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A Modest Proposal to Address Institutional Racism

Monday, July 11th, 2016

black-lives-matterAlton Sterling was not killed by the police. Philandro Castile was not killed by the police. They were killed by individual police officers, in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis.

But for many African-Americans, who witness the killing of one black man after another at the hands of individual police officers who are rarely convicted of crimes — with changes of venue or all-white juries — it feels as if the police have become their deadly adversary.

Which, combined with the ease of purchasing high-powered, semi-automatic weaponry, is a recipe for urban guerilla warfare against the police of the kind we saw in Dallas.

Bottom line: In order to stop the madness, the U.S. must begin to address the issue of crime and punishment of individual policemen who shoot and kill unarmed black people.

michajohnsonNothing can excuse Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, who murdered five Dallas police officers and wounded nine other people. He said he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. before he himself was killed by Dallas police. As they should have.

But do we understand what gave rise to Johnson’s blood-thirsty rage? Damn right, we do. If you have the stomach, check out Killed By Police, for a sickening list of people killed by officer-involved incidents – some of them justified, for sure – but many of them not.

White people – those who generally control the government, businesses and media in America – have a special obligation to ensure that our systems of policing and jurisprudence work for the benefit of all citizens equally. Sure, all lives matter,  but it’s black lives that are most threatened by the institutional racism that continues to hold a death grip on our nation.

What is to be done? For starters, Congress could pass legislation tomorrow mandating that no federal crime-fighting funds will be given to cities or counties that fail to create citizen review boards governing local police behavior, In the same way we have citizen control of the military, we should ensure citizen control of the urban military – the local police.

ar15Next, we should ban the sale, and eventually possession, of semi-automatic weapons, in the same way we have effectively* banned the sale and possession of automatic weapons since the 1930s. This would by itself vastly reduce the scale of mayhem perpetrated by assassins, murderers, terrorists and crazies. It would also require a HUGE political effort because the National Rifle Association would go the mattresses to stop such a move.

Finally, we have to change the way we think and talk about violence, whether it’s against civilians or authorities. Murder is murder. Let’s call it what it is.

* As the vigilant Noozeyeguy notes in comments, it is still possible, with restrictions, to own a machine gun, but regulations have virtually wiped them out from private hands.