It was the heading on Friday’s front page of the most vulgar local tabloid, the New York Post. With a more sensitive approach, the New York Times published the pictures of nine scenes where during the last two years seven black men, one black woman, and a twelve year old black boy were the deadly victims of police brutality, four of them during traffic stops. In some cases the images came from police bodycams, but if it wasn’t for the availability of smartphone videos most of these cases would not have been recorded. The paper could have included Eric Garner, who died almost two years ago on Staten Island after an NYPD officer took him in a chokehold that had been outlawed by the department. That officer was acquitted by a grand jury, and of the officers involved in the other killings only a few were indicted, and so far none of them has been convicted. Only one of the officers resigned, and one was fired. In light of these facts it appears as inevitable as it is inexcusable that someone snapped and started killing white policemen, in this case a deranged black veteran in Dallas with easy access to an AR-15 weapon.
Soon after the carnage in Dallas the usual lunatics took to their preferred media to blame the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, which took off nationwide after Eric Garner’s death. On Facebook Sarah Palin called Black Lives Matter ‘a farce,’ in his radio show Rush Limbaugh called it ‘a terrorist group,’ and on his TV show Bill O’Reilly called it ‘a hate America group.’ Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick chimed in with a similar message, and some other Republicans who put their two cents in included President Obama in the blame game. Among them were US Congressman William, whose district includes Dallas, Mike Huckabee, and William Johnson, the Executive Director of the National Association of Police Organizations, who went as far as stating that ‘Obama appeases criminals.’ Curious how widespread these sentiments were I posted the following tweet: “The people who blame Black Lives Matter or Obama for the shooting in Dallas are fucking racist assholes, end of story.” I figured that from responses to this deliberately provocative statement I would get some idea of the general opinion among Twitter users.
Immediately after I posted the tweet my iPhone started signaling that responses were coming in. Fearing the worst, based on earlier exchanges with the rabid right, I decided to give it an hour and then check my Twitter feed. After a while the number of responses dwindled, and when I finally checked I found to my amazement that my statement had been re-tweeted more than fifty times, while there was only one critical response, saying ‘Explain this then’ with a YouTube link.
The video showed a small group of demonstrators in New York City, yelling ‘what do we want’ followed by ‘dead cops.’ I remembered those images as the first reaction to Eric Garner’s murder, and pointed out to the sender that this was before Black Lives Matter was even formed and in no way representative for the movement. He responded that he wasn’t a racist, just very concerned.
While this was happening Donald Trump tried to cash in on the misery by asking the NYPD if he could speak to the department’s brass during afternoon rollcall. Commissioner Bratton made clear that the department does not provide photo-ops, forcing Trump to grudgingly record his own YouTube message.