Paul R. Lehman, Terrence Crutcher and the Tulsa jury,another instance of injustice by reason of being African American

May 19, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, democracy, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, justice system, Killings in Tulsa, Prejudice, Race in America, social justice system, The Oklahoman, tolerance, Tulsa, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The jury in Tulsa found Betty Shelby not guilty and in doing so told the world that African Americans and other people of color have no rights that a police officer need to respect. Once an African American is stopped by a police officer, his or her life is forfeited to that officer. Facts and evidence play no part in the reason for killing an African American by a police officer if we follow the accounts of the shooting of Terrence Crutcher.

Once police officers stop African Americans, the African Americans lose the right to speak because anything they say can be interpreted by the officers as disrespectful or threatening, whichever they choose. The African Americans lose the right to move because any movement might be seen as a threat to the officer’s life. So, what can the African Americans do when stopped by a police officer? A frequently used bit of advice is to comply with the officer’s command. The problem with that is if the African American starts the compliance too slowly then the officer is forced to take action. That action might involve the use of a taser. When someone is shot with a taser, he must remain perfectly still or his movement will be seen as resisting arrest and not complying with the officer’s command. In other words, the African Americans are damned by whatever they say or do as far as the police are concerned.

Some people will say that no one loses his or her rights when stopped by a police officer. If that is not the case, then why are the victims of a fatal police shooting always viewed as guilty of a crime when they never had an opportunity to present their side of the event that led to the shooting? The victim’s side is always challenged even with clear and concise video shows what happened. The problem is with the justice system and the non-thinking jury that fails to use common sense or follow facts and evidence in order to clear an officer of any wrongdoing. Shelby’s reason for shooting Crutcher indicates that she is a danger to the public or the African American public. She stated: “…she fired her weapon out of fear because she said he didn’t obey her command to lie on the ground…”One has to wonder as to what caused her fear. The video showed Crutcher walking a distance in front of her with both hands in the air. If this posture created fear in her, then the entire public is suspect. What was she afraid of that caused her to shoot?  She said that it was when he “appeared to reach inside his SUV for what she thought was a gun.” The report noted that Crutcher was unarmed, the window as up, and no weapon was found in his SUV.

In the article, “Jury finds Tulsa officer not guilty,” (The Oklahoman 5/18/2017) stated the following: “Prosecutors told jurors that Shelby overreacted. They noted Crutcher had his hands in the air and wasn’t combative—part of which was confirmed by police video taken from a dashboard camera and helicopter that showed Crutcher walking away from Shelby, hands held above his head.” We should note that Shelby was not alone on the scene; she had a fellow police officer near to her. One wonders what caused the jury to rule the way they did in view of all the visual information available to them.

In addition to being afraid, we learn that “Shelby also said she feared the influence of PCP, a powerful hallucinogenic known as Angel Dust that makes users erratic, unpredictable and combative.” However, as stated earlier, Crutcher manifested none of those characteristics.” After an autopsy was performed, PCP was found in his system and also in his SUV. That information was discovered after the shooting, not before. One concern about this incident is why was Crutcher stopped? Could a force less lethal have been employed to effect Shelby’s purpose? What kind of instructions was the jury given in their deliberation in this case?

Evidently, while the questions posed are important for the victim’s family, they are seemingly meaningless to the jury when a police officer is involved. Our criminal justice system must be changed to one that acknowledges and respect the rights of all citizens, regardless of what they look like. The system also needs to reflect the fact that all police officers are not perfect and that they should experience repercussions for their misdeeds.  As it stands today, an African American’s words have no value against that of a police officer. He is always presumed guilty until proven innocent. The reason for that presumption is due to the system of European American supremacy and African American inferiority, the social conditioning European Americans receive in America from birth—African Americans and people of color are to be feared; they are viewed as dangerous and to be suspect. When a European American becomes a police officer, that social conditioning does not change. So, when Shelby said she was afraid of Crutcher, she was not lying, and the members of the jury identified with her and that fear. So, if that is the case, then where is the justice for the African Americans?

When the statement was made earlier that African Americans lose all their rights when stopped by a police officer was made, it was not based on conjecture, but facts and evidence. All one has to do is look at the litany of cases where an unarmed African American or person of color has been shot and killed when alternative uses of force were available. The fact that the Tulsa jury overlooked justice in this case underscores the need to replace the criminal justice system in America. People need to join in with groups who are working to change the system and do whatever is necessary (protest, petition, run for office, support organizations) to help effect change.

Fear is not a monopoly of European American police officers, because communities, family, friends of African Americans and other people of color experience it also, every time they are stopped by a police officer. Fear should never be the reality because the responsibility of all Americans is to ensure life, liberty, and justice for all. We have a lot of work to do; let us get to it.

