Sandra Bland died, according to former cop and CNN contributor Harry Houck, because she was “arrogant from the beginning.” Whether police did or did not murder Bland while she was in custody, there’s no question that she was only in custody because she failed to show the arresting officer the kind of deference he expected–he gave her orders, and when she did not comply, he used his power to bully her.
This is in line with the philosophy Los Angeles police officer Sunil Dutta shared with the Washington Post just after Mike Brown was murdered:
Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me.
In November I posted a comic about how police hold themselves to the same standard as grizzly bears. That’s still the case, sadly, but police are also are adopting the philosophy of the criminals they are supposed to stop: “I have the gun, so obey me or die.”
A few years ago, when I was still living in Philly, I slept most weekends at my parents’ house, visiting friends around the town where I grew up. I’d get home Friday evening and find my mom and dad tuned in to Blue Bloods a new CBS show starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg as members of a multi-generational family of white New York City cops.
While I never watched an episode from beginning to end, it didn’t take long to pick up on the show’s dynamic: The heroes, white male police officers, spent each episode protecting society from criminals, who were almost always minorities. Not only that, but they were played by actors cast according to the most stereotypical ethnicity for their crime. Car thieves were invariably black or Latino; a mugger, drug dealer, or liquor store robber would be black; chop-shop owners might be Asian or Mexican. Continue Reading