On my my main Wordpress blog I wrote about the murder of Trayvon Martin and linked it to the sudden outgrowth and acceptance of lawless murdering of people through stand your grounds ("shoot first") laws; I likened these new laws to the acceptance of lynch mobs so prevalent in the US throughout the 19th century and into the 1930s where mobs of (white) people instead of going to court to try someone accused of a crime simply hung him (or her). It was transparent ploy to act violently by one group of people who had the power and privilege to on other groups of people or individuals helpless against them. The transparent pretense is the person with the gun killing the other person is afraid for himself and is acting in self-defense, and has the right to decide on the spot he (it's always a he) is in the right.
I am not alone in expressing outrage and horror and desolation and fear at what this meant. The murderer, Zimmerman, was finally taken into custody, arrested after weeks and weeks of delay, and will now be tried but since he has been let out on bail, the way the case is talked about in the media, it seems that the man will go free and not pay for this crime since the powerful in this society want to have such "laws" (permission for ordinary citizens to kill). The laws have spread because the National Rifle Association and ALEC (a reactionary powerful group) have sent lobbyists with big bribes and pressure to pass them across the US in states where groups of people are wedded to the gun culture. They want not only to own guns, and hunt animals, but the right to use them against other people.
But it seems that even this kind of transparent pretense was not necessary for Kenneth Chamberlain. A black man in his sixties with a bad heart, he was unlucky enough to have a battery-operated device around his neck which was to alert medics if his heart began to fail. Alas, he rolled over in his sleep and a group of police were sent to his apartment. He became (rightly) very frightened and would not let them in. They -- none of them black apparently -- became indignant and broke down his door. When he would not kowtow to them but persisted in trying to get them to leave his apartment, they tasered this man with a heart attack going on. They stun-gunned him. When this apparently made him hysterical, they killed him. Shot him dead. It was alleged he had an axe at first, but it appears the police had the axe or crow bar to break down the door. It was alleged he had a huge knife; now it seems he terrified (?) the police with a butter knife.
I watched the video and listened to the tape of Chamberlain trying to protect himself from the police. I heard one police officer yell "nigger" on the other side of the door as he let Chamberlain know they were determined to get in. I heard the phone calls to the officers who told the phoning medic to mind her own business (they were taking care of it). I heard the man's sister put off as she tried to offer to come to help the man. The 60 year old man was in his underwear and looked like he was shaking. There was no weapon. I heard his cries and pleas. He never did cry "mercy" because probably they would have laughed.
Chamberlain's son and his lawyers have tried unsuccessfully to get these police officers indicated and arrested for murder. They have now failed. We cannot know the evidence that was presented to the grand jury which declined to indite but it is common apparently for juries to refuse to indite police, I remember the Rodney King incident where there was a video of the police beating this man mercilessly and the jury inured to the video after a while, did not convict. It was an all white jury, King was black,and the officers black.
The supreme court has now said police arresting someone have the right to strip search that person (humiliate, terrify, tie down even if there is no evidence of any crime. They are acting in self-defense and against terrorists is the excuse.
At the time I did not understand the significance of the incident where a black professor, Henry Gates, was arrested in his own house by a police officer who said he had the right to because he suspected Gates did not have the right to be there, because Gates resisted arrest. Gates would not kowtow right away. He at first did not produce papers showing he owned the house. Apparently a woman had seen Gates having trouble with his key getting into this fancy house. The wikipedia article I linked in says both Gates and the officer were equally responsible for the incident almost leading to the maiming and worse of Gates. This is like when Yvette was in school and was bullied I was told she was equally responsible for somehow inciting the bullies.
Now I do understand. As a black man you are in grave danger in this US country from the police (and the huge imprisoning system and its Draconian laws increasingly set up to fill prisons with long-term prisoners, mostly black because private companies want to have people in their prisons to justify their fees and they handle these people by the torture of solitary confinement). And an ordinary citizen you are in danger because the supreme court, the ordinary courts, and the norms at large allow police can do anything they want to you too (man, woman, child), if they claim self-defense. I include children because increasingly punitive school norms are emerging which give very young child no second chance if they somehow disobey or displease an authority figure or break a rule deemed important by the authorities. They can be suspended automatically and thus hurt (lose out on school work, be made to feel bad about themselves, ostracized).
I have had the personal experience to know of a disabled person who was bullied by a cop because the person was so upset that she almost was run over by a car (she jaywalked); when the car swerved and did not kill her, the people in it got out to express distress not anger. When they saw the police officer growing irritated with the person because she did not produce the "right replies" right away, they fled. Luckily she is a small white female and was just "warned" aggressively, left to be frightened .She does not drive because of two others such incidents with police officers who pulled her over and bullied her for going too slow. Occasionally news stories tell of how police were exonerated by their conduct to a disabled person and the person rightly put in prison or on probation because they were "difficult," threatening. Actually put in prison too.