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Nothing More Than A Glitch

The meeting room at the Lima, Ohio police department on the evening of January 4, 2008.

Okay people listen up. We have a warrant for the arrest of Anthony Terry, thirty one, suspected of drug distribution. We’re having trouble trying to find Mr., and I use the term loosely, Terry. However, we believe he’s hiding at and/or operating out of his girlfriend’s house. Her name is Ms., another loose term, Tarika Wilson. She has a history of crack possession. Four years ago she was arrested in a drug bust that netted…oh my goodness…a whopping eight ounces of crack.

The officers chuckled slightly at the sarcasm.

We have a search warrant for the girlfriend’s house that we’re going to execute tonight. And I use the term “execute” very precisely.

There was more laughter from the team.

We haven’t done any real police work on this. We haven’t had the house under any kind of surveillance, so we don’t know our elbows from our shit holes as to whether or not Anthony Terry is actually there or not. So tonight we’re going to go in and find out what’s really happening there. And one more thing, Tarika Wilson is black, possibly Latino. The address is 218 East Third Street. We are going to go into the black community.

Suddenly the crowd of seasoned SWAT veterans gasped in shock terror. One of them raised their hand to ask a question.

Sir, this sounds dangerous and I’m afraid!

Hey mister, we’re all afraid. We’re about to go into the black neighborhood with nothing but two dozen men, our semi automatic rifles, police issued Kevlar armor, and permission to kill anything that moves on our side. Like those poor police officers that shot and killed Amadou Diallo for walking with groceries we don’t know if the guy walking out the grocery store has a bag of groceries or a bag of ammunition or a bag of drugs or whatever. We just don’t know and it’s too much of a risk to err on the side of caution. We don’t know what we’ll face in that home. So we are a go for careless and reckless behavior. So forget your training where you’re not supposed to shoot innocent bystanders or children. If it moves, it dies. Repeat! If it moves, it dies. Do we have an understanding?

A mixture of mumbled affirmatives hesitantly came from around the room. There was another question from the group. Officer Parker raised his hand.

Sergeant, do we know if there are any children in the home?

We believe there could be as many as six children in the home. The oldest is about eight and the youngest will be about one.

Shouldn’t we practice some restraint given the possibility of hitting children?

Yeah we could go over there and practice some restraint. We could go over there, ring the doorbell, and ask very politely for Anthony Terry to come out. In fact, why don’t I just call him on my cell phone right now?

There was some nervous laughter as the police sergeant pulled his personal cell phone out of his pocket and held it to his ear without dialing.

Hello? Is Anthony there? Yes, this is the police. We’d appreciate it if he would just come down to the station and give himself up in order to keep some black kids safe.

He quickly put the phone away.

Look people we are talking about a dangerous minority drug dealer with a history of marijuana and cocaine. Even if he’s not in the home we have to do everything possible to show him and the rest of the people in that godforsaken neighborhood that we are tough on black people committing crime. Are little black kids going to get hurt? I really don’t care if you hope they don’t. We have a job to do. So if it moves, it will lose. Got it?

What if she’s holding the baby?

For crying out loud, these are black people! These are hardened criminals! They had over eight ounces of crack when they were busted four years ago. They don’t care about babies. Do you really think that if we go in that house, break the front door down, and throw in a few stun grenades, that a mother of six might run to protect her children? Sure if they are white. But who knows how black people think, especially black people with a history of crime from four years ago?

But Ms. Wilson never had a gun and I’m sure her kids didn’t have guns.

Oh, and you don’t think that they can get one? Listen here Parker, I don’t think you’re up to the job tonight. You’re relieved. Does anybody else have any questions? And please don’t make it a retarded one like black people might be unarmed or don’t we care about black children and babies.

There were no further questions.

Okay people let’s go. And for god’s sake undo those safeties. Remember when in doubt, shoot’em out.

Such must have been the conversation in whatever meeting room the Lima, Ohio police used the night just a few minutes before Tarika Wilson was murdered in cold blood while holding her youngest, trying to comfort the baby just moments before police veteran and senior officer Joe Chavalia, who wrote the manual on the rules for SWAT training decided to do his Barney Fife maneuver, closed his eyes, and pulled the trigger on his riffle to snuff out her life, and potentially the life of the infant. Luckily the baby recovered from the injuries, but the finger had to be amputated. A lifetime reminder of the night the mother was murdered.

I remember watching the 1987 movie RoboCop. There was a scene with Ronny Cox as Dick Jones and Daniel O’Herlihy as the Old Man who ran the corporation. The demonstration of a new police robot had malfunctioned and the robot had killed one of the executives right there in the boardroom in front of everyone.

“Dick, I’m very disappointed!” said the Old Man with anger in his voice.
“I’m sure it’s only a glitch. A temporary setback” said Dick Jones in his most matter of fact.
“You call this a glitch?” The Old Man asked. His anger raised another notch. He continued. “We’re scheduled to begin construction in six months! Your temporary setback could cost us fifty million dollars in interest payments alone!”

When I first saw that scene I thought it was funny. No one could be that callous and uncaring towards another human being. However, my eyes have been opened over the past twenty plus years.

Here we have an instance of an unarmed mother of six being killed by Lima, Ohio’s finest and all people have to say are comments like: She committed a crime so she deserved to be killed. She was stupid enough to hold a baby when police came busting into the room. She should’ve known she was about to die. Do drugs and this is what you get. She should’ve known her boyfriend was up to no good. The poor police officer was in fear of his life.

Actually, this is what black people get. Some people like Robert Downey, Jr. do drugs and they get the leading role in one of the summer’s smash hit movies. Or someone like Tim Allen who can get busted for doing drugs and become one of the biggest stars to never take an acting lesson, at least that’s how it appears from the quality of his acting. Kelsey Grammer can feed his addiction to drugs and alcohol and win a number of Emmys and Golden Globes. All of these people can redeem themselves. But the idea that a black woman can redeem herself is just too farfetched to be entertained as a number of people say in their most matter of fact tone of voice, she deserved to die.

As a national collective, we stand ready to forgive police officers anytime they pull the trigger to kill a black person. All of their training and judgment evaporates in an all encompassing cloud of cowardice when they find themselves pointing their gun at unarmed black people. The black suspect is as good as gone. Would we be so forgiving if it was a black person who said that they killed a police officer out of fear for their life?

Your honor I shot officer McWhitington out of fear that he would recognize me as a black person and not hesitate to kill me out of his own fear. Plus, according to his records from police internal affairs, the fact that he has a history of using his car to mow down black suspects, was investigated three times for shooting unarmed black people. I didn’t know what else to do.

Chances are good that no one would buy that argument from any black person. It is a fail proof defense for use only when going on the offense in the black community. A black person is as good as dead in America.

Monday, August 25, 2008 Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Racism, Thoughts | Leave a comment