Police work

As an old white coot, it pisses me off to see cops murdering young unarmed black men under the guise of “police work.” And if all these corpses are pissing me off, I can imagine how it's all playing in places like Oakland, Chicago, and Detroit.

What was ridiculously bizarre during those weeks in August when Ferguson was Ground Zero for the Hands Up Don't Shoot movement was that cops just kept right on killing young unarmed black men. Business as usual. Michael Brown was murdered on Saturday August 9th. On Monday night the 11th, all of two days later, LA cops shot and killed 25-year-old Ezell Ford, an unarmed man diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia. On Aug. 19, a 25-year-old man, Kajieme Powell, was shot to death in St. Louis. This killing was captured on cell phone video, and it's greatly disturbing, because what we see isn't what anyone would call good police work. What we see is an instant and merciless execution.

The Powell shooting is right there on YouTube for anybody who dares to watch. We see Powell setting up the two cans of Red Bull on the sidewalk that he just shoplifted so as to draw the cops. The police arrive, get out of the car, and face Powell. Within seconds, after Powell approaches them with a reported but not obvious steak knife, he's dead on the ground, being shot 12 times by both cops. Twelve! It's a hideous mess of what is essentially a municipal murder, and a glaring example of lazy, gun-based police work that would have been barely acceptable in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1873, much less modern America.

Blowing a man up with bullets is supposed to be the last step. The place you get to when all else—negotiation, disarming, apprehension—fails. None of these intermediate steps were taken in the case of Kajieme Powell. The cops say Powell came at them with his big bad steak knife saying crazy stuff like “Shoot me” and “Kill me.” And boy, oh, boy, are these two cops happy to oblige. But, goddamn. For starters, no effort was made to elude this guy, which could have been accomplished had the cops simply stayed in the car. There were no attempts to disarm Powell, which could have been done quickly by any cop with a basic amount of karate or tae kwan do training. What about tasers? What about warning shots? What about a bullet in the thigh? Why are all these bodies just piling up on the streets of America? Why don't these young black men ever get wounded? Why do they all somehow get dead?

This is bad juju, man, the vile, ugly tumor that continues to fester on America's soft, white underbelly, pumping it full of hateful malevolence.