected judges who continue to be shielded by their dark robes and ivory towers, away from the blood and gore, many of whom help to create doctrines that places the lives of people in inherent danger.
One such doctrine is the qualified immunity doctrine created by the Supreme Court, which is not in the constitution, is not law, but a standard set by the Supreme Court to shield public employees from civil liability when they are lawfully carrying out their professional duties and may make mistakes.
The problem with Qualified immunity is that when it comes to police officers who are given powers unequaled in any other field, the courts have bent over backward to allow police to operate in enforcing the nation’s laws..
Unfortunately, many police officers use qualified immunity as a shield, behind which they abuse, maim, and kill citizens with wanton disregard and abject impunity.
According to the Supreme Court’s established doctrine, in order for a cop to be outside the shield of qualified immunity, he must commit an act so egregious, that any other officer would have known that the act was criminal. However, that is not all, in order for an errant cop to lose his immunity, there must have already been one such case against another cop that has been prosecuted and decided in a court of law.
It is a high bar for prosecutors who are doing their job properly to meet. It is a bar behind which prosecutors who side with police rather than do their jobs, find shelter.
Buzzfeed reported on a case in 2010 in which In police officers responded to a report that a teenager was walking through a neighborhood in Garland, Texas, with a handgun. When officers found the 17-year-old, he was holding the gun to his own head. The cops immediately shot the poor teen twice, having been shot, he involuntarily pulled the trigger. The teen survived but has permanent injuries that include paralysis and brain damage.
(Way to save a person from harming himself).
The family of the teen sued the police, they accused the cops of using excessive force and fabricating evidence. They argued that even though the young man was armed, the circumstances didn’t justify deadly force, and they accused one officer of lying about the teen aiming a gun at the police.
In August 2019, the US Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit denied immunity to the officers, meaning the case would go to a jury. That’s great, but what is startling, is that the four Trump’s appointees dissented, arguing, “No member of this court has stared down a fleeing felon on the interstate or confronted a mentally disturbed teenager who is brandishing a loaded gun near his school.” Judges Andy Oldham and James Ho, both Trump nominees, wrote in a dissenting opinion.
The dissent gives a bird’s eye view of what is happening behind the scenes, whose actions are emboldening the police violence daily, resulting in the pushback from people tired of the abuse.
The wording itself causes one to rethink the whole notion of “learned judge”. It presupposes that a fleeing felon or a mentally disturbed teenager, is fair game to be summarily executed by police.
God help those of you who have your wonderful kids, teenagers, or otherwise, with mental health issues, who think it’s a good idea to call the police to your home to help.
The Buzzfeed reporting went on to state that In cases where police have argued for immunity, Trump’s nominees haven’t just split with their fellow Republican appointees on how to apply the law — they’ve expressed full-throated support for law enforcement and made clear they believe courts should do more to shield officers from lawsuits“If we want to stop mass shootings, we should stop punishing police officers who put their lives on the line to prevent them’.
The undeniable reality is that there is not a single case of a mass shooting that was stopped by police officers.
Judge Ho wrote in another case in October 2019. He dissented from his colleagues — a mix of Republican and Democratic appointees — who denied immunity to officers accused of using excessive force when they responded to reports of an armed man walking through a neighborhood and shot and killed the suspect. (Buzzfeed)
In the case of a 17-year old boy shot by Garland Texas Police, the very same Ho & Oldham joined byJerry Smith, a Reagan appointee, blasted their colleagues in the majority who ruled that it should be up to a jury to decide the case. Clearly this new cadre of earthly Gods do not feel that juries should make the call but it should be up to them the unelected elites to decide to say police are above the laws.
“Supreme Court precedent “gives us no basis for sneering at cops on the beat from the safety of our chambers,” they wrote.
Judge Kyle Duncan, also a Trump nominee, published his own dissent, writing that “by making the officers run the gauntlet of trial,” the court undermined their ability to make split-second decisions about using lethal force”.
In other words, police officers who are entrusted to make decisions of life and death, police officers who are trained for only a few months, police officers who harbor deep racial biases, police officers who use drugs and are sometimes hopped up on mind-altering substances, should be held to zero standards of accountability when they use deadly force resulting in the death of citizens.
The nation is in for a rather rough ride, in some quarters there have been complaints about the lack of qualification of some of the over 200 appointees Donald Trump has managed to load up onto the federal judiciary, including two on the supreme court, the consequences are going to be dire going forward. Andrew Oldham is only 42 years old.
The cold, calculated impunity with which American police brutalize, and kill citizens, cannot be processed within a framework solely of good cop Vs bad cop. It has to be addressed in a fulsome way, taking into account the vast infrastructure that operates behind the scenes to protect police from accountability.
This is not a system that will crumble and allow for justice to prevail, it is a system that will take all hands on deck to dismantle, and it will not be easy.
Mike Beckles is a former police Detective corporal, businessman, freelance writer, he is a black achiever honoree, and publisher of the blog mikebeckles.com.
He’s also a contributor to several websites.
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