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New Year's Resolution: Stop Shooting Young Black Men
by Darwin ( darwin [at] riseup.net )
Friday Jan 9th, 2009 1:26 PM
Oscar Grant, III and Adolph Grimes, III shared a few things in common. They were both third generation men named after their fathers and grandfathers. They were both new fathers themselves. They were both 22 years-old. Both men were celebrating the New Year's holiday. They were both young and Black, and therefore both were gunned down by police in the early hours of New Years day.
That the police often unjustifiably kill young Black men is well established. It's the obvious tip of a far larger iceberg: systematic police brutality targeting people of color in the United States. Structured into the police state are lethal inequalities that ensure differential treatment, from surveillance, profiling, and harassment, to arrest, torture, imprisonment, conviction, and the “capital” punishment – death. These are the all too frequent outcomes of policing as experienced by non-whites, historically and contemporarily. There's an immense sociological literature to prove the point. Here's just one peer reviewed study (http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/231291) demonstrating that police violence is most common and deadly against non-whites and the poor, precisely because they are non-white and poor.

Is it any surprise then that this new year – the year of “change,” a mere twenty days away from the inauguration of America's first Black president – has been rung in with gunshots? Two young Black men have been murdered on the streets of America by the police. Happy new year, America. This is your creed, your most terrifying and fundamental method of keeping “safe” your social order of grotesque wealth and privilege built upon poverty and exploitation.

A brief search of news reports shows far more questionable uses of deadly force by the police since January first across the country. Nearly all killings and assaults involve young Black and Latino men targeted by the police.

In Oakland, California, Oscar Grant, III was shot, execution style by a BART police officer in front of dozens of horrified onlookers. Per the police state's usual methods of operation in the aftermath of an unarmed black man's death at their own hands, the department circled its wagons against criticism. As George Ciccariello-Maher shows us (http://www.counterpunch.org/maher01092009.html), BART, Oakland's City Hall, and the whole establishment on up to the governor and out to the news media and much of the state's white middle class citizenry has called for “calm,” during the investigation. Now they're decrying the “violence” of outraged protesters, mostly young people of color who have no other way to contest the injustice they see and feel.

The “investigation” that supposedly will make everything all right is proceeding amid the establishment's tacit backing and support of the officer who murdered Grant. The officer remains free. His voluntary resignation from the BART police force, initially framed as a kind of accountability by the media and authorities is instead a means for the officer to extricate himself from any internal BART investigation. It has allowed him to hire legal council and largely recuse himself. Meanwhile, about one hundred protesters have been jailed for expression their rage in the streets. No one was killed at the demonstrations that rocked Oakland, even though a few protesters were shot with rubber bullets.

And still the authorities call for calm and understanding so that the system can proceed. The youths who marched in the streets on Wednesday night understand all too well what's going down, how this system works. Grant was the symbol of so much more violence directed at their bodies and the very sinews of the communities. To expect any less than a street rebellion is to expect young working class people of color to adopt an attitude of suicidal resignation.

Meanwhile, about 2000 miles southeast of Oakland's flatlands, in New Orleans, Louisiana, another young black man is being buried by his grieving family. Another community is fuming about the police killing of Adolph Grimes, III, and the already bunk “investigation” promised by the authorities. In the wake of Grimes' shooting by nine undercover NOPD officers, also in the early hours of New Year's day, the police department has orchestrated a similar damage control plan to deny real justice. (http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/new-orleans-mobilizes-against-police-murder-of-adolph-grimes/)

Just like the Grant case, the NOPD has conspicuously touted Grimes' possession of a firearm (a legally owned and registered pistol) and a shotgun they say they discovered in the trunk of his car, days after his death when they finally searched it. The point has been to cast suspicion on Grimes' character and to play to racist assumptions that any young black man with a weapon must have been a criminal and deserving of death. The same tactic is being used in Oakland. Grant, while totally unarmed and cooperative, has been subjected to a posthumous whisper campaign bringing up his possible, but not confirmed criminal record.

The result is that sympathy disappears for the victim who is raced and written up as a karmically justified thug corpse. This is an especially effective police tactic in New Orleans where blog comments on several news articles about Grimes' killing have expressed satisfaction that another one of “them” has been taken off the streets. Such rhetoric would never follow the questionable shooting of a young white person by the police. One commenter on the Times-Picayune's web site echoes a mass sentiment grounded in this tactic stating;

“Everyone in this city gripes about the crime, yet when cops are proactive, it's always the ones who complain the loudest who are ready to tar and feather them for a job well done.”
(http://blog.nola.com/cest-la-nola/2009/01/protestors_march_against_nopd.html)

Grimes, a graduate of one of the city's most prestigious high schools, had no criminal record. He was a father of an 18 month-old baby, husband, and hard worker living in Houston, Texas.

While Oakland's rage against police brutality has taken form as a street rebellion, the response in New Orleans has been more restrained. Not because the affected communities are less angered or saddened. Instead, the hyper-active violence of the police state in New Orleans seems to have taught many a painful lesson over the years: stand against the police and you too could end up dead. Especially if you too are young and black.

