Paul R. Lehman, Reasons why European American (white) police shoot and kill African Americans

March 31, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, amygdala, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Breaking Ranks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Norm Stamper, Race in America, social conditioning, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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The police officers shooting and killing an unarmed African American man in Sacramento, California recently should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the news the last four to five years. The excuses for the shootings are always the same: the officers reveal that they feared for their lives or they felt their lives were threatened, or the victim made a threatening gesture or movement towards them or they thought he or she had a gun in their hands. All of these reasons are viewed as justifiable for the shooting of a suspect. On the other hand, the family of the victim always asks the questions: why did you not wait to assess the situation before you fired shots? Why did you not use another of the tools available to you like the tazer, rubber bullets, nightstick, and bean bags? Why could you not have shot him or her in the arm or leg or some non-deadly place? Why did you not give the victim time to respond to your commands?

The fact that this scenario keeps happening over and over again is not an accident or the action of a few bad officers but part of a culture that permeates the entire criminal justice system. Most officers know that regardless of their actions, their department and union will always take their word as valid over any citizen, so the fear of serious repercussions for a wrong deed does not represent an impediment to their actions. The American public has witnessed many times the results of a police shooting via video that contradicts the report of the officers. Yet, the officers walk away without being held responsible for the misdeeds committed. To blame be officers for not being held responsible for their deeds is not their fault but the system that supports them including the Attorney General, District attorney, prosecutor, judge, jury, and society.

What many African Americans understand about the criminal justice system in American is that it has always been biased against them as clearly recorded by history from before Reconstruction, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow. Many European Americans generally support law enforcement actions without question and by doing so allow injustices to continue against people of color. Some present and former police officers have readily admitted that a culture of hate, fear, anger, and bigotry against African Americans exist in law enforcement.  From where do these feelings derive? The most obvious answer identifies social conditioning as the primary contributor to ethnic bias in American society that is retained by people who become part of the criminal justice system directly and indirectly.

Norm Stamper, a former police officer and author of the book Breaking Rank (2005) underscored the European American law officers’ perception of the African Americans: “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘colorblindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”These feelings are not reserved for European American law enforcers only. Paul Butler, in his book Choke Hold (2017), noted that recent scientific research shed some light on how many African Americans are generally perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” Earlier studies also indicated that the negative reactions of European American law officers towards African American males may because by unconscious social bias rather than deliberate actions.

Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow (2013) noted that a number of studies showed how some European Americans reacted to images of European Americans and African Americans in an exercise that considered observation, interpretation, and reaction. She noted, “that racial schemas operated not only as part of conscious, rational deliberations, but also automatically—without awareness or intent.” This study might possibly explain why some European American police officers act irrationally when having to deal with African Americans and people of color in general:

One study, for example, involved a video game that placed photographs of white and black individuals holding either a gun or other object (such as a wallet, soda can or cell phone into various photographic backgrounds. Participants were told to decide as quickly as possible whether to shoot the target. Consistent with earlier studies, participants were more likely to mistake a black target as armed when he was not, and mistake a white target as unarmed, when in fact he was armed. This pattern of discrimination reflected automatic, unconscious thought processes, not careful deliberations (p. 107)

The fact that ethnic bias is central to the social conditioning in America accounts for the unconscious bias of many European Americans; that bias can be manifested either implicitly, explicitly or both. Consequently, many European Americans can honestly believe that they are not biased against African Americans because many of their friends, relatives, and associates are African American, however, that fact does not mean they are free of biases.  Alexander noted that “Implicit bias test may still show that you [European Americans] hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks, even though you do not believe you do and do not want to. In the study described above, for example, black participants showed an amount of ‘shooter bias’ similar to that shown by whites” (107). Of course, fewer European Americans are shot and killed by African American police officers than by European American officers.

Armed with the scientific information from the various studies mentioned, we can assert that much more than police training is necessary to replace the biased ethnic culture in our criminal justice system. The problem of ethnic bias must be the first item on the agenda to be addressed, not through training, but education. Society must fully understand and reject the bias before it can begin to replace it.

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Paul R. Lehman, Georgia cop’s statement “We only shoot blacks,” underscores culture bigotry

September 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, Department of Justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Norm Stamper, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, whites | 1 Comment
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Many European Americans are beginning to see and realize the attitude and treatment received by African Americans from law enforcement. For too many years African Americans have been made to look like the evil and dangerous villains that deserve the abuse and even death they receive from law enforcement. When African Americans complained about the injustice and bigotry of the criminal justice system, many European Americans turned a blind eye and deaf ear to those complaints. Today, with the benefit of video technology the public is able to witness the behavior of law enforcement agents and their treatment of people of color. A recent incident involving a police officer and an assumed European American woman provides evidence to support the problem of ethnic bigotry in America.

