Racism, Police Brutality, or a Bad Day?
Welcome to Willow’s weekly coffee and tea garden. My name is Paul; I’ll be your barista today. I’m happy to see you have come for a cuppa and a chat. Please come into the garden and make yourself comfortable. Willow fluffed the cushions on the chairs and set the tables in the garden so we can have a cuppa and chat as we soak up the sun and enjoy the beautiful plants. As usual, I’d be pleased to bring a pot of whatever beverage you prefer – we have a wide range of teas and coffees to satisfy our world-wide readership. Also available is a large selection of spirits for addition to your cuppa or in its place. We can relax amongst the flowers while we discuss the affairs of the week both personal and/or worldwide. How has your week been?
So, the big news item here this week has been the death of Sandra Bland, a young black woman, in her Texas jail cell, where she ended up after failing to signal a lane change. That sounds absolutely ludicrous, I know, and yet it is true. The police say she was arrested for assaulting a police officer after a traffic stop went bad. And that once in jail, she committed suicide on the 3rd day. Her family says that Sandra was upbeat, not suicidal, and had just moved to Texas from Illinois to start a new job at the university where she had graduated some years before. They suggest that Sandra’s death was not suicide. One of the best coverages I’ve seen so far, including the dash-cam videos from the original arrest, is on CNN see here
If We Were Having Coffee
Would you like another cuppa? Perhaps a sweet? I spent many years on the road and have been stopped by and involved with police and other officials like weight enforcement officers and customs officers, a great deal. When I watched the dash-cam video of the traffic stop that initiated Sandra’s death, I cringed. There was no doubt from early on that the incident was going to escalate and come to a bad end. Typically, of the two people involved – the officer and the citizen – one or the other will take steps to stop escalation. Personally, I always tried to be that person, rather than depending on the officer to back down. In this instance, neither the officer nor Sandra backed down. The officer always has the upper hand as he/she represents the law and their word will be taken over the citizen’s word. In the vast majority of videos I have seen of traffic stops, when the citizen is upset or angry, the officer will reduce the escalation, while still giving the ticket. They are supposedly trained for this and yet this was not what happened in the Sandra Bland traffic stop.
Many media outlets are saying that this is yet another example of how blacks are treated differently and unfairly by law officers. Perhaps this is true – if it happens more often to blacks than whites. In my opinion, this traffic stop, taken on its own, had little to do with race and simply reflects the bad end that occurs when both the officer and the citizen are upset or angry. It escalated to a shoving match which then became an assault charge.
How about a re-fill of your cuppa? Remember all of our sweets are calorie free – so dig in. I was called into a dept of highway scale one day while trucking. I was asked to produce my paperwork and I complied. There was a problem that came from the way the shipper had filled out my bills of lading and I was upset as I had specifically told them how to do it and then I had failed to check to see if they had complied – and they had not. I was completely legal and yet my paperwork indicated that I was illegal. This caused undue problems that resulted in my swearing in front of the scale officer. He immediately backed off and asked if I was having a hard day. I was so surprised by his change of tone that I had to ask what had precipitated it. He admitted that he and the other officers had just undergone training on how to recognize and de-escalate potentially hazardous situations. He wouldn’t elaborate. After about an hour of phone calls and getting new bills of lading faxed with apologies from the shipper, I was free to go.
I began inquiring of the grapevine as to why the Kelly Lake scale officers had been putthrough sensitivity training. The answer was quite amusing, if not in a peaceful way. Apparently some weeks before, an upset driver had been called into the scale as I was. Through no fault of his own, his truck was illegal and the officer was abusive verbally. The driver, a very large man, snapped and reached across the counter, grabbed the officer by his jacket, pulled him screaming over the counter and hit him so hard the officer lost consciousness. There were numerous witnesses and although the driver was charged with assault, all the witnesses made it clear in court that had the officer responded differently, the whole situation would have been avoided. The judge was not pleased with the actions of the officers and ordered sensitivity training. Ha! The driver was found guilty but his punishment was reduced due to extenuating circumstances.
Interior of Sandra’s Cell here
The sort of encounter that initiated the Sandra Bland situation is not uncommon and is not a function of race. What happened after that, in her case though, is, so far a mystery. The officials show camera footage of the outside of Sandra’s cell that makes it clear that no one entered or left her cell from the time she was last checked until she was found dead, hanging by a garbage bag from an overhead bar. Fellow inmates in nearby cells also testified that no one entered Sandra’s cell and that Sandra was distraught and crying constantly, suggesting she may have taken her own life. She had no criminal record and no record of any mental health problems – although she had mentioned on her Facebook page that she was depressed and suffering from PTSD. An investigation has been launched.