On Thursday, January 9, a protest in front of the police station garnered only two dozen citizens. As if to scare away even these critics the police sent out at least six plain-clothes officers from the building to stand around across the street, monitoring the activists. One undercover officer filmed the entire protest. When asked by a photographer from the Times-Picayune who he was with, he apparently responded, “that's not for you to know” (http://neworleans.indymedia.org/news/2009/01/13509.php).

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Sensibility
Saturday Jan 10th, 2009 9:52 PM
Stop flaming the fires of rage and emotion. While police brutality should be resisted and exposed, this was not a case of police brutality, but rather a terrible and unfortunate accident. There is a need for better police practices when using tasers, but this police officer was doing his job trying to subdue an out of control mob and a person resisting arrest.
by The Truth
Thursday Jan 15th, 2009 6:21 PM
Stop fanning the racial flames. If in the Grimes case what the family states as facts they have only the man's actions to blame. He was already violating Texas Laws.

1. If what the family says is true, the man had a gun permit from Texas and he violated many of the requirements
2. the gun had been used and shot recently in celebrations on the Westbank
3 Brotherinlaw admits there was shooting and he did it.
4. Grimes broke the Texas concealed weapons laws of Texas for his firearm by giving to someone else, allowing them to discharge it in public and putting others at risk. Louisiana reciprocates on those laws. So he broke the LA hand gun law also
5. Did he shoot the gun when killed? Only forensics will tell. We have to wait because of the lawsuits filed. This way it will take longer to find out the truth about the GSR.
6. Extended magazines on an automatic handgun are not generally acceptable as part of the concealed handgun permit. You give the impression that you are gunning for a fight.
7. If the police showed up, under Texas handgun permit he is not to lift the gun at any time. He is to submit to police; explain there is a hidden handgun under the permit. The permit should be accessed from his wallet.
Only after the police give the okay should the firearm be accessed -- usually by police if energized.
8. It appears he did not follow permit requirements. As a result there is great unnecessary sadness in NOLA.
9. Texas handgun training is very adament about the responsibilities of carrying that concealed weapon. They more responsibilities and accountabilty than the normal citizen. So using the gun for fireworks display, giving it to someone else. The man is not the angel presented and the family appears to be covering up activities between midnight and time of shooting. The brotherinlaw hoped to explain away GSR and only showed the man as reckless which would be unusual if he really cared about his training.
10. Coming from Texas with a shotgun and automatic weapon with an extended magazine? What did the man have in mind. This does not sound like he was planning legal activities at all.
11. I believe the Grimes family --someone is lying and covering up actions of the son. If he was so responsible, failing to follow Texas handgun rights --he committed suicide by cop.
12. As for being shot in the Back. As forensics has shown in cases before, As shots ringout they can turn a torso. But the man did run AFTER he started firing shots at the cops. So again, he did not follow Texas handgun laws if indeed he had a permit as his dad asserts.
13. I don't like the stupidity of this one young man giving Texas a bad rap for our hand gun laws. He broke Texas laws and then may have broken LA laws before the cops even showed up -- allowing the discharging of the handgun in public. Some righteous upstanding man was he.
14. Blacks want their neighborhoods cleaned up also. There were calls that night complaining of the gun fire at the Westbank. Was this neighbor afraid for their life. What if random bullets would have killed them. What would be the outcry?
15. By the way the Texas right to carry was written color blind. He had a right to a permit. But if he had it, he is accountable for all activity and care of that gun--a plain simple fact. So what clouded his judgement? Was he drinking? What? THE FAMILY IS HIDING SOME OF THE TRUTHS. The police can't talk -- they never can until it goes to court. So they are following the law as usual. How stupid can people be when the Grimes say they won't talk to us. Fools you filed a lawsuit. That puts a gag order on the entire factfinding mission. Talk about a Duh moment.
by casper51
Sunday Jun 27th, 2010 11:09 PM
2 Black youths killed both 22 both by the police. I haven't followed Grimes death but if its any indication of the pattern that usually comes with a cop/citizen killing, theres usually a charge of resisting. I believe the Bart officer was at fault but don't believe he intentionally wanted to kill him with his gun. I believe also that the crowd didn't help matters at all. You can see in the video there are a couple guys cuffed up and they are not resisting and therefore are not being pushed around. I think the crowd does what alot of crowds do when the police is trying to arrest/detain someone, they yell at the cops, accuse them of mistreating the subject. I am looking at the same video as everyone and if you fell the crowd was orderly then something is wrong. No way in the world was this guy going to be cut loose at the Bart station, so why not comply, go to the station, bail out, file a suit and be done with it. The bystanders need to let the police deal with it. No different than when college kids get worked up after a game and the crown ends up working itself into a frinzy and a riot jumps off. If I am wrong in all this, thats your opinion as this is mine. But I want to hear one person justify all the other (non-police) black on black murders all around. Where is that outrage, its certainly more than 2 people and in many cases its from "friendly fire" where a kid or two gets shot/killed in bed by a drive by. When the police come to investigate nobody wants to get involved but want to blame the police for not doing there job and finding the shooters. How do you think they solve murders? It ain't by a crystal ball, its by people getting involved and talking to the police. But thats okay, keep blaming them, they so happen are the only ones trying to bring your kids killers to justice.