Thursday, June 17, 2010

When was the last time you thought it was ok to assault a cop?

If you said ‘never’, then apparently you’re misinformed. However, if you think this is something to do on a daily basis, then welcome to Seattle, WA! If you haven’t heard the story yet, I’ll link you to it. There’s been so much buzz about it, it’s already getting hard to find some of the original stories that broke on it, so if you follow any news, you should have heard something about it by now. Again, if you haven’t heard, and if you also don’t like to follow links, I’ll summarize, hopefully neutrally before I tell you what I think.
(Video after the jump)

Two African-American, teenage women jaywalk in a high enforcement area near a high school, though there is apparently a pedestrian overpass nearby to avoid such action. The teens are not affiliated with the high school and are not students there. A Caucasian police officer calls to them to stop, yet the two girls continue on. The cop follows and grabs the older of the two girls, 19, by the arm to stop her. She fights back, so the officer decides to arrest her for obstructing justice. The other girl, 17, then comes to her aid by pushing the officer, who then winds up, takes a swing, and hits the 17-year old squarely in the face. Meanwhile, a group of bystanders has gathered to watch the incident, including a young man with a camcorder. He records much of this scene and beyond, once things have settled. Besides throwing punches, expletives and slurs are also handed out, many on the part of the two girls just mentioned.

I think that about covers what happened, but I still suggest you watch the video of it yourself. Apparently, the complete, uncensored, unedited video has been sold to Inside Edition, and will be available everywhere soon enough. Now for some of the varied reactions I’ve heard in response. There is a huge rift in support between those in favor of the cop and those in favor of the girls. Some think the officer was doing what he was trained, required, and expected to do, and others feel he was a racist and got off on just punching the girl because she was black, or in general used excessive force, either because the teen was just that, or that she was a woman (i.e. if it had been a 30-something man, they would have been more likely to back him up).

Here’s my take on it, leaving out all the bits about the girls’ histories, since the officer did not know anything about them before this took place: The cop was surrounded by the inkling of a mob (the crowd, not the girls), and was assaulted by one individual while trying to subdue another. Not knowing what else is about to transpire, I know that I, myself would have likely done the same. Some people have hyper analyzed the video and came to the conclusion that he had enough time before striking the girl to stop and realize what he was about to do - I disagree. In the moment, with adrenaline pumping, those kinds of critical, rational decisions can be tough, if not impossible, to make.

Moreover, if he had the time to stop and think about the next few moments with clarity, he may have also come to the conclusion that his life was in danger. He did not know whether or not either of these women were armed, with or without a lethal weapon, and he was being attacked. Just because the girl was 17 does not mean at all that she would never carry a gun or knife, and who’s to say that the officer could have immediately identified the girl as a minor in that short time? It shouldn’t matter who the assailant is, if the cop has to defend himself from an unknown amount of danger, then he may take whatever action would be necessary. What would those same people say if the girl, not even armed, had managed to grab his gun, turn it on him, and take his life? Thankfully, the actions of this man prevented us from finding out.

And to those who say this attack was racially founded, it’s just not. It doesn’t even matter if the guy was racist. He was being attacked, and he chose to defend himself. If a non-white individual walks past a white supremacist on the street, and nothing happens, then nothing happens. If the WS takes a swing at the other person, who then retaliates, who is the racist? If the other person punches first, who then? People need to get some perspective about the situation before calling this a racist encounter. I’m not going to pretend racism doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean every time something happens between two people of different ethnic backgrounds, it’s based on racism.

If you think I am wrong, PLEASE post a comment. I can’t wait to hear how you came to your conclusions.

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