On that note, that’s about all we have room for this week, so it’s time to settle in with another cuppa and enjoy the garden. Sweets anyone? Please join me in thanking Willow for her invitation to tea. We are all honored that you dropped by today to visit. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and the conversation and please look around at Willow’s other posts while you’re here. Willow is over there serving her guests and chatting it up. Let’s go see how she is today. Have a great week. We look forward to seeing you back here forsweets and beverages of your choice again next week.
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35 thoughts on “If We Were Having Coffee – July 26/2015 Racism, Police Brutality, or a Bad Day?”
Thank You very much for the opportunity to guest post Willow. It is always a pleasure to be asked to guest here for you. I hope that you and your family are well and wish you a healthy and prosperous week.
you are very welcome Paul.
Hi Paul,a very interesting post as ever, what a terrible story, so sad to loose a young and promising person. I do believe that the police world wide need to take a step back and concider training on situation management!
I was interested to read your experiences and hear your take on the sad affair.
I hope all is well with you and that you have a good week ahead! I am afraid I could not find your photo for the ” Show your papers” so I found one that I hope will surfice.
Thanks again for a great post! willow xxxx
Thanks so much Willow. The picture you substituted is actually better than the original I had. I wanted a free pic of the inside looking out but could not find one that fit the title I wanted – from the officer’s perspective. You did find the perfect picture.
My experience is that some police officers could benefit from more sensitivity training. Perhaps that is a factor in what some are saying is racism – that the officer didn’t feel obliged to treat Sandra with respect – but I’ve seen it happen and had it happen to me – the exact same situation, and I backed down, whereas Sandra did not. To my mind, the person with the most power in any situation- the officer in this case – has the moral responsibility to control the situation and whenever there is an escalation, it is the power-holder who I deem responsible. That said, to me the end game is always to drive away with no ticket and if that means I have to say Yes, Sir; No, Sir, then so be it. I hold my self personally responsible for the outcome while I hold the person with the power morally responsible.
The vast majority of officers that I have encountered have been very respectful and professional – but there are still some exceptions out there. 🙂
It is a difficult situation but it must be addressed. Too many people have been mistreated and even killed . Something must be done before things get worse. Not everyone is as patient or clever as you. xxxx
I appreciate the tone and reasonableness of the author’s attempt to dissect this incident. I don’t know where the author lives, but, it certainly isn’t in this country, the US.
Blacks in this country are DEFINITELY targeted by police; this is not supposition, it is statistical fact, and, as a citizen of the US, I can tell you first hand, racism is not only alive and well in every level of society here, it is embedded in the very laws we live under. Even a cursory examination of the percentages of demography of the inhabitants of prison shows this. As well, though white, I have witnessed literally hundreds of examples of racism in the police in this country.
ONE statistic: In Chicago, blacks make up 72% of the traffic stops, even though the population of the city is only 42%…. That’s ONE city. In the North, where racism isn’t supposed to exist.
They, the police in most cities, counties, etc. have militarized to the point of ridiculousness; it is clear they have come to regard the public, the people they are supposed to protect and serve, as their enemy.
I repeat… This is fact, not supposition.
Take a closer look, and try to remember, every mainstream news outlet you see on TV, or in a major country’s government, is repeating exactly the lies they’ve been instructed to repeat…. and, the evidence is right there on You Tube, every day…
Try again, sir. Your conclusions are not connected to the real situation we, and YOU, face, for the problem exists in your own country, as well… no matter which one it may be….
Sorry for the rant, Willow, I couldn’t leave this one alone. It’s just not true; the entire incident WAS racially motivated, and the entire approach by the police was WRONG, for creating the situation in the first place. The police are the worst offenders in every city and county in the US, when it comes to signaling ANY kind of change, whether a lane change, or a turn, even when just cruising without lights or sirens…
I’m done, but, unfortunately, the nightmare for our black brothers and sisters is not..
I do agree the police are becoming extremely draconian. Paul is a Canadian and I don’t know but I get the feeling that they are not as harsh as the US police. Have a cuppa and some cake Paul will be with you in a short while . Rant on my friend you are always welcome. 🙂
They do have a better reputation, mostly, but, have fallen prey to the same set of violent delusions of entitlement now. The RCMP recently shot and killed a protester wearing an Anonymous hacker mask, at a protest; the man actually WAS a member of the hackers…. Now the group is threatening to publish a large number of documents they’ve been collecting re: Canadian gov. lies… so, as I said, they have the same problems all over the world right now…. The oligarchs have taken off the gloves, and aren’t hiding so well any more….
