I am no fan of the “movement” Black Lives Matter. It encapsulates everything awful about America; peacocking, lack of sympathy for victims, hatemongering against police, celebrity vultures and SJW censorship.
But, and there is a big but. Conservatives need to be able to walk and chew gum. You can detest hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and still believe that black lives do matter. You can believe in #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter, you can be a proud supporter of America’s brave police officers, and you can still admit that there is a huge problem with black suspects being shot dead way too easily.
The case of elderly, 66 year old Deborah Danner is utterly horrific. Let us not excuse it. Let us not look the other way for fear of giving comfort to the likes of Deray Mickelson. She was called in as “emotionally disturbed” so police knew that she was likely to be ranting and raving. Another clue might be the fact that she was stark naked. She had scissors and a baseball bat, but is a naked, obviously psychotic 66 year old woman truly a danger to fully armed police?
Further, Deborah had already been persuaded to lower the scissors. She then went even more nuts and waved the baseball bat around. Again, remember police knew before they arrived that she was ’emotionally disturbed’ and not in her right mind, and not really responsible. Now, you can be a threat whether or not you are sane or insane, but a 66 year old woman who is stark naked and cannot be said to be possibly concealing a gun, and who is waving a baseball bat, could be manually overpowered by one or more police officers using a nightstick at worst.
Instead, an officer shot her twice in the side. She was killed.
The point that I want to make here is the lack of training for police officers, the lack of use of non-lethal force. Even if shot, what if the officer had shot her in the foot or the leg? Really, was his or her life in danger from a naked 66 year old off her meds with a baseball bat?
The lives of African Americans – of all people, of US citizens – of police officers – do matter. But crime and poverty have a high correlate. It is overwhelmingly African-Americans who are shot and killed but not always. Black Lives Matter have indeed surfaced the names of white teens shot by police.
This isn’t politics. It isn’t about police-bashing or demeaning black activists. I think the problem is systemic. I watched the documentary on prisons and slavery, The 13th, the other week with my husband. It made some good and some very poor points. But one scene stuck with me. A poor young man locked away awaiting trial for refusing to plea-bargain – who killed himself after the film interviewed him – was shown being abused in prison. He was set on by a gang of inmates and then illegally kicked and beaten up after doing nothing by a prison officer.
But as I watched in horror, I did also note that all the prisoners abusing him, and the brutal prison guard, were themselves black.
Black officers have been involved in many of the fatal shootings and accidents. In the failed prosecution over the death of Freddie Gray, the alt-right rejoiced when of the six officers charged (all were acquitted) three were also African-American. It is wrong to ascribe simple racism to the fatal shootings and deaths in custody of African-Americans. It does not fit the facts. This is not to deny that many police officers may be racists – like many Americans – but clearly the vast majority are not racists and are devoting their lives to the community.
The tragic death of a naked old lady of 66 whom the police knew was emotionally disturbed should mark an end-point. It should inspire our wonderful NYPD to look beyond false charges of “racist”! to the more important, the vital question, do our officers need training in non-lethal force? Should they carry another gun, this one stocked with rubber bullets? Tasers? What other options do we have? I do not mean to say that this was a racist killing. I was not there. I do not necessarily blame the officer who shot her. I was not there. But the facts are plain; naked, 66 year old mentally ill Deborah, ought not to have been shot dead. There were other options.
The police have the awesome responsibility to protect and serve. I could not do their job. I am grateful to them every day. I call on them for help. But when the wrong killings of African-Americans whose lives matter like blue lives matter, like my life matters, stop and slow down, the police themselves will encounter less stress and less violence. I know most police officers have no intention whatsoever to kill innocent people of any skin color. They need training on other responses than shooting, so that when they have to kill another human being, both they and the public can be satisfied that it is not done lightly.
Rest in Peace Deborah. Your death diminishes us all.