An article by Terence Cullen in the New York Daily News (8/31/2017) told about the incident that underscores many of the claims against law enforcement and the deaths of many African Americans. The officer involved in the incident was Cobb County (Georgia) Lt. Greg Abbott and the article noted that “Abbott pulled the sedan over on suspicion of driving under the influence and told a woman in the passenger seat to use the cell phone in her lap. The woman tells the 28-year veteran she’s afraid to move her hands. ‘I’ve just seen way too many videos of cop,’ the woman says before Abbott cuts her off. ‘But you’re not black’ he says. ‘Remember, we only shoot black people.” The officer’s comments tell us much about him and our society.

One of the first things the officer does with respect to his comment about the woman not being black is to show his biased social conditioning relative to the concept of races. He does not question the authenticity of the concept; he simply accepts it and proceeds with his beliefs. All Americans have been conditioned to accept the concept of races, black and white, as legitimate when we know that the concept is false, an invention to control society. By the officer identifying the woman as white, he has made a judgment about her that gives her power and privilege over people of color whether she wants it or not. The only reasonable assumption we can make about this officer’s comment relative to the woman not being black is to consider her skin complexion. We can safely assume that her complexion is deemed by the officer acceptable enough to be considered white. Whether the woman is European American or a member of some other ethnic group, we do not know. However, that determination is of little consequence to the officer who has already made his judgment relative to her identity.

American society has conditioned European Americans to view African Americans as inferior to them. As such, the need to show respect and curtsey to them is never an issue because no repercussions result from disrespecting and abusing them. This attitude of bigotry is not something taught to each generation, but shown in our way of life as being natural and normal. We ignore the facts that we are one race of people, facts given to us through the sciences, history, and even the Bible. Because the people who invented this system of bigotry also controlled all the institutions in society, they were able to keep the system alive and well. Today, many European Americans would not know their identity if they were told that they were not white; that is how extensive the social conditioning has become. They also believe that regardless of the educational, economic and political status people of color attain, the European Americans with no comparable credits is made to believe they are better. So, the color white is important to the officer as well as to the woman in the car.

Community relations have never been good between the African American community and the law enforcement community because law enforcement has always viewed African Americans as inferior. When one side of a community has preconceived ideas about the other that places them at a disadvantage, no reasonable or mutually just solution to any problem will be forth –coming. Most community relation programs instituted by law enforcement for the African American community always favor law enforcement because of their conditioned biases. Although some members of law enforcement desire to faithfully perform their jobs, they cannot deny that the culture inside of law enforcement is anti-black (African American) and that sentiment is reflected in the officer’s statement: “Remember, we only shoot black people.”

Norm Stamper, a retired European American police officer, noted in his book, Breaking Rank, (2005) that contrary to what European Americans believe, “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘color blindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”Stamper’s comments are underscored by another former member of law enforcement. In his book, Choke Hold, (2017) Paul Butler, an African American former federal prosecutor and law professor at Georgetown University, defined chokehold as laws and social practices made to control African American men: “It is a two-step process. Part one is the social and legal construction of every black man as a criminal or potential criminal. Part two is the legal and policy response to contain the threat—to put down African American men literally and figuratively.” Given their experiences in law enforcement, these two individuals have no reason to make false statements about the culture of law enforcement regarding African Americans.

Officer Abbott, a 28-year veteran on the Police force, exhibited the ethnic bias that is part of the culture in which he works. Since he was conditioned by society to be biased against people of color, joining the police force did nothing to relieve him of his biases but, evidently, provided an environment in which they could be exercised with impunity. Removing Abbott from the force will not eliminate the problem of bigotry since it is societal. Whether we interpret Abbott’s statements as sarcastic or not, they flowed freely from his mouth without hesitation.  Abbott does not simply represent law enforcement, he represents American society. Until American society can label this biased culture despicable and stand together demanding justice for all our citizens, we must share in the responsibility of what this culture produces.

 

Paul R. Lehman, Police unions try to control department culture which can create problems

September 7, 2016 at 2:53 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Baltimore, Bigotry in America, Breaking Ranks, chicago, Colin Kaepernick, Constitutional rights, democracy, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, Ferguson, Football, justice, law, law enforcement agencies, liberty, Norm Stamper, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, protest, race, social justice system, The U.S. Constitution | Leave a comment
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The time has come for Americans to take a look at the arrogance, ignorance, and bigotry exhibited by members of the law enforcement establishment, in particular, the police union representatives. Santa Clara Police union and Police Chief differ on their responsibility: “The Santa Clara police chief has vowed to continue providing a safe environment at San Francisco home games after the union representing his officers threatened to boycott policing the stadium if the San Francisco 49ers don’t discipline Colin Kaepernick for criticizing police and refusing to stand during the national anthem.” (AP 9-4-2016) The union took the first action relative to Kaepernick’s protest by sending a letter to the 49ers.

