Daunte Wright’s Killing Makes the Case for Shrinking Police Budgets
Naked Capitalism had this commentary up on its site as introduced by Yves Smith. I made some small editorial changes to further emphasize the two points Yves makes in the beginning and also some of the commentary in the article. Both parts are good reads.
To wit; If you are handcuffed and on the ground, you are killed. If you drive away, you are killed. If you run, then stop, and turn around with your hands up; you are killed. The common thread here is the victims are all Black Americans.
Daunte Wright’s Killing Makes the Case for Shrinking Police Budgets, Naked Capitalism, Yves Smith
Yves here. I don’t pretend to have any good answers for what to do about police brutality, particularly towards people of color. During the Presidential campaign, Biden backed even more police spending, no doubt to clam the nerves of the Dem’s professional-managerial class base. More unequal societies are lower trust societies, so the K-shaped recovery is only going to increase the perception of risk among the well off.
Two things to keep in mind:
First, is that the most troubling form of police militarization is their hiring of former soldiers. Any who have seen combat have been deeply acculturated to shoot at any threat. I don’t see how to undo that.
Second, is that some data suggests that abusive policing is concentrated among a relatively small proportion of the total staff. Malcolm Gladwell looked at the Los Angeles Police Department’s efforts to improve its long-established bad relationship with community due to over-use of force. They invested a lot of effort in training, only to find it had very little effect.
Further study showed why. The average cop was not behaving badly. A small number had many warning and citations. Gladwell argued that the remedy was to get these hotheads off the street as soon as their abusive tendencies surfaced.
But the culture of police forces as currently constituted all works against that. Cops are indoctrinated to stick together. Being a do-gooder is being a rat, and being a rat is a fast path to having no backup show up when you are in a tough spot (or having drugs or other incriminating evidence planted). So cops can’t call out the abusers in their ranks for fear of repercussions. And police unions mount vigorous defense of cops facing sanctions.
By Sonali Kolhatkar, the founder, host and executive producer of “Rising Up With Sonali,” a television and radio show that airs on Free Speech TV and Pacifica stations. She is a writing fellow for the Economy for All project at the Independent Media Institute. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute
Three weeks into the Minneapolis trial of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd, a white police officer in the neighboring suburb of Brooklyn Center killed a young Black man named Daunte Wright and illustrated in tragic terms just how law enforcement remains engaged in a racist war on Black America in spite of national scrutiny. Officer Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of her department, allegedly mistook her gun for her taser and fired a single shot, killing the 20-year-old while he struggled in his car in view of his girlfriend, who had been riding as a passenger.
Like so many Black Americans, Wright justifiably feared police interactions. His mentor Jonathan Mason said,
“He was afraid police would do something like this to him.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of countless police victims in civil lawsuits, said,
“We don’t see these sort of things happening to white young people that we see happen over and over and over again to young marginalized minorities.”
The Black fear of police is grounded in provable police bias. The Stanford Open Policing Project studied nearly 100 million police stops and found that “officers generally stop black drivers at higher rates than white drivers,” and that “black and Hispanic drivers are searched more often than white drivers.” Moreover, “police require less suspicion to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers,” which the researchers concluded “is evidence of discrimination.”
According to Wright’s mother, he was pulled over in part because there was an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror—yet another ludicrous pretext to add to the list of remarkably mundane reasons for why Black Americans invoke suspicion from police. The ACLU of Minnesota released a statement saying it has “deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people.”
Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to urge caution in rushing to judgment against the officer and instead accuse protesters of using the shooting as “an excuse for violence.” The paper rarely if ever expresses outrage over the countless racially tinged police killings in America.
Independent Black journalists like King Demetrius Pendleton have been covering the Chauvin trial and the protests against Floyd’s killing for the past year and have a radically different view of the situation. In an interview, Pendleton explained to me that the killing of Floyd “was like a public lynching,” and then “to see Daunte Wright being killed in a similar fashion” was gut-wrenching for local residents. Pendleton hails from the very community that is deeply impacted by police violence in Minneapolis and routinely provides a platform for anti-police-brutality activists and family members of police victims.
