So here’s the deal. I am angry. Furious. Enraged. Livid. The fact that it is 2015 and it is still possible for me or any of my black friends to have our lives destroyed by supposed servants of the people simply because we are black makes me truly, deeply, painfully angry. The fact that these careless murderers, these state-backed assassins rarely get punished for murdering black people makes me want to flip tables. All of the tables. I’m right there with the rioters in Baltimore, is what I am trying to say. I want to break the windows of cop cars. I want to set shit on fire. I want to flip tables, throw rocks, pound concrete, rage against this system that has perpetuated itself BECAUSE REMAINING QUIET ONLY FUELS THE ENGINE THAT MAKES OPPRESSION POSSIBLE.
So when you tell me that racism is shitty, but you’d really prefer if people could go back to reasoned arguments on Facebook instead of destroying property, all I hear is: “I have the privilege of waiting for you to receive justice, and your life means less to me than glass and concrete.” When you tell me that you don’t condone the actions of corrupt racist police forces across the country, but follow that up with, “but we need to find intelligent ways to fight,” all I hear is: “I’m avoiding using the word ‘thug’ because I’ve read somewhere that it is racist.” When you tell me, “I feel angry too, but you don’t see me smashing in small business windows,” I hear, “I will never have to worry about my children being shot by the police simply for the color of their skin, so I can afford to show my anger by sharing articles on social media.”
If you are white, and puzzled by the rage and pain of your black friends, family, lovers, partners, and children, then you are part of the problem. If you decry the destruction of cars with the same energy that you decry the destruction of lives and families, then you are part of the problem. If you think just talking about these issues is getting anybody but white people anywhere, then you are part of the problem. If you are wishing for the days when we could pretend to be color blind and the goal was to become a Bill Cosby-approved house negro, your time has passed. Evolve, or you are part of the problem.
If you are not already angry, now is the time to get angry. If you have not already found your rage about this situation—and I don’t mean self-righteous indignation, here, I mean that deep acid burn in the center of your being that threatens to overcome your very existence every time you hear of a new murder, every time you watch a cop walk free, every time George Zimmerman appears on the news, every time one of your fedora-wearing, libertarian-voting, #notallwhatever white friends brings up black on black crime or absentee fathers, then I simply do not understand. If, when another name floats to the surface of your awareness and becomes yet another hashtag (and they do every 28 hours—black men are being murdered by police practically daily and that number does not include women of color or trans people of color), you do not feel like buying a ticket to Baltimore to smash cars with your black brothers and sisters, then I do not understand. I. Don’t. Understand.
But you go ahead and keep telling me there are better ways for people to fight state-sponsored murder, that waiting quietly and voting the right people into office is going to work for us eventually. That white people will eventually just give up that upper hand and stop being racist. After all, we have a black president, right? More importantly, keep telling yourself all of that. In this instance, the lie you believe is far more powerful and damaging than the one I believe. And you can afford to believe it.
You’re the problem. You.
Americans will not recover economically if they live in fear of their government. Our success as a nation comes from the free-thinking and creativity that our constitutional rights afford.
I know y’all are all up in arms about BART’s ridiculous cell phone shutdown—and I do not deny that you should be. I just want to make sure you guys are paying attention to the other ways in which our rights and the law are being slapped around. The importance of this can’t possibly escape you.
ETA: YAY! That link is to the decision from the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which states:
Ensuring the public’s right to gather information about their officials not only aids in the uncovering of abuses…but also may have a salutary effect on the functioning of government more generally[.]
If you don’t feel like reading the opinion, here’s an article.
Hey all you art critics! Guess what? All that time you spent learning about art, art history, artists and their movements, ideologies, styles, media, etc.? Totally fucking wasted.
[T]he police in Long Beach, California, have a policy that says if a police officer determines that a photographer is taking photos of something with “no apparent esthetic value,” they can detain them.
What could this policy possibly be based on? Are Long Beach cops afraid that there might be photographic evidence that not every part of Long Beach is picturesque and perfect? Are they afraid of spies, have they watched too many Bond flicks? Maybe it’s Communists. Maybe it’s Maybelline.
Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Now, in my last post I discussed something much more worrisome than this in the long term. However, this deserves awareness, discussion and the statement:
Dear Long Beach, I can smell the bullshit from here. Love, Waiting For The Inevitable Lawsuit (aka Whiskeypants).
Today I caught wind of the trend toward criminalizing the act of recording law enforcement at work. If you don’t feel like hittin’ up that article, people are being arrested for taking video of police officers on the basis of two-way consent laws.
The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway. Since the police do not consent, the camera-wielder can be arrested. Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.
If you will allow me to take all of my writing skill, creativity and legal education and put my reaction into words: shit on that.
Now, before I go any further into this issue, let me say this: I am not anti-cop. I am not anti-law enforcement. I believe strongly that, if the police force were to get the funding, staffing, and resources necessary to do their jobs, we’d have fewer problems with officers going off the reservation and fucking up. This is not a cop-bashing post, nor should it be construed as one.
That being said, this is bullshit. We as citizens should, whenever possible, be able to police our police force in this way so long as we do not obstruct. Using technology to record their actions, regardless of whether they consent (and I do not believe that privacy and consent laws apply even in the tiniest way in situations like these, especially when arrests occur in public places) should not only be legal, at this point it ought to be expected.
This reads to me like willful misinterpretation of the law. It is damaging to the ability of the civilian to have a voice and a verifiable complaint about police abuse (and while this may not be about cop bashing, let’s not pretend such abuses do not happen with frightening regularity). Administratively, this doesn’t make sense: if the police are on the level, they shouldn’t have to worry about the results of such public recordings. And if they are not, such recordings (properly handled) aid the legal process.
We should not be living in a state where citizens have to fear reprisals for keeping an eye on the police.