Race and the police: An unarmed black man in Sacramento, a terrorist in Austin, Texas, the LRPD | Arkansas Blog

Race and the police: An unarmed black man in Sacramento, a terrorist in Austin, Texas, the LRPD

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This story needs more attention: Sacramento police gunned down a black man in his own backyard (his grandmother's, defenders of the shooting like to point out) — no warning given before 20 shots were fired. They say they thought Stephan Clark's cell phone was a gun.

Think hard before you say the U.S. is post-racial and skin color doesn't affect police interactions on the streets.

The Austin terrorist bomber fits the discussion. He was white, product of a family that held regular Bible readings, homeschooled, politically conservative, anti-gay, anti-abortion, pro-death penalty. Here's the Austin police chief describing a 25-minute taped statement the terrorist left behind:

"He does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate,” Manley said. “But instead it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life.”
Imagine if the man had been Muslim. Or a Salvadoran without papers. Imagine the Trump Tweets. He wouldn't have been talking about a challenged young man's difficult personal life.

Also add this dimension to the Austin terror bombings: It's a story about the first family struck by the bomber, a black family. Stephan House was killed by a package on his doorstep. The excerpt quotes his brother Waynewood.



When he arrived in Austin after racing from New Mexico to get home, Waynewood was shocked to find that there were no police apparently monitoring his family, when a targeted explosion had happened just hours earlier.

“If there’s been an explosion or bomb, and my family was targeted, why was there no guard outside? Why are they alone?” he said. “I don’t know officer protocol, but I want to believe if there was a family threatened like that, they would be protected.”

Then, police treated House like a suspect in his own death.

“We can’t rule out that Mr. House didn’t construct this himself and accidentally detonate it,” APD Assistant Chief Joseph Chacon told reporters at the time, noting that there was no continuing threat to the public.

“I do not believe that we have someone going around leaving packages like this,” he said.

They had “lulled the public into a false sense of security and not kept them on high alert,” thus playing down his brother’s death, said Waynewood.
Locally relevant? I think so.

Thanks largely to the advocacy of the Little Rock Black Police Officers Association and an aggressive lawyer, Mike Laux, Little Rock is grappling with police/racial issues now, but not nearly enough at the city leadership level. The facts demand consideration. Most white officers on a majority white force choose not to live in a city where half the people are black and brown, in part because of crime. Do all officers protect and serve? Or do some view themselves as an occupying force standing guard?

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