Thanks, m’dear, I’d have to anyway; it’s that, or explode on somebody undeserving….
It is such a sad world! Sometimes I feel we are all going to hell in a handcart. The pain and the hurt and the prejudice brings me to tears!
Sadly, me, too… almost daily, when I read the latest atrocity in the news….
Nothing ever improves! 😦
Good afternoon gigoid. Well, well, well, you make some interesting points. I have no doubt that racism is rampant in the US, and I didn’t say other wise. You see I had colon cancer and when I was first diagnosed, I wanted to know the percentages – how many survived and how many died. My doctors were unanimous in discouraging this perspective and made the point that each individual person reacted entirely differently to the cancer and the treatment. That the percentage survival rate for colon cancer did not apply to me or any individual until such time as it had been determined if I were going to live or die – in other words at least 5 years after I had been declared cancer free or my death certificate had been signed, whichever came first.
You see racism is exactly the same. You cannot say that racism is rampant – and of course prove it with statistics, none of which I debate – and then state that means the traffic stop of one black woman by a white cop was therefore racially motivated. I know many good cops who do not act in a racist manner. AND i have been stopped, as a Caucasian middle aged male, and treated with gross disrespect by police. Even antagonized in an attempt to get me to swing at one or escalate. I have even been called abusive names by police in an effort to to get a reaction from me.
Poor police work does not automatically mean racism. Some twisted cops get a sexual thrill of power from abusing others – of all races. I know this from personal experience. Even your very own argument “…they have come to regard the public, the people they are supposed to protect and serve, as their enemy.” recognizes that all abuse is not racist. But then, in contradiction to your own statement you then say “…the entire incident WAS racially motivated…” .
The self-contradiction as well as the statement of fact concerning the sure knowledge of the mind set of another human when they acted, together seriously weaken your argument. I do not disagree with your statistics – I very much disagree with your conclusions, as do some of the best cops who really care.
Thanks so much for dropping by gigoid. It is great to hear opposing opinions – I enjoy it. Please come by again and check out Willow’s poetry and posts while you are here – she is an awesome poet and observer of life..
Thanks for the measured response(s); I do become a bit assertive when I’m convinced… all to human, eh?…
This will be short; my daily bout with pain is beginning, so, I’ll try to answer this later, when I can get to it…. You do make a valid point re: statistics; they can be made to indicate anything. They do provide data, though, which, when combined with other observations and information, can point to probable cause and effect scenarios that are pretty easy to prognosticate, or calculate for trends… The documentation for my assertions is available to anyone online, or in the library, and most of it is NOT statistical… Much of it is video, which is pretty unarguable, for the most part…
I know Socrates and Plato weren’t terribly impressed with democracy, for good reason… but, we in the US, and you in Canada, both have had an opportunity to make it work, which is (not so) slowly being abrogated by the oligarchists… as it has been since those days in Greece and Rome… In my post today, I included a quote from Abe Lincoln lamenting the status of the economic takeover during his era…
I gotta go now, for a time; it’s getting hard to think, and type… I’ll be back; this is fun. I don’t believe we’re as far apart in this as you think…
Oh, and, I know about Willow; I’ve been following her since I started blogging on WordPress almost four years ago… She’s a very special lady in my world….
Take care, amigo, and keep on thinking!…. Not enough people do so nowadays…
I have seen this type of officer in my interactions with law enforcement at hospitals and in the clinical setting. There are plenty, in fact the vast majority, who are respectful and good at what they do, but there is a subset who try to escalate situations, I believe, because it gives them a hard on to have that kind of power. I have watched it happen time and again. I have also witnessed this same type of individual in mental health settings. They provoked patients to escalate behavior until they could justify doing a “take down”. Body cams and dash cams hopefully will help weed out these kinds of people in law enforcement. I hope supervisors will be reviewing the film to address that kind of behavior before we have another Sandra Bland. There are plenty of people walking around with their own trauma in their lives and they don’t come with labels and they don’t deserve to die.
I totally agree with you. Do have a cuppa Paul is on his way. xxx
Thanks so much for dropping by with a comment Victo. You are right, the bad ones are really bad – and yet they are very careful that they escalate without actually doing anything illegal. And you are right, they get a sexual thrill from escalating until they have to use physical force on the other person. With night sticks, tazers, guns and a badge there is no hope that anyone will win but the officers. And the officers can be as violent as they want and attribute it to resisting arrest whereas if a citizen even touches an officer, they can be and are charged with assault.
