Monday, April 12, 2021

Police Continue to Attack Black Men: Antone Austin and Caron Nazario

I could change only the names and dates in the two stories in this post and the events would be identical to other incidents of police assault on Black men in America during the past four centuries. 
Police see a Black man and attack the Black man, even if the Black man was not committing any crime or civil violation. Police use or threaten deadly force when neither the use of force or the threatened escalation was legal or necessary. 
Police dismiss objections by saying the Black man deserved it for not immediately falling to his knees and begging massa not to whip him. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. 
These incidents can occur any time, any place. When police receive a call about a man violating a restraining order they should obtain information on who the man is, his name and description, his clothing and location. But apparently LAPD officers don't bother with those details. They select a Black man in the general vicinity and attack. Though the alleged violator of the restraining order was White, it was the Black man who was choked and beaten. 
Music producer Antone Austin says his life was turned upside down about two years ago when police officers arrested him and his girlfriend outside his California home in what a federal lawsuit against the city of Los Angeles claims was a case of racial profiling, excessive force and unlawful arrest.
With a trial date set for October, Austin, known professionally as Tone Stackz, hopes a pretrial effort to make public the Los Angeles Police Department's body camera video of the incident will shed light on his lawsuit's civil rights claims and help with what his attorney, Faisal Gill, described as a "black hole": their effort to get the criminal charges dropped.

The federal lawsuit, filed last year, alleges that the couple were wrongly arrested in front of Austin's duplex apartment on May 24, 2019. shortly after his upstairs neighbor called the police to enforce a restraining order in a domestic dispute.
When officers arrived at his Hollywood address, the suit alleges, Austin happened to be taking the trash to the curb. "When I first saw the cops, I looked at them with more of a smile, 'Hey, how are you doing,' type of vibe, and when I realized that they were coming at me and I could see the anger in these cops' eyes while they were approaching me, it was like, 'What is happening?'" Austin said. 
The officers approached Austin, a Black man who is 6 feet, 5 inches tall, and he raised his hands, but officers immediately began to apply excessive force without asking him for his name or identification or whether he lived there, the suit alleges.
Even after the caller of the initial complaint informed officers that Mr. Austin was not the perpetrator, they continued to unlawfully seize Mr. Austin, placing him in a choke hold and tackling him to the ground and twisting his arms in positions causing extreme pain," the suit alleges.
His girlfriend, singer Michelle Michlewicz, 30, rushed from the shower and tried to intervene before she was pushed by an officer into the street, where her clothing came undone, exposing her body to the public, the suit alleges. The couple were taken to jail and held before they posted bail after midnight, the suit says. Austin was charged with felony resisting arrest and assault on a police officer; his bail was set at $7,000. Michlewicz was charged with felony lynching, a California law against "the taking by means of a riot of another person from the lawful custody of a peace officer" that carries a maximum of four years in prison. Her bail was set at $50,000.  LINK


Apparently not wanting to be outdone by their LAPD brothers in blue, two Windsor, Virginia police officers decided to pepper spray and physically assault US Army Lieutenant, one Caron Nazario, who was simply driving his new vehicle home. The officers claimed to have not seen a license plate, but the temporary tags are in Lieutenant Nazario's rear window. 

Now rather than simply stop Lieutenant Nazario, and calmly ask him for license, registration and proof of insurance, as they no doubt do with hundreds of other (white) motorists, the police approach with guns drawn, issue threats, and immediately escalate to violence. Realizing later that they were in the wrong they offered to not write up this encounter provided Lieutenant Nazario didn't sue.

I don't think the problem was that they didn't see tags. I think that the police saw a Black man driving a late model vehicle and assumed that the Black man must be a thief or a drug dealer. And even if he's not the cops seem to enjoy harassing Black men, anyway. Just because.

Caron Nazario was driving his newly-purchased Chevy Tahoe home when two police officers pulled him over in Windsor, Virginia, whipped out their guns, and started barking orders. With their weapons raised, the officers demanded that Nazario, a Black and Latino man, get out of the SUV. Nazario looked in the mirror and saw he was being held at gunpoint, then placed his cellphone on his dashboard to film the December 5 encounter. He repeatedly asked to know what was going on. At one point, he even admitted to being afraid to leave the vehicle.

“Yeah, you should be,” one of the officers responded. 

Nazario, a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, was coming home from work and in full uniform at the time.“I’m serving this country, and this is how I’m treated?” Nazario told the officers, according to his cellphone video. 
By the end of the incident, the cops would threaten Nazario, pepper-spray him in the face, and knee-strike him in the legs, according to body camera footage, Nazario’s cellphone video, and legal filings. Later, when Nazario was in tears and on the ground of a gas station parking lot as officers put him in handcuffs, he repeated, “This is f**ked up, this is f**ked up.” LINK

So to recap, police assaulted and arrested two Black men who had committed no crimes. If you had a dog that ran around biting people you would eventually need to put that dog down. As I have written before there have been revolutions started for much less--including the one that resulted in the founding of this country.

I believe that American police culture is completely broken. There is no amount of anti-bias training or de-escalation intervention or lawsuit cost or state/federal oversight that will change this sort of aggressive unlawful racist behavior. From sea to shining sea and all points in between cops harass, assault, brutalize, and kill Black men with no fear of consequences. The ONLY thing that might give police pause, is as we saw, the promise of immediate and/or certain retaliatory violence. 

Police decided to talk to Cliven Bundy once Bundy's armed to the teeth friends and relatives made it crystal clear that if police used force, Bundy and company wouldn't be the only ones bleeding. THAT'S how you make people use their words instead of immediately beating you upside the head. Situations like these are why I do not understand people who think that the police should be the only people with weapons. Sometimes you encounter people whose only response to your outrage against their brutality is a coldly pragmatic question "So what are you going to do about it?" Now I don't like fights, confrontation, or unpleasantness. But there are times when they are not only unavoidable, they are the right thing to do.

Somehow, post 1960s the Black community has become over invested in non-violence instead of resistance. We have so-called leaders who are afraid to stand up for Black  concerns. I don't care about why someone is having a bad day. I don't care about why they are racist. I am not interested into looking into their soul. I just want them to refrain from assaulting or killing me. But because police know that there is no cost to their racist behavior, they will continue it. And because the Black community as currently structured has little to no stomach for the physical confrontations needed to stop these chronic police assaults, we'll continue to see them. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

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