Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby Kills Terence Crutcher

On September 16, 2016 Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby shot and killed one U.S. citizen named Terence Crutcher. Mr. Crutcher was unarmed. He had no gun on his person or in his vehicle. His vehicle had stalled or broken down. There were no warrants for Mr. Crutcher's arrest. Police did not apparently render any assistance to Mr. Crutcher. They evidently did not put out any hazard lights, offer him a jump, help move the vehicle off the road, try to determine the problem with the vehicle, or call for a tow truck or roadside assistance. These are the things that most citizens who are having car trouble would expect the police to do. After all police are supposed to serve and protect. Unfortunately Mr. Crutcher was a black man. The police immediately saw him as a threat. In no short time after their arrival the police are yelling things at Mr. Crutcher and have him surrounded. Mr. Crutcher has his hands up. A police officer in a helicopter says that Mr. Crutcher "looks like a bad dude". And shortly after that two police officers almost simultaneously tase and shoot Mr. Crutcher. The police don't even bother to tend to the dying man's wounds but instead let him bleed out. They appeared to be more concerned with making sure that Officer Shelby was emotionally okay. Shelby has not been arrested or charged yet. I'm not being fashionably cynical when I write that I will be surprised if she does goes to trial. Her attorney is of course reaching for the tried and true tactic of claiming fear of the "big black man". Quite often this is a literal get out of jail card for white police officers. As many people on twitter have pointed out at this point if someone doesn't understand that there is a problem with police use of force against black people, disproportionately black men and boys, then they don't want to know. Most people will have car trouble at some point in our lives. Imagine running into someone who is so consumed with fear and hatred of you that there is literally nothing you can say or do that will not be interpreted as a threat. Well Mr. Crutcher didn't have to imagine that scenario. He was a Black man in America. He knew the deal. He kept his hands up even though he'd committed no crime. And he still died.

The usual suspects are already lining up to defend the police and claim that if only Crutcher had done x, y, and z then he'd still be alive. Whatever. This is the pure essence of racism-the ignorant unreasoning and unconstrained loathing of blackness. Shelby and company constructed a threat in their minds that did not exist and then acted on it. If you are so racist that blackness itself is a deadly threat then you shouldn't have the authority of the state or be able to carry weapons. This is not a training problem. This is a consequences problem. For the record you can watch the videos below. So far the people who were blasting Colin Kaepernick for his protest about police killings and brutality haven't had too much to say. Mr. Crutcher's family and their attorney speak in the last video.

Attorneys and Family Press Conference Video
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