 

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Paul R. Lehman, Bill O’Reilly’s comments about Maxine Waters hair underscores social conditioning

April 3, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Posted in African American, African American hair, American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, Criticism, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, freedom of speech, justice, Prejudice, President Trump, race, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, The Huffington Post, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The social conditioning of European Americans generally makes them oblivious to the fact that they are bigots. For many, just the false concept of being white is enough to convince them of their superiority over people of color. They are usually not aware of their ethnic biases because society has constructed all the social institutions to accommodate the European American’s sense of being normal. In addition, “…many European Americans still believe that race is a valid term that protects them from scrutiny, they continue to act as though being European American is sufficient for the display of arrogance. Their ignorance of race allows them to act as though their skin color is a birthright, the power, and privilege they think they deserve.” (The system of European American (white) supremacy and African American (black) Inferiority, p.88) This characteristic of European American arrogance was on display recently by Fox television personality, Bill O’Reilly.

We learn about the incident from Taryn Finley, from Huffington Post: “During a segment of “Fox and Friends,” the show played a clip of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca.) speaking out against the discriminatory and bigoted practices of President Donald Trump’s supporters. When asked to give his response, O’Reilly killed two birds with one stone and made a comment that was both racist and sexist.” The statement O’Reilly made was “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig,” ‘he said.’ “Do we have a picture of James Brown? It’s the same wig.”O’Reilly’s first display of arrogance and ignorance was in the fact that James Brown never wore a wig. So, his statement of “It’s the same one,” shows his lack of knowledge relative to James Brown. His arrogance and ignorance continued.

O’Reilly was on the show to provide some informational input relative to a clip shown of Rep. Waters making a statement. However, he did not pay enough attention to what Waters was said so he was not in a position to make a response concerning it. Because of his ignorance and arrogance, both conditioned in him by American society, O’Reilly gave little thought to not responding to the question but instead chose to make a comment about Rep. Water’s hair. The fact that he did not pay attention to the clip showed his lack of concern and value for what Waters had to say. His actions for not paying attention to what was said showed his lack of respect for a United States Representative. Why? The answer is because O’Reilly grew up in a society that conditioned him to not value people of color, specifically, African Americans.

The lack of value for Rep. Waters by O’Reilly was displayed in his choice of references to James Brown. Brown was an entertainer who had a major impact on the world of music starting in the 1950s. He was known also for his clothes and capes as well as his hair, which was coffered in a costume style. For O’Reilly to compare Waters hair to that of James Brown showed he lacked concrete information about both Brown and Waters, but did not hesitate to speak it as if his assessment was accurate and valid. Neither was the case. But, because of O’Reilly’s social conditioning, he felt at ease speaking his mind with fear of retribution. One can infer that O’Reilly saw nothing wrong in viewing Waters as something of a clown in a wig. He, apparently, would not have stopped with his analogy and comparison of Waters to Brown had not his co-host Brian Kilmeade “laughed and made a tasteless joke about the musician, who died in 2006. “He’s not using it anymore,’ he said—they finally buried him.’” The problem with this incident is the fact that O’Reilly never realized his bigotry in his words and actions. To add insult to injury, O’Reilly did not respond to Waters comments about Donald Trump and his discrimination and bigotry. O’Reilly acknowledged his lack of concern and respect for Waters in his statement:”I didn’t hear a word she said.”

Some people might say that what O’Reilly said about Waters was not that bad; he meant her no harm or disrespect. Wrong. The fact that he did not pay attention to what she was saying was disrespectful, and the excuse for his not paying attention was, even more, condemning of his bigotry and arrogance. But these things never registered to him as being “over the line” of decency and respect because of his social conditioning.

Once O’Reilly was confronted with the fact that what he said about Waters was considered in poor taste, he offered something of an apology in order to maintain his sense of superiority. The fact that he apologized is irrelevant because we do not know what he apologized for since all he said was:”Unfortunately, I also made a jest about her hair which was dumb. I apologize.” What we need to understand about O’Reilly and many European Americans is that they are ignorant as to their perceptions of people of color bring biased. They cannot see a problem is denigrating someone of color because they do not see that denigration as something wrong and unacceptable in our democratic society. They have been conditioned to see themselves as normal human beings, and their perception of everything is normal as long as they are at the center and in control.

While America has made progress on many levels, one of the levels that need to be addressed is the fact of race as a myth. For too many years Americans have been conditioned to see each other by focusing on our differences, especially in skin complexions. We have been led to believe that the fairness of the skin reflects a higher order of human biological development. We know today that all human being are alike and belong to only one race, the human race. However, because of the continuous social conditioning that underscores the myth of European American supremacy, people like Bill O’Reilly cannot see himself as a bigot. The challenge for America is to change the bigoted norm to one that reflects the value and worth of all human beings. That way we can begin to remove the ignorance, innocence, and arrogance that underscore the mindset of too many Americans.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Good community relationships with the police requires clear, realistic perception

January 29, 2017 at 6:02 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal activity, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, freedom of speech, justice, law enforcement agencies, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President, President Obama, protest, race, segregation, skin complexion, social justice system, The Oklahoman, tolerance, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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In an article by Mark A. Yancey, “Police and community relationship goes 2 ways,” (The Oklahoman 1/28/2017) his first two sentences underscore the reasons why community relationships are in need of a lot of work. He stated that: “In the wake of recent police-involved shootings around the country, I often hear that police need to rebuild trust with the communities they serve. While I agree trust needs to be re-established, we should not place the entire burden of restoring trust, promoting respect and tolerance and following the law solely on the police.”Two words are used in these sentences that demonstrate Yancey’s lack of understanding of the problems involved with building a relationship with the communities; those two words are rebuild and restoring.

