Apr 20, 2015

The Police Killed Him

Updated - "Last week I was in Madison, Wisconsin, where I was informed of the killing of Tony Robinson by a police officer. Robinson was high on mushrooms. The police were summoned after he chased a car. The police killed him. A month earlier, I'd been thinking a lot about Anthony Hill, who was mentally ill. One day last month, Hill stripped off his clothes and started jumping off of his balcony. The police were called. They killed him. I can't see the image of Tamir Rice aimlessly kicking snow outside the Cleveland projects and think of how little we invest in occupying the minds of children. A bored Tamir Rice decided to occupy his time with a airsoft gun. He was killed."

So notes Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic in a piece in mid-April, commenting on the already 100s of killings by police in 2015. [Update: New day, new police killing: See Sherman, Kaltenbach and Campbell, the Baltimore Sun with video: "What we know is that while in police custody for committing no crime — for which they had no justification for making the arrest except he was a black man running — his spine was virtually severed, 80 percent severed, in the neck area," attorney Murphy said. He called Freddie Gray's injuries "catastrophic."] Cops broke a 25-year-old man's spine virtually into two, he was killed.

Madison police chief Mike Koval ought to consider what police killing is the next time Koval opens his mouth.

Asks Coates: "[I]n this time of heightened concern around the policing, a more essential question might be, 'Were we justified in sending them?' At some point, Americans decided that the best answer to every social ill lay in the power of the criminal-justice system. Vexing social problems—homelessness, drug use, the inability to support one's children, mental illness—are presently solved by sending in men and women who specialize in inspiring fear and ensuring compliance. Fear and compliance have their place, but it can't be every place."

I would not look to police for answers. As an institution, police tend to be anti-intellectual, careerist and authoritarian in their psychology. And duplicitous and tribal.

This is because police departments are self-selecting, attracting someone capable and inclined to kill people.

This does NOT appear be lost on the folks who knew Tony Robinson.

Unfortunately, for Madison this fact does escape the police chief branding himself as reformist, now openly attacking a protesting community objecting to the police killing Robinson.

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