December 3, 2014

UNLIKE FERGUSON, THIS ONE SEEMED PRETTY CLEAR-CUT TO ME: No Indictment in Videotaped NYPD Chokehold Death. A few observations:

(1) His initial crime: Selling “looseys” — individual cigarettes — in violation of NYC tax law. When you pass a law, however trivial, you are providing an opportunity for police to use lethal force. That’s why I favor fewer laws, not more.

(2) I saw someone on Twitter saying that if you expect a Staten Island grand jury to indict a cop, then you don’t know Staten Island. That may be the case, but it shouldn’t be. If police can’t be accountable for their use of force, then we shouldn’t have police. Fire ’em all and privatize. We’re not supposed to have titles of nobility in this country.

(3) Listening to NPR on the way back from the UT Studio — I taped a segment on this for The Independents on Fox Business tonight — they kept stressing that it was a WHITE officer who had killed a BLACK MAN. You could pretty much hear the capitals in their voices. They’d never stress race that way in other circumstances. And it’s not clear that excessive force by police is especially a racial problem. In Alabama, we had the shooting of a unarmed white 18-year old by a black cop; in Utah, we had the Dillan Taylor shooting, also unarmed, also not prosecuted. Racializing the issue makes it more divisive and less likely to be addressed.

UPDATE: