Ferguson. Baltimore. Staten Island. North Charleston. Cleveland.
Over the past year in each of these American cities, an unarmed black male has died at the hands of a police officer, unleashing a torrent of anguish and soul-searching about race in America. Despite video evidence in several of the killings, each has spurred more discord than unity.
Grand juries have tended to give the benefit of the doubt to police officers. National polls revealed deep divisions in how whites and blacks viewed the facts in each case. Whites were more likely to believe officers’ accounts justifying the use of force. Blacks tended to see deeper forces at work: longstanding police bias against black men and a presumption that they are criminals.
Then, on Wednesday night, a young white man walked into a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., and joined a group of worshipers as they bowed their heads over their Bibles. He shot and killed nine of them. In his Facebook profile picture, the suspect, Dylann Roof, wore the flags of racist regimes in South Africa and the former Rhodesia.
The massacre at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston was something else entirely from the police killings. But it, too, has become a racial flash point and swept aside whatever ambiguity seemed to muddle those earlier cases, baldly posing questions about race in America: Was the gunman a crazed loner motivated by nothing more than his own madness? Or was he an extreme product of the same legacy of racism that many black Americans believe sent Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and Tamir Rice to their graves?
The debate has already begun.
“I just think he was one of these whacked-out kids,” Senator Lindsey Graham, a white Republican from South Carolina who is running for president, said in a telephone interview with CNN, echoing a sentiment that had begun to blossom. “I don’t think it’s anything broader than that. It’s about a young man who is obviously twisted.“
Mr. Graham later amended his remarks, calling Mr. Roof “a racial jihadist” and saying that the only reason the victims had died was their race.
Bryan Stevenson, a black lawyer who has specialized in death-penalty cases and chronicled the legal system’s unfairness to African-Americans, sees deep and systemic connections between Mr. Roof’s actions and the police killings of black males, as well as the rough actions of a police officer breaking up a pool party in McKinney, Tex.
“This latest violent act is an extreme and terrifying example, but not disconnected from the way black men and boys are treated by police, by schools, by the state,” Mr. Stevenson said in an interview. “The landscape is littered with monuments that talk proudly about the Confederacy and leave no record about the lynchings of the era.”
America is living through a moment of racial paradox. Never in its history have black people been more fully represented in the public sphere. The United States has a black president and a glamorous first lady who is a descendant of slaves. African-Americans lead the country’s pop culture in many ways, from sports to music to television, where show-runners like Shonda Rhimes and Lee Daniels have created new black icons, including the political fixer Olivia Pope on “Scandal” and the music mogul Cookie Lyon on “Empire.”
It has become commonplace to refer to the generation of young people known as millennials as “post-racial.” Black culture has become so mainstream that a woman born to white parents who had claimed to be black almost broke the Internet last week by saying that she was “transracial.”
Yet in many ways, the situation of black America is dire.
“All of these examples in some ways are really misleading in what they represent,” Mr. Stevenson said. “We have an African-American president who cannot talk about race, who is exposed to hostility anytime he talks about race. These little manifestations of black artistry and athleticism and excellence have always existed. But they don’t change the day-to-day experience of black Americans living in most parts of this country.”
A new poll conducted by Quinnipiac finds that the antics of Pat Lynch and the NYC police after the tragic death of two officers have left the population they are supposed to protect with a bad taste in their mouths.
New York City voters, black, white and Hispanic, disapprove 69 - 27 percent of police officers turning their backs on Mayor Bill de Blasio at funerals for two police officers, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
Police union leader Patrick Lynch’s comments that the mayor’s office had blood on its hands are “too extreme,” voters say 77 - 17 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe- ack) University Poll finds. There is no party, gender, racial, borough or age group which finds the comments “appropriate.”
With a big racial division, voters say 47 - 37 percent that Mayor de Blasio’s statements and actions during his 2013 campaign and during his first year in office show he does support police. The mayor supports police, black voters say 69 - 19 percent and Hispanic voters say 53 - 33 percent, while white voters say 49 - 36 percent he does not support police.
Police discipline has broken down, voters say 52 - 38 percent, but voters say 62 - 20 percent that Police Commissioner William Bratton can restore or maintain discipline.
I’m glad that I’m voting by mail this year but not everyone is, and this right here scares the hell out of me. And seeing how many police officers have openly endorsed Trump, having police at polling places doesn’t assure nonwhite voters will be protected. Before, states have made it difficult for minorities to vote by passing unreasonable voter ID laws, prohibiting anyone without an ID to vote when minorities are least likely to have ID. Now, this kind of behavior is encourage by a presidential candidate even though it is completely, 100% illegal to intimidate anyone while voting.
This is absolutely horrific. I remember learning about things like the Grandfather clause and literacy tests used to restrict the voting rights of black people, but I never thought I would see it done in such a blunt way in my time; there is no shame in these people.
So Trump is recruiting people to go to the polling places and watch people vote? Like how is that not illegal? Policing polling places is basically recruiting assholes to stalk and intimidate people who are not voting for him. This is really happening??