While we can applaud Yancey’s desire to seek a good relationship with communities, we must recognize that he is a citizen of a society with a natural bias against people of color. Chances are, he does not realize his bias because it is not something he consciously acquired but was conditioned to be society—his home, neighborhood, school, church, city, state, and nation. One example should suffice to show how the bias works. If an officer observes a nice-looking late-model car driven by a young African American male, chances are two thoughts will cross the officer’s mind—the car is stolen, or the driver is a drug dealer. However, if the drive of the car is a young European American male, the two thoughts might be that he is a spoiled kid or it is the family’s car. The thoughts relative to the African American male were not made out of malice or anger; they are conditioned responses. If the officer does not recognize the negative thoughts relative to the African American, then they cannot be replaced.

One cannot rebuild or restore relationships that never existed in the first place. The relationship the officer has with the communities is the one conditioned by a society which sees people of color in a negative context. The relationship should be for the officer to serve and protect all the citizens without bias, but when the bias is hidden by social convention, the lines get blurred.

Yancey’s next sentence also underscored a problem of a lack of understanding in the police-community relationship: “Relationship-building, after all, is a two-way street and requires mutual trust, respect, and tolerance.” When we stop and take a look at some of the recent videos of police treatment of young African American men, we recognize that all three of these elements are missing from the behavior of the officers. Officers are paid by the citizens to do their jobs; the citizens are not, so it is incumbent on the officers to serve as examples in these areas. History shows us that the law enforcement agency has been wanting in these three areas relative to their relationship with the African American community. For example, shortly after former President Obama had taken office, a noted scholar a professor from a prestigious university was arrested for entering his own home. He identified himself to the officer, told the officer that the home was his, and showed him the key to the door. The officer disregarded all the professor said and arrested him. What happened to trust, respect and tolerance during this experience?

Another recent example of where the police disregard these areas of trust, respect, and tolerance involved a young African American man who had used a tool to do some work on the sunroof of his car. Someone from the neighborhood called 911 and reported someone breaking into an auto. When the young man’s car was pulled over, he got out with both hands in the air. The video showed the officers issuing orders and simultaneously charging the young man, not giving him any time to obey the commands. To add insult to injury, the officers kept telling the young man to stop resisting when there were three or four officers on him, pushing his face into the concrete, punching him and holding his hand behind his back with an officer’s knee. Yet, they kept yelling at him to stop resisting—he was not resisting. How could he when he was face down on the pavement with three or four officers on him? Where were the respect and tolerance? Videos of both these incidents exist and the behavior of the officer/officers can be observed on YouTube.

Yancey mentioned that “citizens need to do their part in the rebuilding process by avoiding unnecessary, violent confrontations with officers.” Officer Yancey would do well to review many of the videos that show no violence on the part of the citizens unless or until it is initiated by officers who are in a rush to subdue a citizen. The fact is that when an officer stops a citizen, the citizen loses all his or her rights because if a video and audio history of the event is not available, the law enforcement community will disregard anything the citizen has to say but accepts everything the officer has to say.

Time and again, videos have shown that citizens can observe the laws, and follow police orders and still get beaten, or shot, and then arrested. We are not saying that the citizens are never at fault; many times they are, and many times mental illness has some part to play in the events. Yancey stated that “The law requires officers to respect the citizens they serve. Citizens should show police the same respect they rightfully demand by cooperating with officers’ instructing and letting our judicial system resolve peacefully and disagreements about the lawfulness of their actions.” In an ideal world Yancey’s statement might be acceptable, but in reality, if the citizen cannot present evidence to prove his or her case, it is an automatic win for the officer. All we need to do is check the record of police cases of misconduct and see how many convictions have been placed on the officers.

The first order of business in trying to establish good community relationships is for the police departments to understand their history with the community. If the elements of trust, respect, and tolerance are missing, then the first question should be why? Chances are the problems start with the biased perception of the citizens conditioned in the law enforcers by society. That is the first thing that needs to change—all citizens should be viewed as citizens, no differences. We can admire Yancey’s efforts in wanting to address this problem, but he needs to better understand the role of the police officers and their relationship to the community before asking the community to give what must be earned—trust, respect, and tolerance

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