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Police video showing the killing Mr. Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma is very disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised. But perhaps the most disturbing thing about it is the casualness the officers approached the matter after he was shot. The lack of empathy and failure to call for medical help is inhuman and criminal. 

The police can be heard making prejudicial statements before Mr. Crutcher is fatally shot, one officer is heard saying “he looks like a bad dude,” that is despite the fact that Mr. Crutcher has his hands raised above his heard and walking away from the police in a non-threatening manner. In the entire video, more than 13-minutes in length, there is no call for ambulance, instead officers are seen going to his body and running back and forth aimlessly. One officer is heard saying they need to close the road and what follows is a cacophony of police cars driving high speed to the scene. No ambulance among them. The video shows more than 6 officers in the shooting scene some walking around casually doing nothing but responding to unclear questions from a radio transmission.

The reaction from the presidential candidates have varied. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called in the Steve Harvey radio show and condemned the killing and called on white people to join in the fight against such killings saying “this is not who we are.”

Republican nominee took a different tactic but a small step in the right direction. So if you are still wondering if there is police brutality targeting black people, you’re very lonely. Even race-baiting Trump, the stoker or racial animus, as seen with this false infamous re-tweet of a white supremacist graphic painting African Americans as criminals, finally came around to see that police, not all, indeed, and particularly in the case of Mr. Crutcher, target and apply more force toward black people and make up stories to justify their actions. Speaking in reference to the latest police shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a police officer killed Mr. Crutcher, a motorist stuck on the road and looking for help, Trump was forced to admit Crutcher seemed to be doing all the right things under the circumstances and the officer “choked” and fatally shot him because she was scared. Despite the clear criminal blunder shown by the officers, Trump, who regularly boasts of having the endorsements of law enforcement officers and unions found a way to give the officers the benefit of the doubt. He did not make much of an attempt to call the killing unjustified or rally the country toward seeking a solution to the problem he helped to create with his divisive rhetoric. He seemed lost. 

It’s not clear why and how Trump, the self-proclaimed law and order candidate, a coded self title that implies support for police against a prejudged “disorderly” blacks reached his epiphany, but it must have something to do with the venue of his speech and his audience, the church of Darrell Scott, a black pastor who supports Trump. While his tone was measured and conciliatory, Trump’s statement came a day late, a move that is inconsistent with his habit of forcefully weighing in on crises without delay or enough information especially if it could be spun against refugees or immigrants.

Trump’s statement seems ironic and self-serving coming only after his realization that he needs African American support to win the presidency, or at least he needs to appear to be reaching to African Americans to show that he is not racist, an effort that can be viewed to be geared more toward shoring his support among Republican voters who are uncomfortable voting for a racist. We know Trump watches a lot of TV and there is no way he could not have seen the Tulsa shooting that had dominated the news in the past two days. Why did it take him a whole day to comment on something so obvious looking at the video and affecting the African American community? Would it have taken him this long if the victim was a police officer? Why is it so hard for Trump to come out and state forcefully as he states when castigating immigrants, Muslims and Mexicans that this killing of an unarmed African American is wrong and needs to stop? Why can’t Trump come out and say Black Lives do In Fact Matter? And stop the nonsensical counter-punch All Lives Matter or Blue Lives Matter that dominated the Republican National Convention and championed by his supporters? The law and order candidate seems to apply his standards one way when the victims are police and finds excuses when the victim is an unarmed African American and police appear to be on the wrong. To her credit, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton came out immediately and condemned the killing and appealed to whites to join in and help end this negative trend that is tearing the nation apart.

