I clicked on the video of the South Carolina police officer murdering Walter Scott by shooting the fifty year old veteran father in the back though I refuse to watch any of the ISIS beheading videos. The video of Scott’s murder was as grotesque as I imagine the ISIS videos to be, but I think the reason I watched this one was in the hope that I might somehow understand what happened. I don’t. And now I can’t not think about Walter Scott’s family having this horrific event captured on video and pasted all over the internet as just another notch in the belt of police brutalizing black lives.
The South Carolina police chief is quoted as saying the officer who shot Walter Scott “made a mistake”. A mistake is defined as an action that is “misguided” or “wrong”, such as a misunderstanding or oversight. A mistake implies that if someone had all the correct information that they wouldn’t have made the same decision. Under the presumption that the officer who murdered Scott made a “mistake”, the only thing I can see that the officer would have done differently under the circumstances was to notice that another human being was filming his contemptible actions. “Getting caught” is the officer’s only mistake, as that action is the only “mistake” he would likely have changed if the video had never come to light.
The white officer made a conscious choice to kill Walter Scott. That’s one key difference between regular citizens and the police – power. The one with power gets to make the choice. It’s right there in the definition. The officer knew Walter Scott was unarmed, which is why he appears to have planted a taser after relaying that as the reason he shot Scott. He didn’t make a mistake about whether Scott posed a threat to the officer. Walter Scott didn’t pose any such threat. He didn’t misunderstand that a human life was bleeding out as he cuffed the dying man’s wrists. WTF is that, anyway? I know it’s for show, but the lengths of theater some will go to in the face of actual tragedy is mind-numbing. If some officers put as much effort into protecting citizens as they did to covering their asses, we might have a fine police presence in this country. The officer found time to plant a taser nearby but couldn’t administer CPR to an obviously dying and thoroughly incapacitated man? Where does that callous disregard emanate from? Is it arrogance? Is it learned or innate? Is it hatred or simply evil?
Thanks for doing your job, asshole
The police were not quick to condemn the officer’s actions, as some media outlets have reported. The first statements from the police were already pushing the narrative that Walter Scott fought with the officer over the taser and wrested control of it leaving the officer to fear for his life. The South Carolina police department only distanced themselves from the officer when arguably incontrovertible evidence surfaced that they could not spin to their advantage, destroy or plant in the grass near Scott’s body. We should not commend the police for saying the obvious after a video leaves little room for nuance. Fuck that noise.
I am also reminded of the recently-disgraced, suddenly unemployed Ferguson court clerk Mary Ann Twitty’s recent comments. The poor lady expressed sad regret that the racist emails she sent “got out because they made me look terrible.” Yes, Mary Ann, they made you look terrible because it was terrible of you to have sent them. It is further terrible that you can’t muster the grace, honesty or humanity to say, “I’m sorry I sent racist emails. I thought they were funny at the time but I now understand how hurtful they are and how they perpetuate ignorance and lies about specific races of people.”
I’m trying to see this turn of events as positive but I just can’t get there today. Racist court clerks being fired for doing racist things, a policeman being charged with murder after murdering a human being only because he got caught red-handed. I can’t help but remember that arrest does not a conviction make. Similarly, cynicism reigning supreme right now, I assume Mary Ann Twitty will land a job in no time or become the tearful recipient of yet another racist GoFundMe campaign.