Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Twilight Zone: #WalterScott Edition

What an odd situation...We all know that Walter Scott was killed by Officer Michael Slager. That is not the odd part.

According to a police report of the incident, Officer Michael Slager stopped him for a broken tail light, things got heated, and Mr. Scott was shot dead because he tried to take Officer Slager’s taser. Officer Slager feared for his life. According to the camera video of the incident, Walter Scott was running away from Officer Slager, when Officer Slager shot him in the back 8 times, handcuffed Scott’s inanimate body, dropped a taser-shaped object next to him and reported shots fired. See, black men are so scary, when they’re running away from you, they look threatening. When we’re dead, you STILL have to lock us up! So Slager likely falsified his police report to exonerate himself from punishment. That is not odd either.

Here is the odd part: Slager was fired, arrested, and charged with felony murder. The other odd part: contrary to the regular protocol whenever an unarmed black man or a woman is the victim of violence, Walter Scott’s character has not been assassinated in any major news sources*. Yes, his arrest record and problems with paying child support have been reported, but they are part of a broad picture of who Walter Scott was. He was also engaged to be married. He was also in the US Coast Guard and was honourably discharged. The only pictures I have seen of him are of him in his military uniform or a suit. Not one old mug shot has been posted.

Another odd turn of events: Michael Slager’s character is being scrutinized QUITE harshly. For a while, the only picture of Michael Slager one could find was that of his mug shot. Usually, news sources go out of their way to find a nice, clean cut picture. Many are talking about the report brought against him in 2013 involving another unarmed black man. Not many people are talking about his time in the US Coast Guard. Even his lawyer abandoned him.

Right now, the media is treating the deceased like a human being, and the accused like a human being who did something very bad. No one is hailing Walter Scott as an angel, and no one is demonizing Michael Slager. They are both being treated quite fairly by news outlets**. We may have all entered the Twilight Zone.

Here is the problem: That is all we wanted! We want to be treated like human beings, not feral animals! That was the point of all the protests last summer. That was the point of all the voter drives, the die-ins, the highway blockings, the chants in parks. We never hated the police. We hated the brutality.

I am not naive to think that this will be the ultimate turning point, because that is not how the world works. When there is an established modus operandi, turning 180 does not happen overnight. The fact is that had someone not shot video of the incident, Slager would be free right now, and the media WOULD have been playing up Scott’s paltry arrest record. For each incident caught on camera or recorder, there are likely three more that go unpunished.

Juries and trial dates have not been set, so it would not be wise to claim that justice is served quite yet, but this is one of the few times that the system has gotten this for so quickly. The fact that these events are “major progress” is fucking pathetic. There is so much more work to do.

*I don't consider Fox News a "news source".
**Again, Fox News.

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