I’m way late on this, I realize, but the blame for the 3.18 death of Stephon Clark is squarely on the two Sacramento cops who fired 20 shots at the poor guy. Clark was hit with eight slugs, six in the back. Once again, a city howls in rage over a police force that seems all too willing to shoot to kill when there’s a black suspect who seems to be carrying something. Clearly a terrible, tragic situation. And it seems to keep happening.
That said, can I ask a typical-white-guy question? If you look at the video Clark is obviously acting like a guy who doesn’t want to be apprehended, and so he’s running away and hopping over a fence and scampering around. Why is he running? We all know that your average big-city cop is more than willing to shoot first and ask questions later, so why would a young black male try to outrun the law when the cops are near with guns drawn? Because he’s thinks he’s Jason Bourne and he can somehow get away, right? But we all know how these situations have often turned out. It’s horrible and malicious, but that’s how cops are so where’s the sense in running for it? I would drop to my knees and put my hands behind my head…period. No cell phone, no TV remote, no nothin’.
Posted on 8.14.14, during the Ferguson riots: “Leaving aside the present ugliness, no one should misunderstand a simple fact about cops, which is that they deal with the worst aspects of human nature 24/7 and that the only way to deal with them when they’re angry and barking some kind of order is to chill and obey. Don’t run or argue or flip the bird or jump a fence. Just give in and mildly submit and that’ll be the end of it. The key is to make them feel placated so they’ll move on. You will always make it worse if you run or give them any kind of shit. Some people can’t seem to understand this.”
A guy answered me as follows: “In my opinion, situations like this call for us to be advocates and allies to marginalized people. To listen and empathize, not to tell them what they ought to do, let alone tell them something that they likely already know.
“But again, the reasons they would have for not going ‘why don’t you leave me the fuck alone’ are rooted in something that we can’t relate to. Try and imagine that, no matter what you’re doing, you can be stopped and questioned by a cop. Add to that the fact that you’ve probably been taught that whenever that happens — regardless of why — there is a good chance that you should be in fear of arrest, assault, or even death, no matter how you react. Now spin that across generations and tell me that you – at some point – wouldn’t be able to sit meekly by and acquiesce, knowing that it still likely won’t help you any. Would you guess that at some point, your attitude will change to one of ‘If I have to go down, I’m going down fighting’?
“To me, this is the kind of thinking that needs to be done by people like us to try and understand what it’s like for marginalized people. To shine a light on that and have that be the topic of debate, as opposed to simply offering obvious suggestions for action that are fruitless in the first place.