Your Douchey Response to People Protesting the Police
Text and Photos By Nick Cooper
You hear the voices in the streets and you want to share your thoughts. You think that the people should be more outraged about the negligent “accidental” shooting of Akai Gurley in a stairway, because Akai Gurley wasn’t doing anything that could even be considered wrong or rebellious. A true innocent bystander is, for you, a better model case, as if you are the new Director of Public Outrage.
Your preference for the 100% innocent bystander victim is presumptuous. Anyone can be the victim of an accident, but blacks are the ones who most often lie dead in the streets because they didn’t get the benefit of the doubt, because cops think that they are animals, demons, hulks, and monsters. Blacks in particular are intentionally killed by police for minor infractions. It makes sense that the poster children of these police impunity protests were black males who possibly committed infractions.
You point out that these police shootings were not the most egregious ones ever, and that’s of course true, douche. The decisions by grand juries not to bring charges against the cops who killed Eric Garner and Mike Brown were triggering events. Anger that had been building for years spewed out suddenly. Triggering events aren’t necessarily the most egregious injustices, they’re just the ones that catch the public’s imagination for whatever reason.
Maybe the killings of Garner and Brown caught fire because people can’t even imagine police killing wealthy white people in similar scenarios. Maybe it was that these weren’t “accidental” killings, they were intentional. Maybe it was because the victims deserved their day in court. Maybe it was that the killings reflected the inability of police to assess or care about the true level of threats these unarmed black suspects posed to them.
However, it isn’t essential that we know why some events trigger protests and others don’t. Someone could write their dissertation about it, but meanwhile, whatever brought the people out in the streets, they need to be there. Sometimes groups do call for protests against police impunity without a triggering event, but for those protests, fewer people show up. We seem to need poster children to galvanize us, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Whatever inspired people to rise up against injustice, it was long overdue.
No one cares that you still have reasonable doubt about Darren Wilson‘s guilt, because he never even went to trial. Also, this is much bigger than Darren Wilson. It is dismissive to tell people who have been living under police racism and impunity all their lives your list of specific concerns about Mike Brown’s innocence. They don’t need to hear them now. You need to listen to them now instead. There is a long history lesson you might need, because it isn’t taught enough. An oppressive system is in place throughout the U.S. That is a fact beyond any reasonable doubt.
There have been many injustices worse than Mike Brown’s and Eric Garner’s killings, but instead of using that to dismiss protests, try to respond to all of the injustices collectively. Instead of thinking of ways to distance yourself from the protesters, get your ass into the streets. If you ever thought about how it was cool that people used to march for civil rights in the 60s, and you wished you could have been there, you just got your wish. You can be there this time.
by Nick Cooper