RETURNING TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME
New Year’s Day: A twenty something police officer employed by a second tier police agency (the Bay Area Rapid Transit Police, headquartered in Oakland), responds – accompanied by his fellow officers – to an altercation at the Fruitvale, Oakland BART station. A suspect, by all accounts a young, decent black male, is face down on the floor, having been ordered by police to remain still. We can infer that the suspect has not yet been thoroughly searched for weapons.
The young officer, probably running on an adrenaline rush, probably not well trained for this kind of event, responds to some – as yet unknown – stimulus and reaches for a weapon. Instead of his TASER, he grabs his service pistol, trains it on the prone suspect. Then in front of God, cameras and many, many witnesses, he performs what can only be described by onlookers as an execution.
The officer in question has resigned and is currently “under criminal investigation”.
No one in his or her right mind fails to recognize that this abhorrent incident is a singular anomaly among police incidents in the Bay Area. And no informed, sane observer doubts for a moment that appropriate justice will be done.
Now, enter the ‘community organizers’, that subset of the Bay Area left who are still convinced that — in a crime ravaged community in which more than 100 people of all races, genders and ages were murdered by thugs in the last ten months – the main social problem to be addressed is “police brutality”.
Here’s a pull quote that nakedly exposes the underlying mindset:
“‘I uphold the whole protest from start to finish,’ said Reiko Redmond, one of several people from Revolution Books in Berkeley who were in downtown Oakland on Wednesday night. She called the events a ‘righteous rebellion’ that stemmed from a long history of oppression and police brutality.”
The organized demonstration was designed to “raise public awareness” and allow people “to express their anger”. As it turned out, it was a consciousness lowering exercise that quickly exploded into nihilistic violence, a full scale mob rampage in which one Oakland Police Department patrol car was destroyed, hundreds of businesses were vandalized and scores of innocent people of all races and walks of life were terrorized.
Imagine, if you will, sitting with the patrons of a nice restaurant in the area. Suddenly you are under siege by thugs who are breaking glass, pounding on the locked door and promising mayhem.
When the smoke cleared, more than a hundred arrests were made …and, so sorry, public awareness was not raised.
As the crack reporter/commentator for the San Francisco Chronicle, Chip Johnson (he’s a brave African American truth teller), has so trenchantly observed:
“If the death of a young black man is such an appalling event, and one that requires an immediate – and apparently visceral – response, wheree were the Berkeley revolutionaries and the San Francisco activists when 124 people, the vast majority of them young black men, were gunned down on the streets of Oakland last year? What about the 127 homicides in the city in 2007? What about a botched robbery in which a 10-year-old boy was paralyzed from the waist down, most likely for the rest of his life, while taking a piano lesson?
“Apparently, the scores of young black men murdered in Oakland year after year – most often by other black men – does not warrant the same level of outrage as one black man shot by a law enforcement officer.”
In the context of a large scale breakdown of civilized norms, the notion that the police are the problem (as opposed to a critically necessary part of the solution) is a particularly toxic form of moral narcissism (i.e., that my moral agenda trumps reality and the legitimate concerns of all those “ordinary” and “unenlightened” people).
That the demonstration leaders are sorry that their grand gesture failed its purpose, but have – to date – expressed no real remorse for the damage wrought, the real world pain and damage suffered by innocent citizens and businesses tells us all we need to know about them. This is telling evidence, crystal clear in its implications, that they are moral narcissists who care more about the gesture, the street theater they had planned than about the day-to-day real world they share with the real people. Those who work, struggle and want a better life for their children, nieces, nephews and grandchildren want the thugs brought under control and they want the street revolutionaries gone as well.
To stage an anti-police demonstration in a thug-saturated environment, one already slipping dangerously out of civilized control, is moral malpractice on a scale of staggering stupidity.