Friday, April 10, 2015
Michael Brown, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, and Walter Scott's Chances of Outrunning Bullets
That was the chance that Michael Brown, Antonio Zambrano-Montes, and Walter Scott had of outrunning bullets from police officer's guns.
In the wake of another police killing of an unarmed Black man, we the people find ourselves in a similar position yet again. And you shouldn't have to be concerned with racial issues or police relations for this to strike a chord with you; this effects everyone. It appears we're not only repeating the cycle of police officers killing unarmed people of color, but we're also asking for the same outcomes (for it to stop). Should we wait patiently for change like good little boys & girls or take what we want? Should we encourage the people of our community to arm themselves by weaponry to fight back? If #BlackLivesMatter, one more death is one too many. And if you're questioning my methods, you're thinking inside the box. I want to abolish the box, because this is another method used to constrain creative/innovative ideas for change. The system is broken and if we're really about change, we need transformative visions. Law enforcement and municipal leaders that are looking for alternative measures in policing rarely accept outside analytical minds on their committees. And it's because of this, Walter Scott never had a chance.
If Walter Scott never had a chance, how can any person of color caught in a system of oppression do any better? We're all slaves inside the system, just some have learned to play the game better than others. Our current legal system has put forth numerous laws since the nation's inception to correct a time of legalized discrimination, war, and genocide (the more corrupt the state, the more laws). And the nation still can't get it right. Maybe Walter Scott's action of running away from the police was symbolic? As Scott ran away from the police officer who killed him, he must have felt like he was running in slow motion; I wonder if he saw his life flash before his eyes? In reality, we're written into a narrative that leaves little hope because we're all still fighting for something; running towards or from something, like Walter Scott did, in the supposed "land of the free." And when we finish that race of life, what good can we say we left behind? These are musings from an activist, a fighter, and revolutionary who, like many of you--I'm sure, is sick of the same ole business as usual relations between people of color and the police. Change is happening, but it's happening too slowly and we're not satisfied.
Many of us are angry as we're being programmed that orange jumpsuits are the new hip trend, led to believe that body cameras on police and more Black/Brown police officers will solve everything, or trying to convince conservative thinkers that #BlackLivesMatter. And now as police brass step up to denounce Walter Scott's killing, we're going to wait for the action to validate the lip service. Charging killer cops with murder is a start, but the culture of policing needs to change.
Walter Scott never had a chance because Michael Brown didn't. The only difference in these two cases is one was recorded on camera. Walter Scott reached to grab the officer's tazer just like Mike Brown reached for Darren Wilson's gun. How I knew this story was bogus from the beginning? What kid from the hood wants anything to do with the police as they roll up, let alone talk shit by telling the officer "You are too much of a pussy to shoot me"? Had there been no cameras involved, Officer Micahel Slager would have been deemed as a cop doing his job, just like Darren Wilson was. In reality, both of these officers are puppets to a system of injustice. I know this to be true because I've seen the interview process for several police departments up close. I'm not calling all police officers monkeys because I know several who serve with honor. On the other hand, I also know a good number of police officers who have quit the force. What do they know that we don't? Were they tired of the culture of corruption, coverups, and abuse of authority? Taking on an enormous unethical system is difficult so I can see why good men would leave. Viewing how Officer Michael Slager so nonchalantly planted the tazer next to Walter Scott validates how easy these actions are for officers to accomplish.
And I'm more than positive that a few cops and their supporters are angry for me writing about this; I know you'd rather ignore the problems that a racist culture created outright, but I refuse to continue watching police hunt down Black/Brown men like its sport. Walter Scott was no different than Antonio Zambrano-Montes. Is there anyone out there that would like to publicly admit that Walter Scott got what he deserved? Surely there are some who believe this; why else would so many rush to financially support the officer who shot him with a GoFundMe drive? Even if you're an avid supporter of the police, how could anyone support Slager after watching what he did?
Watching the video of Walter Scott being shot in the back numerous times reminded me of several movies on slavery; in the scene, the slavemaster telling the slave, "I'll give you five seconds to run and then I'm shooting." And as horrific as this sounds, what else could have sent Walter Scott running away in such terror? What sent him running out of his car? Did Scott actually think he'd get away? What could have the Slager said? What are the chances that Walter Scott outran those bullets? Should he just stepped back and told the officer to kill him? What could have transpired moments before Walter ran away?
And I know what Malcolm X said was true; there are officers who have traded in their white gowns for blue uniforms. I'm convinced of it.
Do you know what's really crippling? All of the groups, people, and institutions that advocate for progressive change on issues like a biased criminal justice system, yet the inequalities, tragedies, and adverse relations persist. Could there be a stronger, underlying force that dictates and hinders any change? How long can we go with seeing such violent images of Black/Brown men running away from police only to be shot dead? Even if the police tell these men not to run, is it still acceptable to kill them when they do? Furthermore, we still see the elite aggressively pushing for regressive legislative bills against LGBT individuals, restricting abortion laws, and (my personal favorite) TX HB 2918, which would effectively ban people from recording police officers. It seems that the people who put these measures in place want to stop progress and continue the status quo.
And as a result, we're coming to a boiling point between the haves and the have-nots. As the politicians read "My Pet Goat," nestled in a safehouse bunker; completely out of touch, out of harm's way, and unconcerned, we still demand justice. A time is coming that we're all not just going to write/talk about it; let these words be a prelude to the action. This may be the last civil gasp of our time. These words represent a generation of frustrated people. We're criticized when why we riot/loot but it's because frustrations manifest themselves in so many physical forms. And a system that has purposely denigrated the people for so long leave us no option but to destroy that system. We have better chances of succeeding outside of the political system than Black/Brown men do of outrunning bullets.
Lastly, for the record: I stand by these words and I'll challenge any naysayer to a live debate. Forget commenting on this post, because I likely won't respond but I'll be damn happy that I ruffled your feathers. If you stand by your convictions with reason, come see me and we'll discuss these matters for an audience to see. I'm not too hard to find.
Peace (no more shootings) and justice.
Maximo Anguiano is a scholar, actor, and creative. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram.
(Image from NY Daily News)