The police chief understands and accepts Kaepernick’s Constitutional right to protest: “As distasteful as his actions are, these actions are protected by the Constitution. Police officers are here to protect the rights of every person, even if we disagree with their actions.” On the other hand, the union representatives letter requested that action is taken against Kaepernick or else “it could result in police officers choosing not to work at your facilities.”The union does not work for the city, the chief does.

If we were to go back and examine each of the cases of African Americans being killed or treated unjustly by law enforcement agents in cities like Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Detroit, Los Angeles, etc…, we would also find a representative of their union stepping into the situation and doing a number of irrational things in favor of their officers. First, the union wants to separate the victims from the officers by underscoring the dangers involved in police work and the obvious disregard for the law by the victims. A picture of the police officers is painted of them being above the law and not worthy of criticism by the victims or the public; they are held as sacrosanct.

Once this picture of the police officers is presented, the union then attempts to turn the victim into the villain by checking to see if he or she has a police record that can be used to vilify him or her to the public. Although any information on a victim’s record might not be pertinent to the incident in question, if it will cast a negative image of the victim, it will be used. The objective is to question the worthiness of the victim or the public to challenge the character of the police and turn the process of the public having to choose the “good guys,” police, over the ”bad guys,” the victims. In any event, any aspersions cast upon the police officers are taken as criticism against the entire law enforcement establishment with no middle ground. The union knows that in the past, most people believed the police over the victim.

With Kaepernick’s protest, the union had already decided that he was wrong and a villain to the point that if nothing was done by the 49ers organization to punish him, his entire team would suffer as well as all the people associated with their home games. The union totally disregarded Kaepernick’s Constitutional right to protest in the manner he chose and because they did not approve of it, it was unacceptable. Fortunately, the police chief used better judgment and knowledge of the law to handle the situation. The chief’s letter probably did not sit well with the union because it took away the union’s power to instill fear in and to coerce victims of police misdeeds.

At times it seems that the union representative wants to take charge of any negative situation involving police officers and usurp the powers of the chief. For example, in Oklahoma City, the question of how police body cameras are to be used has caused some disagreement between the union representative and the chief. The union wants the police to have total control of the pictures recorded by these cameras—what is seen and by whom. The chief disagrees with that notion because the public would argue the benefits of the cameras if the pictures could be censured by the officer before, during and after a police action. The concept of transparency would be lost if the pictures could be altered before anyone other than the police could see them. No decision has been made in this case and because no decision has been made, the cameras are not being worn.

Often what the union representative does is to try and convince the public to believe the opposite of what he accuses a victim of during—painting everyone with one brush. For example, when a person accuses an officer of wrong-doing, the emphasis is on that officer, but the union tries to spin the story to make it appear that the entire police department or all law enforcement agencies are being indicted. Using this tactic the union can create an “us” versus “them” scenario with “us” being the good guys, and “them” being the crooks. A quick reference to the union’s letter to the 49ers underscores that point. According to the AP article, “the police union complained that Kaepernick’s ‘inappropriate behavior’ has ‘threatened our harmonious working relationship.’”The letter seeks to make Kaepernick the outsider –crook and the police the good guys. Fortunately, the police chief did not allow his power to be usurped by the union this time.

In his book, Breaking Rank, Norm Stamper commented on police unions as I noted in my book: “Police unions represent a problem for social change in America because they have been able to manipulate the system of [European American] white supremacy…they usually oppose any changes in their operation not introduced by themselves and complain when any criticism is directed toward them….If any questions are raised concerning the actions of officers, the union usually accuse the party asking the question of being anti-police.”According to Stamper, the unions usually try to control the culture of the police departments (The System of European American (white) Supremacy and African American (black) Inferiority).

The fact that the Santa Clara Police Union decided that Kaepernick’s behavior was inappropriate and that some corrective action had to be taken shows the arrogance of the union. They used their position and standing in the community to make a value judgment against someone who had done no wrong. They showed their ignorance in sending a letter to the 49ers making a threat for some corrective action against Kaepernick before they checked to see if a law was broken or an offense committed. Although the question of Kaepernick’s ethnicity was not mentioned, his protest involved the treatment of African Americans and people of color by law enforcement. The union took offense to his protest.

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