Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferguson and Who Gets to Do What to Whom: One Day, Three Videos

I wrote yesterday that what we're talking about as we talk about Ferguson is, 

Who gets to build a pen and put other human beings there? And who gets to be penned?   
Who gets the right to point guns at those in the pen, threatening to Mace them or tear-gas them if they try to leave their pen? Who gets to be penned?  
Who gets to engage in these actions while wearing no name tags? And who is expected implicitly to obey the commands of the gun-wielding anonymous public servants who built and control the pen? 

And then later in the day, I watched the video at the head of the posting (see German Lopez at Vox on this story).  

I also wrote yesterday that what we're talking about as we talk about Ferguson is,

Who gets to shoot an unarmed teenager six times, twice in the head, and who gets to lie face-down in the street in a pool of blood for hours?  

And then later in the day, I watched the following video of the shooting of Kajieme Powell by St. Louis police two days ago (see Ezra Klein at Vox — warning: video is shocking to see):

And then this morning, I watched Mark Fiore's satirical but bitingly true video "Post-Racial America Alert" at Truthdig. And I wonder as I watch all three videos if I am the only person in the world shaking her or his head and saying, "My God." Just as I wonder who's listening as Katie McDonough writes

It's a strange, sad world where shooting someone four times in the arm and twice in the head could ever be considered a reasonable response to allegedly being lunged at by an unarmed teenager, but that's where we are.

 And when she adds,

The lesson of such cases and the many others like them is that the mere presence of a black person is a credible threat in the eyes of the law. And that same racism informs who doesn't present a credible threat. That same racism defines what kind of person can't reasonably fear for their lives. 

As Rachel Maddow said when the protests at Ferguson got underway, imagine how the people cheering the police in Ferguson would have behaved during the Cliven Bundy standoff if the self-appointed militiamen aiming their guns at federal officers in Wyoming had been black men and not white men.

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