He Lived

What can you say?

Here we go again with this whole “discretion” and “feared for my life” thing.  Answer me this: how is it that a lone state police trooper can go into a Bourbon Street bar to eject an unruly, intoxicated customer, do it successfully without finding it necessary to draw his service weapon while in a different city, two cops with an alleged perpetrator already on the ground after a scuffle, become so afraid for their lives that they feel the use of deadly force is necessary.  It’s a tale of two men; one dead, the other alive.  It’s also a tale of two races; one black, the other white.  Guess which man is dead?

Thirty-seven year old and black, Alton Sterling was killed by Baton Rouge police early July 5 after they responded to a call about a man selling CD’s and brandishing a gun.  The cops show up and find Sterling in his usual spot according to the store owner, a scuffle ensues without the benefit of body camera footage and Sterling is subdued but continues to struggle while on the ground, with two cops on top of him.  If you look at the videos provided by the Washington Post, you can see that at one point, one officer is kneeling on Sterling’s arm.

It made no difference.  Someone yelled gun, multiple shots were fired, a man died tragically and then the “possible smoking” gun is pulled out of his pocket.  Personally, I think it’s about tactics and obviously also about a mindset that dehumanizes people so it’s ok, fun even, if you decide to kill them.  But after watching more  than a share of these troubling clips, I think too it’s about the tussle.  Cops are tired, or even worse, incapable of having to physically subdue a person, especially a black person who some, in their misguided view, may not even want to put their hands on.

Thirty-nine year old and white, Doctor Michael Hoffman found out how easily and quickly shit can happen to you when you’re out on the town-a rough town-at night; and how it’s always best to follow the police officer’s instructions.  Sort it out later.  Having called 911 because a bartender didn’t return his debit card, he found himself on the bad end of an arrest because someone at that same bar had called the cops on him saying he refused to leave.  Now, a straight man would’ve recognized the con immediately, explained it to the officer, even while he’s being cuffed and he’d get his card and everything would wind up OK.  Except Doctor Hoffman wasn’t straight right then.

What he was; what he wound up being was apprehended, in custody and charged.  Yet, he was very much alive.  That’s a glaring, striking difference in what should be two stories with almost the same types of circumstance.  Think about it: In Baton Rouge, you have a street peddler, selling his wares outside a store, his usual haunt, nothing overtly violent and on the other hand, a drunk on Bourbon Street in the wee hours getting a bit belligerent trying to make a point. There was nothing overtly threatening, deadly or dangerous about either situation.   Neither man deserved to die, should’ve died; yet one did.

What can I say?

NOLA video footage and news story provided by The New Orleans Advocate

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2 Comments

Filed under Commentary, Race

2 responses to “He Lived

  1. This nightmare just keeps recurring in different cities. Is it fear plus power equals murder?

    • They say math and music are at the center of life. If so, you’ve hit on an important equation, simple yet scary in its implications. Be careful out there, man.

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