Now wait. This is just wrong. This is so wrong, as wrong in its own way as the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson just down the road on August 9. As wrong as the police killing of James Boyd in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains on March 16. As wrong as... well, we could go on. And on. And on. There are hundreds of these police killings. How many hundreds, nobody knows because there are no national statistics on police killings. But the vast majority are deemed justified and the book is closed on them, whether or not there is outrage and protest as there's been in Ferguson this Blood Summer, but not -- not yet -- in St. Louis where Kajieme Powell was shot down without a qualm by two young St. Louis police officers in front of stunned onlookers and a cameraman.
Let's watch (I know it's awful, as awful in its own way as the Albuquerque police murder of James Boyd. But it should be seen in order to comprehend just how cold-blooded the officers in this case were -- as they were in the Boyd case, though they waited longer before killing Boyd, hours rather than seconds...)
The officers, two young men, one in his twenties, the other 31, both with limited experience on the force, and with back up on the way, drive up, get out of their car and confront Powell with guns drawn, issuing commands, demanding he drop the knife he's said to be holding (in an "overhand grip" according to police, but the video shows that's not true), and when Powell doesn't do as he is commanded within seconds, they fire 12 shots, most or all of which hit Powell, several shots fired after he's on the ground, and they roughly turn the near-dead body over and handcuff him as back up officers arrive, and the shocked and appalled onlookers are pushed back.
The St. Louis police chief calls this a good shoot.
The man, after all, asked the officers to shoot him. So they did. What's to worry? Why the fuss? The officers were simply doing the man a favor, and one less Negro will now be troubling the Good People of St. Louis. Job well done, amirite?
No. No, it's wrong on every level, and we have to recognize this and say it. It's WRONG.
The St. Louis police are busy patting themselves on the back for a "good shoot" and for their marvelous transparency *they released the video, after all* in comparison to ham-handed TomFoolery and mystification by the Ferguson police in the matter of Michael Brown, where they didn't even take a report, the crumbs.
Because the StL police have been so up front about what happened, they say, there have been no disturbances in StL over this sad incident. That's because the people understand what happened and why, and they can see for themselves in this cellphone video that the StL police themselves released. So it's all good.
No. No it's not.
What we see in this video should shock our consciences to the core. It's a video of yet another summary execution in front of a number of witnesses. It's a video of police acting as judge and jury and executioner, again, as if it's perfectly normal for a police cruiser to arrive at a location, and within seconds shoot a man dead because... he doesn't do what he's told fast enough on the one hand -- though he is not threatening anyone -- and because he is in the way, black, and disposable on the other.
I first saw the video the day before yesterday shortly before I had to leave the house for a trip to Santa Fe, and I didn't see it again until yesterday. I'd heard about the shooting of course, and heard about the police chief's press conference and community meetings and so forth, and so I knew a bit about what the police and witnesses said had happened. I was alert to the fact that this incident seemed to be another summary execution on the streets and byways of the Good Ol' United States of America where this sort of thing is practically a daily occurrence.
I'm looking at it for a third time, and I'm more convinced than ever that police in America have become cowards hiding behind badges and guns and patrons who protect them, essentially no matter what they do (unless sex is involved), especially if what they do is to shoot down and beat down any potential threat to the highest of the mighty. Mentally disturbed individuals -- such as Mr. Powell appears to have been -- are particularly vulnerable to these cowards with guns and badges, most especially so if they're black and male.
There is apparently no greater threat to the realm and its masters than mentally disturbed black men. So it would seem.
And 12 seconds after the police pull up on Kajieme Powell, they shoot him dead.
In the case of James Boyd, the 40 or so officers on scene waited 4 hours or more before killing him, but they decided that the matter would have to be resolved before dark, and as Boyd was surrendering, they shot him. Time was up.
Meanwhile, in St. Louis, the police didn't wait at all. Didn't even try to de-escalate. Nothing. A few barked commands, defiance but no threat from Powell, and bam. He's dead. Case closed.
Welcome to America in the 21st Century.
Unlike the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, the police were up front about what a good shoot they thought this incident was, how Powell wanted to the shot and how the officers obliged him, and how in the end, it's just one of those things, you know? Go on about your business, there's nothing to be upset about.
But we should be upset, we should be outraged, we should be as horrified by this incident as we are with the shooting of Michael Brown and the hundreds of others killed every year by this country's police, killings that we should question regardless of whether the prosecutors or police do.
This war on the people has got to stop.