Ferguson is a suburb of the city of St. Louis.
In St. Louis proper, 4 miles from the Ferguson shooting, this has just recently transpired: after being seen doing some minor shoplifting, 25 year old Kajieme Powell was defiant toward police, refused to drop a steak knife he apparently had in his hands, and within 20 seconds of police arrival, they shoot him dead. What you are about to watch is a man being gunned down by the police. For real. Then they handcuff his dead body.
More details are here at St. Louis Public Radio, but what I find most damning of all of this, by far, is that the police argue that this video is “exculpatory.”
We have reached the point in the United States where a young man holding a steak knife who won’t drop it as he approaches is not to be tasered, not to be hit with pepper spray, but shot 12 times–essentially meaning both officers completely emptied their guns into him–and this is considered OK by police procedure.
There will I suppose be those who say this was completely justified. I mean, come on, the young man was a thug and he had a knife in his hand and was defiant. He was asking for it, right? Right??
You know, I have family and friends in law enforcement. I used to respect the badge. I’m increasingly reaching the point–a point I do not like much–where if someone says “fuck the police,” I really have no response except a muted, shameful nod.
I will repeat something I said in another essay recently:
When a great mass of people experience a state that does little or nothing that helps them in a way they can see, and experiences only indifference when it’s not outright punishment from that state, what do you think their reaction is eventually going to be? If government is doing a terrible job on helping boys and men, and is frequently hurting them—and it is—why the hell wouldn’t people conscious of these issues start developing a distinct aversion to the state?
What is it that you think is going on in Ferguson, Missouri, right now? If your answer is “race war” or “the n*****s are just acting like thugs again,” please turn around and go find another website to read. The real answer is, it’s people who feel they have no stake whatsoever in the system, and that the state can’t be trusted to do anything but ignore them at best or shoot them dead at worst.
They do not trust the government. Why? Because they have been given no good reason to trust it and a list of reasons a mile long not to trust it.
I don’t think I care to argue with or even much talk to anyone who thinks that this was an appropriate police response to a shoplifting and loosely holding a steak knife walking toward them.
Step away, pepper spray, taser? No. Empty your gun into a man. That apparently is standard police procedure in the United States.
And people wonder why there is widespread hatred of the system and those who are in it or part of it.