Saturday, November 28, 2015

Racism and Bigotry Are Alive and Well in America


I pray in front of two abortion clinics (both located in the same building) in downtown Brooklyn every week.  I see the young women entering that building.  I am always amazed that 90% to 95% of those women are African American, despite the fact that these clinics are in a predominantly white upper class neighborhood.  The clinics - by no coincidence - are located within less than a block to numerous train and bus lines, thus making them readily available to other poorer neighborhoods.

Below is a chart from an article in The American Mirror showing the rate of abortions in NYC broken down by race, and which sadly bears out my observations.  In New York City, over 60% of African American pregnancies end in abortion, meaning more African American babies are aborted in this city than are actually born:


For those African Americans who do manage to actually be born, they are targeted by police in larger numbers than any other racial group.  From an article posted by The Guardian in June 2015:
The number of people killed by police in the United States during 2015 reached 500 on Wednesday, according to a Guardian investigation, after two young black men were shot dead in New York City and Cincinnati.
. . .
The updated findings on fatalities so far this year means that the total is on track to exceed 1,000 by the end of 2015 – and that people are being killed by officers at more than twice the rate most recently detected by the much-criticised FBI system, which recorded 461 killed in 2013.
While the number of African Americans killed by police so far in 2015 has been disproportionately high, both white and Hispanic/Latino Americans now make up proportions of those killed that are smaller than their shares of the general US public.
Among the first 500 deaths, 49.6% of people were white, 28.2% were black and 14.8% were Hispanic/Latino. According to the 2013 census, the US population is 62.6% white, 13.2% black and 17.1% Hispanic/Latino.
As can be seen here, although only 13.2% of the US population is African American, they comprise 28.2% of persons shot dead by the police.  Below is a chart from another Guardian article breaking down by race the unarmed people who have been killed by police:


As the article states:
Black Americans are more than twice as likely to be unarmed when killed during encounters with police as white people, according to a Guardian investigation which found 102 of 464 people killed so far this year in incidents with law enforcement officers were not carrying weapons.
An analysis of public records, local news reports and Guardian reporting found that 32% of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, as were 25% of Hispanic and Latino people, compared with 15% of white people killed

Now we hear of another shooting in Chicago which actually occurred over 13 months ago and has been covered up until just recently. Laquan McDonald, a 17 year old black man, who was carrying a 3 inch pocket knife, was shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer after Laquan had been discovered breaking into cars on the south side of Chicago. A couple of other cops had trailed him, and allege that he slashed a police tire with the knife and tried to break a side car window. They called for backup.

Officer Jason Van Dyke was one of those responding. Six seconds after getting out of his car, he began to shoot Laquan, who was actually walking away from the police, as the video shows. As can be seen in this still from the video, Laquan was an entire car lane away from Van Dyke and posing no threat at all when Van Dyke began shooting:


The bullets hit Laquan with such force that he spun around and then immediately fell to the ground.


Van Dyke shot 14 more bullets into Laquan while he laid motionless on the ground. his body jerking at the impact of the bullets. After emptying his gun into Laquan, who never fought back and was lying in a fetal position on the street, Van Dyke actually started to reload and was going to continue firing when a fellow officer finally stopped him.


It was especially distressing to watch the video and see that, after the shooting, not one police officer went to Laquan to check on him.  Another cop car pulled up after the shooting, and still no one went near Laquan.  The only thing we see is one officer kicking the knife out of Laquan's motionless hand.

This story is horrific on its face, but the cover-up is even worse.  This murder occurred on October 20, 2014 . The next day in the Chicago papers, the shooting was reported in the Chicago Tribune as follows:
Police received a call of someone trying to break into cars near 40th and Karlov in Archer Heights around 9:45 p.m. Monday, according to Pat Camden, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police.
A squad car arrived on the scene, and officers spotted the teen -- later identified as Laquan McDonald -- standing next to a car with a knife in his hand, Camden said. The teen began walking toward Pulaski Road and ignored the officers' requests to drop the knife, Camden said.
"He's got a 100-yard stare. He's staring blankly," Camden said of the teen. "[He] walked up to a car and stabbed the tire of the car and kept walking."

Officers remained in their car and followed McDonald as he walked south on Pulaski Road. More officers arrived and police tried to box the teen in with two squad cars, Camden said. McDonald punctured one of the squad car's front passenger-side tires and damaged the front windshield, police and Camden said.
Officers got out of their car and began approaching McDonald, again telling him to drop the knife, Camden said. The boy allegedly lunged at police, and one of the officers opened fire.
McDonald was shot in the chest and taken to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:42 p.m. He lived in the 500 block of North Springfield Avenue, about 5 miles from where he was shot.
Camden said a knife was recovered from the scene. A statement from Police News Affairs said no officers were injured.
Camden said none of the officers who responded had a Taser to use on the teen and were trying to detain him long enough for one to arrive. He said officers were forced to defend themselves.
"When police tell you to drop a weapon, all you have to do is drop it," Camden said.
As can be seen from this narrative, the public was basically fed a pack of lies.  Since the video was from the dash of a police vehicle, all interested parties - from the Police Commissioner to the Mayor - were able to view it and know the truth of the matter.  The only result of this was to continue to hide the truth from the public and put Van Dyke on paid desk duty.

It is also interesting to note that a surveillance video from a nearby Burger King which recorded the entire shooting was immediately seized and destroyed by the police.


Additionally, in April 2015 the Chicago City Council unanimously voted to award $5 million in settlement to Laquan's family.  This is not normal procedure, to say the least.  A lawsuit was never even filed, and yet the family received $5 million from a city that is hard up for cash.  

In all of this, the City, under the leadership of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, refused to release the dash cam video.  Finally, 13 months after the shooting and after a FOIA request was filed, a judge ordered the release of the video.  It was only then that Van Dyke, who had been on paid desk duty, was charged with first degree murder and placed under arrest without bail.  

The scariest thing about all of this is that without the video, Van Dyke would never have been charged with anything and no one would ever know the truth of Laquan McDonald's murder.  Jason Van Dyke would still be a Chicago police officer reigning terror on who knows how many other people.  As I heard someone recently say, the technology is new - the cameras are new - but the violence is not new.  

This kind of behavior has been rampant for generations in the United States.  It is in the fabric of our society, and we need to admit it.  Racism has been an integral part of American society beginning with slavery, and it has never left us.  It is no longer as apparent on the surface as it once was, but in some ways, I think it more dangerous and more deadly.  Now racism consists of killing black babies in the womb and calling it "choice", or killing black men on the street and calling it "self defense."  

And now it is actually possible that an outright fascist - Donald Trump - who promotes hatred and racism, may be elected president.  

I fear for our country in so many ways.  


2 comments:

  1. Catholic in Brooklyn, do you consider Michael Voris an anti-Semite?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have never heard Voris speak in anti-Semitic terms in any way. It seems the big issue with Voris is destroying Church hierarchy. That seems to be his big goal in life.

      Delete

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