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Chip Johnson Just Doesn't Get It With His Broad Call to "Back the Badge"
by concerned citizen
Monday Mar 23rd, 2009 3:01 PM
It was inevitable that Chip Johnson -- the San Francisco Chronicle's reliable source for a never-ending stream of hyperbolic Oakland bashing -- would chime in on the shooting deaths in Oakland on Saturday. With the deaths of five people, including four Oakland police officers, Chip Johnson has turned in a doozy this time, going so far as calling for Oakland residents to wear black armbands with police badges on them, "so everyone knows where we stand." Never mind his obliviousness to the nasty historical antecedents of citizens wearing armbands in solidarity with police or military forces. One has to wonder if he's lost his mind when he writes such things with seemingly serious intent.

Chip Johnson Just Doesn't Get It With His Broad Call to "Back the Badge"

Monday March 23, 2009
by concerned citizen
indybay.org

Chip Johnson had apparently already worked himself into a lather as he began to write his latest rant published today: "The deaths of four Oakland police officers... are undisputable, immutable, irrevocable proof of the chaotic level of predatory violence on the streets of this city." No, Chip, if these deaths were proof of that, then we wouldn't be talking about a single suspect who has already met his fate here. If it was proof of that, you probably wouldn't have written just a week before, on March 13th, that the "sun seems to be shining a bit brighter than usual on Oakland's often-violent streets." It can't be the apocalypse and the beginning of Oakland's salvation at the same time. But in Chip Johnson's world there is generally little room for subtlety or grey areas and plenty of room for Chicken Little histrionics and bipolar mood swings from week to week.

It is the overall premise of today's piece, though, that requires addressing here. Basically, Chip Johnson is saying that the ongoing hagiographies published and broadcast across the corporate media spectrum are not enough. The candlelight vigil called for by City officials at 6 p.m. Tuesday at 74th Avenue and MacArthur is not enough. He wants to see "moral outrage in every single resident in this city." He wants the City to declare a day of mourning and request that everyone in Oakland wear a black armband with a badge on it. He wants us all to walk in lockstep and blindly "back the badge."

But Chip Johnson just doesn't get it.

The citizens of Oakland, especially those who live in East and West Oakland, cannot instantaneously forget the abuse and murders they have experienced at the hands of Oakland police for decades. While many are indeed sympathetic to any loss of life, including police, the lives of four police officers are no more important than the lives of Oscar Grant, Andrew Moppin, Lesley Xavier Allen, Mac "Jody" Woodfox, Anita Gay, and many other people of color who have been gunned down by East Bay police forces in just the last year. The only "moral outrage" Chip Johnson displayed in all of his columns regarding the murder of Oscar Grant was not about the shocking video of the police abuse and murder, nor was it about the murder of yet another person of color by the police, nor that the primary perpetrator had not even been questioned by authorities at the time. His outrage was that nearly "300 businesses were struck" on January 7th during the Oscar Grant Rebellion. Of course, he never even bothered to correct that grossly exaggerated count of businesses with broken windows in later columns.

Indeed, considering where his "outrage" priorities appear to be, it's highly insulting when Chip Johnson presumes to have "any real notion of what social justice means" and takes it upon himself to declare what Uhuru and other "so-called" activists should be doing now in reaction to the deaths of four Oakland police officers. He wants everyone to stop what they are doing and "denounce" the shooting of the officers on Saturday because he says so, because he is wearing his black armband with a badge right now.

He should not hold his breath waiting. Not only can people not forget the family members, neighbors, and co-workers who have been abused or killed by a completely unaccountable police force, those attuned to the corrupt inner workings of police departments in regard to brutality and cover-up cannot forget that Capt. Ed Poulson, head of Internal Affairs at the Oakland Police Department, is currently on paid leave as a result of his personal involvement in the 2000 beating death of Jerry Amaro. You see, in the OPD you can be involved in beating someone to death and then get promoted to the very position in charge of investigating such killings. Or you can shoot to death two unarmed citizens within a year of each other and go a permanent paid vacation, as is the case with Officer Hector Jimenez. Even casting aside the Oakland Riders or the 11 officers fired in January for frequently lying in search warrant requests, is it a coincidence that Oakland police have shot 45 people of color in the last five years, killing 15, and not a single officer to have shot someone has been disciplined in any way?

Yet Chip Johnson seriously expects Oakland citizens to forget all that and fall in lockstep behind a police department with such an atrocious history. Perhaps Chip Johnson said it best himself when he wrote about the outrage expressed by citizens on January 7th over the murder of Oscar Grant and the lack of accountability demanded of the BART officer the whole world saw shoot him in the back -- "I don't get it - on several levels."


articles cited:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/23/MNPG16L7DK.DTL,
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/03/13/MN0R16EF2K.DTL,
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/01/09/BAV915687Q.DTL,
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/01/24/18565434.php,
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/02/07/18568854.php, and
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/03/22/18580461.php