When I was safety officer for a tanker company and was in charge of hiring, I used to come across drivers who drove that way – they had to use the truck to bully and threaten other drivers to feel like they had power – and it was sexual, no doubt. I hired none of them, believe me. In my mind when you drive a tractor-trailer because you have the larger vehicle, you have the power and it is your responsibility to use it to keep others safe. You never escalate and when someone else does, you back off to keep them safe. When someone cuts you off, you give them more space, so they can’t do it again, you don’t tailgate and look for a chance to run them off the road.
And that is what some cops do who are looking to use their authority to escalate so they can beat and arrest citizens. It gives them sexual satisfaction. Obviously this is a psychological issue with individuals and I doubt very much if you would find it to be systemic in police forces in the US or Canada. That said, more needs to be done to weed out those aberrant individual officers who think think way.
Thanks so much for the sizzling comment Victo. 😀
I have been a polymath all my life and have studied society for over 55 years… Also, I was a psychiatric technician for 17 years, and worked with the mentally ill for almost 30 years. In those years, I’ve watched as what you describe as aberrant police behavior, in the minority, has gone from anomaly, to consistent routine…and, my own best guess of the number of officers who are NOT qualified to wear a badge is closer to 65 to 75%, with FAR too many racists and bigots in positions of actual command… Sheriff, Chief, Division head, Special Agent, etc…
Yes, those officers are insane, clinically, but, with what is called a personality disorder. The disorder of which you speak is MUCH MORE prevalent amongst the police forces of our country than you are aware of, my friend… If you were at all in touch with the actual numbers involved you could not make this statement, to wit:
“Obviously this is a psychological issue with individuals and I doubt very much if you would find it to be systemic in police forces in the US or Canada.”
I’m sorry, but, it IS systemic, and has been growing so for over 50 years…. Do you not remember the 60’s when police first began to show their truer colors during demonstrations, beating and gassing the CHILDREN citizens who were legally exercising their Constitutional rights? It wasn’t Constitutional then, and it isn’t now. Nor is “cruel and unusual punishment”, and when the police are the ones who are always in control of any interaction with the public, there is no true liberty, at all, for there is no rule of law, but the officer’s whim…. his very dangerously armed whim…
“A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both, and deserve neither”. — Thomas Jefferson
This is EXACTLY what has happened, right before your very eyes, right here in the good old USA, AND in “Canada, O’ Canada”, as well…. I believe the RCMP just shot and killed one of the Anonymous hackers, who was acting legally at a major protest, did they not? And, are they now not lying through their teeth about it?… Why yes, they are…
You seem to have the basic idea; why is is so hard for you to accept it is a fait acompli? Both of our countries have been usurped, taken over by oligarchists, who care for nothing in the world but themselves….
gigoid has spoken… and is willing to furnish documented evidence for any assertions made….
Take care. my friend, and good luck…
gigoid. the dubious
Ahhh, gigoid, now you’re talking. 😀 Social direction and behavior is a very different topic from the behaviour of individuals. As far as our society trading freedom for security – you missed by a few thousand years. Over 2,500 years ago Plato said through Socrates in the Republic. that this is exactly what happens always to a democracy and inevitably degenerates to a dictatorship when the few wealthy place one person in charge who will protect their wealth. Even the drafters of your very own Declaration of Independence – a much beloved and cherished document – stated clearly that when the government ceases to serve the needs of the people , that it is not only the right but the responsibility of the people to remove that government and replace it with one that does serve the people. Why haven’t you guys done that yet? It is pretty apparent to me that the US government stopped serving the people some time ago – don’t you think it is time to remove and replace it? 😀
My time on the net for commenting is at an end for today, & possibly longer, but, I will respond further… You also make excellent points, and I think we are much in agreement, with only a difference in the belief as to the degree of the problem… I do, in fact, believe it’s time to change; Tom Jefferson warned us, and would not want us to go so long without doing so… The trouble is breaking through the programming so ubiquitous in my fellow citizens…
See the other comment, as well…
The situation with Bland is very, very sad. It certainly could have been avoided. But I must also agree with the previous commenter on the ways that institutionalized racism created the situation here.
I agree too
Hi Diana! Thanks so much for dropping by for a read and comment. Personally, although I agree that racism is rampant, I do not think it follows that every time a white cop stops a black person that their motivation is racial. I would posit that blacks are just as likely to break the law as whites are – hence just as many blacks should be stopped for traffic violations as are whites. Obviously more blacks than whites are stopped, but that only indicates that there is racism present. not that every stop is racist.
It is very easy to paint every cop with the same racist brush but it is not true and I know that from personal experience. If one were to assume that every white on black traffic stop was racist then the obvious way to fix this would be for police to no longer stop and ticket any blacks – only whites. Does that sound like a good thing to do? Would that improve the safety on the roads?