Trump seems to fail to understand that the issue of police brutality toward black people is a national issue and requires an urgent solution. He seems to fail to understand that effective law and order requires the cooperation of the police and citizens. Trump fails to realize that his rhetoric in the past five years has contributed to this

In his condescending outreach to African Americans, Trump is fond of reminding his predominantly white audience that black people get shot just walking down the street. But he neglects to state who shoots them. Well, there is that insidious and fallacious argument about black-on-black crime that Trump and his supporters such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani like to push, but the truth is intra-racial crime is common among all races and not just among African Americans. Besides, equating police action and criminal action toward African Americans is not solving the problem and actually raises questions about police effectiveness in protecting crime victims and the effectiveness of our gun laws. The black-on-black crime counter argument used by Trump supporters is designed to downplay police brutality toward black people is the key stumbling block among conservative politicians, including Trump and police unions that stand in the way of urgently needed police reform.

This is silly to say but it needs to be said so people can stop making the idiotic black-on-black argument to present a false equivalence that suggest black people don’t value life and police killings of African Americans is nothing unique. The difference between a black criminal killing another black person and the police killing an unarmed black person is criminals commit crimes and police officers, by their employment are supposed to stop them, protect innocent people and enforce laws. What we are witnessing now is police joining in with the criminals, not literally, to add to the body count of killing innocent black people. I realize most officers are ethical and professional and do not go out with an intention of killing anybody, but when black-on-black crime arguments are made to justify police killings of unarmed black people, we are forced to conclude this problem is far from getting resolved and we must join in and force action.

Understanding the issue 

The killing black people is fast being misconstrued as a purely race issue, it’s not. It’s a racial and an institutional issue. It’s racial because the targets are black and institutional because police officers involved are from all races including black officers. There are several problems that have allowed this situation to fester.

  1. The police culture where use of force is encouraged and even glorified as tough.
  2. The protections police who kill black people are provided under the law.
  3. The lack clear structures to independently investigate police-involved killings that have led to many officers being acquitted after killing an innocent and sometimes unarmed black people
  4. The permissive and poorly-thought out gun laws that allows civilians to own powerful guns making police fear for their lives
  5. The lack of punishment for officers who participate in cover-up of criminal actions by fellow officers.

At the moment, killings of innocent, non-threatening and unarmed black people seem to be on the rise. At least that is the perception. In 2015, police killed at least 102 unarmed black people, here are some of their names and photos according to Nearly 1 in 3 black people shot and killed were identified as unarmed. Out of the 102 killings, only 10 resulted to an officer being charged with a crime and only two deaths resulted to convictions of officers involved and only one resulted to jail time. The only officer convicted last year was sentenced to jail for the killing of Nigerian student Matthew Ajibade who died while in police custody. Video showed officers viciously attacking Ajibabe, who appeared to be resisting their orders but was clearly outnumbered. The sentence: 1 year in jail to be served exclusively over the weekend. That is quite some punishment for taking somebody’s life.

There is a lot of evidence that police do not seem to have any restraint in using lethal force when dealing with black people. There are many examples where armed non-black criminals have succeeded in not getting fatally shot despite threatening police officers with a gun or actually killing people. The latest of such example is the failed New York bomber and accused terrorist Ahmad Rahami where police made every effort to arrest him despite knowing he had orchestrated a bombing attempt in New York and New Jersey and shooting a police officer while he was getting arrested. It gets worse, Dylan Roof, the hate-filled Charleston mass murderer was treated to a free Burger King hamburger by the police on his way to jail despite killing nine innocent people in Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. James Holmes, the Aurora movie theater mass murderer is still alive but behind bars, despite slaughtering in cold-blood 12 people and injuring more than 70 others. Jared Lee Loughner, the 2011 Tuscon shooter who killed 6 people and severely injured former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was also arrested and not killed by police despite him attacking people in a gathering attended by a congresswoman.

It is remarkable that in all these instances, police did not get scared or fearful for their lives and shot the perpetrator but instead they engaged in great police work and made an arrest allowing the judicial process to take place.

It’s time for every American to stand up and hold police accountable.

Betty Shelby has been identified as the shooting officer.

Mr. Crutcher leaves behind four children.

Investigation is ongoing.

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