Pendleton explained that it was ridiculous for us to expect young people to “calm down” in the face of state violence. After Wright’s killing, mass protests in Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center resulted in dozens of arrests as angry residents confronted police.
“They’re tired of watching their young friends getting killed by police officers, and they know nothing is going to happen because nothing ever happens,”
It’s a familiar script that when protesters denounce police killings, there is a greater focus on their righteous rage than on the state violence they are decrying. Pendleton invoked Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s words saying;
“A riot is the language of the unheard. African American people don’t have therapists and all that. They just have to deal with the trauma.”
Just as the Wall Street Journal’s comments focusing on protesters rather than the police killing were tone-deaf, so were Joe Biden’s calls for “peace and calm.” After Wright was killed, the president said, “There is absolutely no justification—none—for looting, no justification for violence.” He was not talking about actual violence by police, rather about potential violence from protesters.
If the calls for calm are louder than the calls for justice, then America’s message to Black people is to shut up and be killed.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was more forthright, tweeting that Wright’s killing was “government funded murder,” and that
“Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist.”
More importantly, Tlaib articulated the solution to this state violence against Black people: “No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed,” she wrote. She was alluding to calls by Black Lives Matter activists to “Defund the Police,” based on the idea that the massive city budget expenditures on law enforcement are better served being spent directly on community services. Conservative and even liberal answers to the problem of police violence have been to throw more money at police, not less. Even after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests demanded that police budgets be slashed, most were still awarded increases relative to city services that directly help communities. Among the slew of police reforms that have promised an end to violence but delivered only more of the same were body cameras for officers.
In Wright’s case, Officer Potter’s body camera did nothing to deter her brutal reaction. What it did was showcase just how she ratcheted up the violence as police often do. Upon seeing the footage, Pendleton said it was clear to him that the African American officer who was in the process of arresting Wright was “handling him at first, and then you see this white woman come in and just grab him . . . and she basically escalated the whole situation.”
In the hours after Wright’s shooting, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon gave Officer Potter the benefit of the doubt, saying,
“It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
Law enforcement and their allies routinely justify police misconduct as understandable mistakes arising from the pressures of the job. Yet they blame the victims of police killings for not behaving calmly during the volatile circumstances of terrifying arrests by armed trigger-happy forces.
Both Potter and Gannon resigned two days after Wright’s killing, and in her terse resignation letter, Potter said
it was “in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately.”
While immediate resignations in the wake of a police killing offer a modicum of progress compared to the inaction that most police killings are marked by, it is not enough. Wright’s aunt, Nyesha Wright, said at a press conference, “Prosecute them, like they would prosecute us.” Potter has now been charged with second-degree manslaughter.
So far only one Minneapolis-area police officer in recent memory has been prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to more than a decade for a fatal shooting: Mohamed Noor, a Black, Somali American officer who accidentally shot a white Australian woman named Justine Ruszczyk, killing her. During Noor’s trial, his victim was deeply humanized, and the loss of her life was painted as the tragedy it deservedly was. Former officer Noor expressed deep remorse for what he did, saying,
“I’ve thought and prayed about this for two years, since the time I took the life of Justine Ruszczyk.”
Contrast this to the lack of remorse shown by Chauvin and Potter for the lives of their Black victims. It remains to be seen if these two white officers will be held accountable for their actions. In the meantime, police will continue to kill, and politicians will continue to urge calm in the face of the carnage while rewarding police departments with more money under the guise of “reforms.”
Cops are indoctrinated to stick together. Being a”
That is why We Have internal Security forces who are isolated from those whom they watch, isolated until they act.
the real problem however goes much deeper than the occasional rotten apple in the barrel. the real problem is that part of the brain which controls racial discrimination. if we can simply confuse that center of the brain we’re on the road to success, we have made the first step forward. my plan:
once a year all the white people who are really white, I mean blue eyes, blonde hair and all that, simply paint their skin deep black, wear a black wig, so further, so forth and so on.
Those who are really black should paint their skin white, wear blond wigs, blue contact lenses, so further, so forth, and so on once a year for two weeks. this will confuse that part of the brain which is the Discrimination Center of thought.
