Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Racist Police in an Indiana Nordstrom

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg recently threw his hat in the Presidential race. African-American NYT columnist Charles Blow wrote a column excoriating both Bloomberg for his stop-and-frisk policy and those people who supported him. Many self-identified otherwise liberal commenters responded negatively to Blow's column. 

They suggested openly and in code that they were willing to ignore the Fourth Amendment rights of Black men and boys in NYC because it made the white commenters feel safer. And anyway stop and frisk was good for Black people, regardless of what Black people seemed to think.

It's probably important to remind people what it looks and sounds like when an armed agent of the state stops a citizen and attempts to harass or bully him solely because of the color of his skin. This being America, one doesn't have to wait long for such an example. In Indiana a suburban Indianapolis police officer decided that two Black men looked suspicious because they shopped at Nordstrom. 

Apparently Deputy Constable Daryl Jones doesn't think Black men should be stopping at Nordstrom. The officer is sending the message that he doesn't want Black men in that area. And given that this person had both a gun and a license from the state to use it, things could have gone very badly for the two Black men. Fortunately they are still alive and unharmed. Still, it is my hypothesis that the continual flight or fight responses engendered by hostile racist encounters, and the adrenaline and cortisol produced, likely play a role in the higher hypertension rates and earlier death rates experienced by Black men in America. Notice that Jones becomes hyper agitated when the men stand up for their rights. This leads me to believe that the real issue is that like a typical racist Jones believes that whiteness makes him always right.

A police officer in suburban Indianapolis has been fired after video of his confrontation with two Black customers at a department store went viral. Lawrence Township Deputy Constable Daryl Jones approached cousins Aaron Blackwell and Durell Cunningham as they were driving out of the parking lot of a Nordstrom Rack store, as seen in a clip posted to YouTube by Blackwell last week. 

Chief Constable Terry Burns fired Jones immediately after viewing the footage, according to NBC affiliate WTHR

“He was terminated last night when the video was brought to my attention. I did see the video and made the decision immediately and that pretty speaks of my reaction,” Burns said, according to local station RTV6.

The two men began filming the Nov. 12 incident as their vehicle approached Jones, who they said watched them make their purchases inside the store and then followed them outside. In the video, Jones approaches the car, and demands to see the driver’s license. When the men questioned why they were being asked for ID, Jones replied: “Because I told you to.”

This happened in Indiana, which of course has a certain reputation for being racist friendly, but it could have just as easily happened in any of the fifty states. This is the definition of stop-and-frisk:police ignore the law, make up a reason to find a Black man or boy suspicious and attempt to search him and/or force him to submit, insulting or humiliating them in the process if he's "lucky" or doing worse if he's not.

Every citizen, even those who are Black men and boys, has rights under the Fourth Amendment to be left alone, absent some individualized action. Fortunately the Indianapolis police officer who showed up knew the law. And it's a good thing that Daryl Jones no longer has a job. 
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