Police Terror, Racism and the Rocky Road to US Apartheid

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This week's fatal shootings of two African Americans by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana, and Thursday's sniper attack in Dallas that left five area police officers dead and seven others injured, has laid bare the war of narratives that is at the heart of an increasingly polarized US.


IN DEPTH:
Police Killing of Black People in the US: A New Terrorism?

At issue is the Rashomon-like perceptions of who, exactly, is terrorizing who, in an America that to the rest of the world resembles apartheid South Africa more and more each day.

“You see them saying that there’s no profiling, but there is,” said Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, who was shot to death by police on Wednesday in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. “We’re being hunted every day. It’s a silent war against African-American people as a whole.”

"The idea that the police are a major cause of black mortality is nonsense," the conservative American Spectator wrote in an opinion article. "The police extend black lifespans by protecting black neighborhoods from blacks."

The police, the Spectator went on to write, are "the heroes of the Black community" and "the real stars."

Castile's slaying occurred one day after police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana fatally shot a 37-year-old African-American father of five, Anton Sterling, who was selling bootleg CDs in a store parking lot. A videotape shows that two officers tasered Sterling, wrestled him to the ground, then shot him in the chest multiple times.


The video of Sterling's confrontation with two white police officers has become a Rorshach test for the differing racial lenses through which white people and people of color see the world. Some whites have insisted on cable news and in social media that police could be seen removing a gun from Sterling's pants pockets as he lay fatally wounded. Meanwhile, people of color—including friends and relatives who knew him well—insist that he either did not have a gun, or never threatened officers with it.



While many scholars and writers in the U.S. contend that police, in most instances, are merely responding to Black criminality, people of color are mindful that the data does not support this. As the author Michelle Alexander and others have pointed out, African Americans use drugs and commit serious criminal offenses less frequently than white people on a per-capita basis, but represent nearly half of the prison population in the United States.

Hence, the criminalization of Black people and Latinos in the United States is nothing more than economic exploitation, in which whites accumulate profits from cheap prison labor much as slave owners did.

RELATED:
At Least 5 Officers Shot Dead at Dallas Police Brutality March

"The murder of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana and all across the country" read a Facebook post from one African American Thursday, "has nothing to do with our depravity, and everything to do with theirs."

In a series of tweets following Thursday's shootings, former Illinois Republican Congressman Joe Walsh wrote that "Black Lives Matter should be classified as a hate group."

But an African American writing in the comments section of a New York Times article on the the Dallas shooting wrote of a very different hate: "I'm tired of having to argue my humanity to you. But most of all, tired of looking into the faces of my little boys, and feeling like I have to extinguish their joy, their exuberance, because you think 'Black men are more dangerous than men of other races.' My boys like Pokemon, probably like your boys. My boys play soccer, probably like your boys. My boys are bright, and curious and gifted, probably like your boys.

But my boys will be hunted. Will yours?"

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/Police-Terror-Racism-and-the-Rocky-Road-to-US-Apartheid-20160708-0008.html
 

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