Do you see how
I think he got pulled over for expired tags and the air freshener was an observation after that. Not cops fault it is against Minnesota law. Anyway, the real “beef” was he had an outstanding warrant for skipping court and bolted. What I am not clear on is the idea his original charge was a misdemeanor, but I read it was threatening someone with a gun to take $820 from them. Expired tags is serious to start with as in many (possibly all) states insurance is void if the vehicle is not registered…sometimes there is a grace period. Bolt on expired tags and anyone gets a lot of police attention. Throw in an outstanding on firearms related charge and it is high stress. Terrible outcome.
[Initially, I doubted the claim that deployment made for loose canon LEOs, but the studies that I read supported that claim. Then I read an anecdotal article that made me wonder whether we were training all officers, including veterans, to shoot first and ask questions later. The meme, better to be judged by twelve than carried by six came to mind.]
Dallas Cops With Military Experience More Likely to Shoot, Study Says | The Marshall Project
Does military veteran status and deployment history impact officer involved shootings? A case-control study – PubMed (nih.gov)
Military-Trained Police May Be Less Hasty To Shoot, But That Got This Vet Fired : NPR
Shooting someone who can be claimed to have done something wrong gives the officers a lot more cover. Perhaps that is why Noor shows remorse when Potter does not.
The officer who shot the guy who reached for his license (after being requested to show it) because he was afraid the guy was reaching for a gun was convicted. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XFYTtgZAlE
Noor, the officer who shot the 911 caller, Ruszczyk, because she approached the squad car in a way which surprised the officer was convicted. (per the OP) https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/07/us/minneapolis-mohamed-noor-sentenced
Even though Mader (may have) had the situation under control (per Ron’s third link), when additional officers arrived, it went to hell, and the arriving officers were covered for shooting Williams when he started waving an unloaded pistol.
Police are concerned about their safety when engaged in traffic stops.
I skipped over this report that “challenges this dominant danger narrative”, https://michiganlawreview.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/117MichLRev635_Woods.pdf to find the New Mexico account.
I have been inclined to err on the side of officer safety, but when they have too much backup it is dangerous for the person stopped.
Daunte Wright would have had a better chance if Potter had not decided to help. (38 seconds into the video Run linked)
Lt. Nazario was clearly in more danger because there were two officers. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/virginia-police-officer-fired-pepper-spray-handcuff-black-army-lieutenant-traffic-stop/. He received conflicting orders making compliance impossible.
Nazario’s experience demonstrates a third thing to keep in mind beyond Yves’ two. We have trained our officers to be in command of the situation. They demand and expect subjects to “comply”. It must work a lot of the time, but sometimes the results are horrific.
googling “can police require a crowd to disperse” gives https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/649358 as the first hit (today), which includes
3. The Portland Police Bureau recognizes that the City of Portland has a tradition of free speech and assembly. It is the responsibility and priority of the Portland Police Bureau not to unduly impede the exercise of First Amendment rights and to provide for the safe and lawful expression of speech, while also maintaining the public safety, peace and order. A police response that impedes otherwise protected speech must be narrowly tailored to serve a significant government interest.
4. While the First Amendment provides broad protections for the expression of speech, it does not provide protection for criminal acts including, but not limited to, riot, disorder, interference with traffic upon the public streets, or other immediate threats to public safety, peace or order.
Is wearing armor, gas masks, and helmets evidence that someone intends to start a riot?
I was banned from Naked Capitalism a decade ago, and every time I unintentionally come across something written by Smith I am happy I was banned.
“Yves here. I don’t pretend to have any good answers for what to do about police brutality, particularly towards people of color. During the Presidential campaign, Biden backed even more police spending, no doubt to clam the nerves of the Dem’s professional-managerial class base.”
She has been a total AH for a long time now. As divisive as she can be, dropping cheap shots without a care about the facts. No one should read her dribble.
“We have to put more money for this to work so we have legitimate community policing, and we are in a situation where we can change the legislation,” he added.
On the campaign trail, Biden promised to invest $300 million in a program that gives grants to hire more diverse officers and trains them to develop less adversarial relationships with communities.”
You are always welcome here.