The massive, nationwide epidemic of bad cops murdering innocent, primarily black, civilians has me wondering something that I’m sure we’ve all discussed but were afraid to put in writing:
If you are about to be killed, could you defend yourself with lethal force, regardless of the identity of your attacker?
Obviously, you should defend yourself, simply because you want to live and you have the right to live. Even if you’ve committed a crime, your guilt is supposed to be determined by a court of law, not by a bad cop who feel he’s the judge, jury and executioner. But lets say you have done nothing wrong, you’re about to be killed, and you have a weapon at hand to prevent that from happening – could you defend yourself with lethal force? What if a bad cop was about to kill your child? Or your sibling? Is the superiority of law enforcement, perceived or real, embedded so deeply in your brain that you would let them die?
Alternet published an article on what happens when an innocent person uses lethal force to protect themselves and a cop ends up dead. The article focused on cases when SWAT teams or narcotics officers burst into an innocent person’s home, leaving the occupant no choice but to shoot at what appeared to be armed burglars. How is self defense with lethal force handled by the justice system when the person killed is a cop? Not surprisingly, it depends on your race:
A very similar incident occurred in Burleson County, Texas on December 19, 2013, when a SWAT team carried out a no-knock drug raid on the home of Henry Magee (who is white). An informant had claimed that Magee had a major marijuana-growing operation, and during the raid, Magee shot and killed one of the officers, Adam Sowders. Although Magee stressed that he believed he was being robbed and had no idea he was shooting at police officers, he was facing the possibility of being prosecuted for capital murder. But in February, a grand jury decided that Magee legitimately believed he was acting in self-defense—and Magee was not indicted.
[ … ]
Dick DeGuerin, Magee’s attorney, has pointed out that the grand jury’s decision to not indict him is the exception instead of the rule: in most cases, Americans who kill a narcotics officer during a drug raid are vigorously prosecuted—even if the evidence indicates that they genuinely believed they were acting in self-defense and the raid was not justified.
In the cases listed in the article, people of color were indicted while the white guy was not. Its clear that people of color don’t enjoy the same presumption of innocence. In fact, a black person with a gun is immediately presumed to be guilty, even though we all (supposedly) enjoy the same Second Amendment rights. A few months ago, an interesting video appeared on YouTube showing what happens when a black man carries openly in an open carry state, versus a white man. Clearly, the cops assumed the black man was a threat and the white man was not.
I’ve often wondered why more black men don’t open carry in open carry states. The video gives the obvious answer, but what if hundreds or thousands of black men exercised that right? Back in August, Oath Keepers, a group roundly despised by lefties, did something unexpected: they announced plans to instruct blacks on their Second Amendment right to bear arms. From a Newsweek interview of Sam Andrews of Oath Keepers:
“St. Louis County police have so violated the people’s rights that the people in the black communities here believe if they even thought about publicly exercising their God-given right for protection, for carrying a firearm, that they would be shot dead by the police—that’s a real issue,” he says.
In Andrews’s opinion, this fear has contributed to destructive protests.
“They don’t know how to react to the abuse, so they throw rocks and bottles and do other silly stuff, but we are flying black Oath Keepers in from around the country to educate the black leaders and the people of Ferguson that not only can you open carry, you should open carry,” he says. “The peaceful protesters, the lawful people which make up the vast majority of protesters, should be quietly standing there with rifles, saying: ‘We’re not going to take this abuse anymore.’”
“It’s one thing to say, “I hate you, and I throw a rock at you,’” he continues. “It’s another thing to stand there and say, ‘Don’t screw with me anymore,’ and be able to back it up.”
Hold onto your hat, because this is probably the only time you’ll see me agreeing with a conservative: I agree with Sam Andrews. Every American is supposed to enjoy the same rights, including the right to bear arms. You may not want to own a gun, but that right is there for you, regardless of race. Open carry laws are not written to exclude by race. I think its clear nothing will change for African Americans until they’re able to say to bad cops, “Don’t screw with me anymore”.
Besides the issue of self defense and bad cops, there’s a cultural issue that makes the problem especially difficult to resolve: we have a problem in this country idolizing people based on their profession. Doctors, lawyers, actors, musicians, first responders, religious leaders, and cops. In my view, the primary reason we cannot resolve this issue of bad cops murdering innocent civilians is that bad cops are being defended by good cops attempting to perpetuate the myth that all cops are noble and trustworthy. Absolutes are almost never true. The same thing happened with the Catholic Church scandal: priests who raped children should have been immediately turned over to law enforcement (yes, I see the irony). Instead, they were defended by the church and/or moved to new parishes where they had no history of rape, just to start a new reign of terror over innocent children. The priesthood is no longer seen as a noble profession because of the way in which the church handled the abusers (and the abused). All professions include very bad individuals and we should always be alert and ready to bring them to justice. If police departments around the nation had the strength to reject bad cops, I believe we would be having an entirely different conversation. One in which law enforcement is still seen as a noble profession. Instead, we’re discussing how to protect ourselves from bad cops.