Thanks so much for the visit Diana, I enjoy hearing your comments. 🙂
Every time? Probably not. But most times Yes.
There are far more African-Americans incarcerated than white Americans. That is not because they commit more crime but a host of reasons, including institutionalized racism that has existed since the country’s founding and is still in place. It’s because of poverty, racial profiling, and a multitude of other complicating factors.
Note that I don’t speak for other countries, because I think that’s silly. But the U.S. has a real, calculable problem with racism, and one of the places it is obvious is in how black citizens are often treated by authority figures, especially police.
Indeed there is institutionalized racism and yet there are authority figures who do not practice prejudice – and painting them with the same brush is dangerous as it negates any possible pathways to address the problem. In all honesty the world (and universe) tends toward disorganization – entropy is the driving force and that promotes chaos. I see it as our jobs as individuals to bring integration and integrity to this universe. If you are one of Faith then you know that the Bible says that only a few will enter heaven. And so it is with our society in general – there is far more racism and hatred than there is acceptance and love.It is not useful to say that all authority is racist. It is useful to point out racism when it rears its head. I do not have rose colored glasses, nor am I willing to paint all cops and authority as racist.
Thanks so much for your thoughts on this discussion Diana. It is always energizing to hear opposing points of view. 😀
Again, no one has said, “everyone.” That’s a bit rich. In all honesty, as someone who lives in the U.S., I am aware of the way our country used legalized slavery, segregation, discrimination and then a host of other, illegal means—lynchings, beatings, rapings, intimidation–to crush black Americans.
What is not useful is to deny that by saying “not all people” and misdirecting arguments. Well no, not all people. That was not under discussion, and it’s a misdirection. The system, yes. The system, in the U.S. in particular, is broken and racist. As someone who actually lives here, in the middle of the deep South, I don’t take “opposing views” on that.
I used to truck in Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and such Diana. As such I saw the race issue from the perspective of the warehouses and the industry and the farms – and it was bad then. So very terrible that it was hard to find even a single person who did not hate all persons of other colors. And the whites were always the bosses and always looked down on the black and Latino workers. Believe me I am not looking at this through rose colored glasses or from a distance without personal experience.
I appreciate your comments. Thank you.
Absolutely HORRIFYING! I can’t press “like.” There should be a button for terrible things. I feel so awful about the loss of this woman.
Yes so true. Paul is on his way.
Hi H&R! Thank you so much for dropping by. This death has made a lot of headlines and rightfully so. It is horrifying for sure. There are many who say this is simply racism and perhaps it is. I do know that I have seen similar escalations happen to whites and I personally have had encounters where I had to back down and placate the officer or I would have ended up in prison. What happened in prison is still under investigation.
Thanks so much for dropping by and leaving a comment. Please come by again.
The relationship between authority officers and citizens is always going to be fraught with tension, Paul, and I think it’s up to the police to set a less-charged tone if possible from the start. However, is the everyday person still reacts emotionally and with moves that appear threatening … Yes, there’s danger involved for all.
I’m with you on this Mark, but I am not sure our view is generally accepted. Giving one group legal authority and power over another is a necessity to keep order and will always be open to abuse when the wrong folks get in there. There is no doubt that racism exists and is even predominant. To me that does not mean that every time a white cop stops a black person that it is racist. That said, it should be clear to everyone that you do not annoy or talk back to an officer. Ever. When I watched the dash cam video of the stop, it was apparent to me that bad things were going to happen because both Sandra and the police officer were on edge.
Anyway, it is so sad that she was arrested and imprisoned and then died. I mean really, did the cop have to be so hard? Sure, charge her for assault but why wasn’t she released on her own recognizance? She had no criminal record. Regardless of what proof is offered many will never believe that she committed suicide, if that is what happened. And how do you ever prove that no one killed her? Recordings can be doctored and witnesses paid off if so desired.
This whole mess grew out of the original confrontation – after all the cop was only giving her a warning to start anyway. When things like this get started they quickly snowball out of control very quickly.
Anyway, thank you for dropping by Mark and leaving a comment.
I agree with you Paul. There are bad thinkers and actors on both sides of this equation, as well as great people who are honest and full of integrity that should never be stereotyped by the other side. It is so unfortunate that every incident such as this gives those that lean toward mistrust more ammunition, because the tapes speak loudly and can and will be interpreted broadly according to one’s predisposition going into the viewing. Tough world we live in, for cool heads to prevail. I hope still.
I agree 100% Mark. That said, I have taken a lot of flack from those who say that every time a white cop stops a black person it is a racist action. I don’t believe that any more than I believe the police who say there is no racism. As you say, it is a rough world out there Mark. 🙂