Friday, February 06, 2009

Unarmed people killed by police.

A commenter shared this with me. Please check it out.

I don't know yet if I agree with T that police officers shouldn't carry guns, but I'll admit that it really changes my own perspective to think about what it would feel like to know that I myself might be likely to be killed by a police officer. I don't walk or drive down the street living in that reality. I know of a female college student who was beaten up at a protest by a cop who was known for violent behavior. I had a student who was raped by a police officer at gunpoint. A friend of mine watched a cop shoot and kill a puppy during a power struggle because he wanted to show he was in control. So I have a healthy fear of the police, but at the same time, I also live in a white body and I am the person that cops are supposed to be protecting and I know this subconsciously. And to protect me, don't they need to have guns? This is what is going on, almost below the radar, in my head when I think about taking the guns away. And that is a hard thing to admit.

But Black men are at tremendous risk from the justice system, and at some point we have to ask ourselves as a society, at whose sacrifice are some of us being protected by cops having guns? And then it becomes pretty obvious that that's exactly what's going on - we are sacrificing people of color so that whites can have an illusion of safety. (Not unlike our foreign policy, actually.)

I'm also thinking about what happened here this past fall with the RNC and how quick people are to use weapons when they have them. This certainly isn't unique to police officers, but it does give me pause.

Thanks, T, for making me think about this in a different way.


Green said...

I am wary of people who have guns. I think it gives them a power rush.

I think police carrying guns is, in a way, similar to hitting kids.

I can not ever hit a kid (because I don't have one of my own). So I use other forms of punishment I can think of other than hitting. What if cops didn't carry guns, just like I don't "carry" being allowed to hit? I bet all of a sudden they'd find ways to subdue people that don't involve shooting them, just like I find ways to punish without hitting.

Anonymous said...

Black men and women are also victims of non-cop violence in tremendous numbers. You are very much simplifying the reality. I am very much pro gun control, and also would not be opposed to cops not carrying firearms if we were in a situation like the UK where there is an unarmed populace.

Plain(s)feminist said...

I'm not sure how I'm simplifying the reality by focusing on the police. We have officers with guns who are using the guns without cause, and I don't have statistics, but it seems like when this happens, people of color tend to be on the receiving end of the bullet fairly often.

What does this have to do with being victims of non-cop violence - how does that affect this?

Anonymous said...

PF, it has to do with the fact that the cops are also investigating the crimes that blacks and other people of color are victims of. If the goal is to reduce violence and enhance justice for people of color, you'd have to also consider not only whether unarmed cops would be less likely to victimize people of color (the answer is surely yes, but it only takes you so far), but whether taking away guns from cops would decrease their ability to deal with crimes against people of color, who are also disproportionately victims of gun violence (meaning the perpetrators of those crimes against victims of of color will be armed).

Anonymous said...

PF, a bit more. You said cops sometimes use the guns without cause. Probably most citizens use guns without cause as well. I'd prefer a world where neither the citizenry nor the police had guns. Given that the citizenry here have guns, and the recent Supreme Court ruling has only made it easier, it is not all obvious that disarming law enforcement means that people of color will be less often victims of gun violence without cause. In fact, it may be more. And that is where this article simplifies things way too much -- it assumes that an unarmed police force would lessen violence against people of color without addressing the collateral consequences of what it means to those communities to have an unarmed police force when non-police people in the US have ready access to guns.

Plain(s)feminist said...

Thanks for explaining. I take your point.

It's an interesting discussion; I was once talking with a community activist who focused on police abuse of Blacks in Buffalo. She felt that we ought to do away with the police and have citizens serve as a sort of volunteer police force. Which is essentially what used to be the case in many places, and that was definitely not a safer situation - for the obvious reason that people used this power to get revenge or for whatever other purposes that served them.

Anyway...this is all food for thought.

B. said...

This is absolutely ridiculous. I am a white person and have never considered myself safe due to cops. Especially not because they carry guns. This is some ignorant person bringing up a race issue that has long been subdued. Some people will never let things go. I was told that because I didn't vote for Obama that I am a racist. So what does that mean; that everyone in the country had to vote for him or they were racist?

I am so tired of this race thing it's really unbelievable. People say that racist people are simple-minded and ignorant. This is true. On the oher side of the spectrum, people who blame everything on racism are as equally, if not more, simple-minded and ignorant.

Plain(s)feminist said...

...and what a privilege, to be "so tired of the race thing" and to think that this issue has "long been subdued."