Opinion: I hope the summer of ’17 won’t be a violent one …

Odell Edwards, right, the father of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, wipes away a tear at a press conference about the slaying of his son. Jordan’s mother, Charmaine, looks on. (AP)

The official story out of Balch Springs, Texas last week was that a police officer had been forced to fire into a carload of black teenagers, killing a 15-year-old passenger, because the car was being driven in an “aggressive manner” toward the officer, giving him no choice but to defend himself.

Only after video evidence emerged did police officials alter their story. The new version acknowledges that no officer had been endangered, and that the vehicle had been moving safely away from police when the deadly shot was fired. Commendably, the officer who fired the fatal shot has been discharged and may face criminal prosecution.

The dead teenager was named Jordan Edwards.

“He was everybody’s friend — his attitude and smile, everything was just contagious about him. He was excellent — 3.5 GPA, never in trouble, no attendance issues,” Jordan’s football coach said. “He was a kid that did everything right.”

In Gwinnett County last month, police officers pulled over a black motorist for a traffic stop. After the motorist emerged from his car as ordered, with both hands raised, he was punched in the face. Later, when the motorist lay helpless on the ground, handcuffed, a second officer rushed up and stomped on his head.

According to initial police reports, neither incident happened. Only when cell-phone video evidence emerged did the police story change, forcing the firing of the two officers. To the credit of Gwinnett officials, both have since been charged.

And then of course there’s the infamous, tragic case of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old black man shot down in his tracks by an officer in North Charleston, S.C.

That too was initially explained away as an official case of police self-defense, at least until a citizen video emerged documenting otherwise. Even with that evidence, a South Carolina jury failed to convict the officer, who this week agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge.

In each of those cases, and in too many others, only video evidence allowed the official police version to be challenged, let alone disproved. Without that evidence, valid claims of police brutality and indiscriminate use of deadly violence would have been treated the same way they had been treated for decades — whitewashed, condemned to echo as powerful oral history within the black community while the larger culture ignored them as urban myth.

Even now, only a small percentage of police/citizen interactions are videotaped, ensuring as a matter of mathematics that a lot of these cases continue to occur. For example, one of the officers involved in the Gwinnett brutality case had 67 previous use-of-force incidents on his record, several of which resulted in claims of excessive force. Only the existence of civilian video changed the outcome in the most recent case and got that cop off the street.

Here’s my fear:

Summer is coming on, and with it an increased chance of such encounters. In the past, the U.S. Justice Department has served as a helpful arbiter in calming local outrage and ensuring that a fair investigation is carried out. I’m not sure that it’s capable of playing that role any longer, or even has an interest in doing so.

Instead, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear that he has little sympathy for those concerned about excessive police violence. He has ordered a review of all consent decrees between the Department of Justice and local police departments — decrees reached because the departments had demonstrated, proved problems — with an eye toward freeing those agencies from federal oversight.

“(Such consent decrees) can reduce morale of the police officers,” Sessions explained. “They can push back against being out on the street in a proactive way.”

President Trump, elected in part by a white backlash, has also advocated a more aggressive, less patient approach to protests and civil unrest in the wake of police shootings, accusing groups such as Black Lives Matter of instigating assassinations of police officers.  That combative attitude regarding a very real and serious problem, in an already highly charged political environment, could prove to be an explosive combination in the summer of 2017.

——————–

BTW, here’s a video response to the Gwinnett case posted by Lt. Tim McMillan, an officer in the Garden City, Ga., police department:

Reader Comments 0

1719 comments
Peachs
Peachs

I was starting to get afraid Trump would literally have nothing we could use to run against him in 2018, we keep beating him and he keeps claiming victory! This one will hang on his neck for a long time, and the Republicans.  Handel is Republican...

Paul42
Paul42

tipstotips

"I didn't introduce the topic"  (abortion).

You didn't?  I searched farther down and found you'd posted "And of course left wingers have no compassion for the baby getting their brains sucked out in the birth canal."

Didn't see another reference.  Looks like a topic introduction to me.

So I reiterate, when you introduce abortion into the discussion, you cede the argument.

Paul42
Paul42

@tipstotips @Paul42

Then who did and when?

If you were simply piggybacking off an earlier comment, I'd apologize for misattribution.

But the rule still stands.

tipstotips
tipstotips

@Paul42 @tipstotips I don't remember. Some poster with letters only. And Nick I believe, although he was only responding as was I.

Paul42
Paul42

@rimsky
Really good sheeetz.  Except for the little fact that conservatives haven't dreamed up any alternative facts yet.

rimsky
rimsky

 Democrat Jon Ossoff unveiled his first attack ad of the campaign on Wednesday, casting Republican Karen Handel as a politician who has “run six times for five different offices” who “spends your money on herself.”

The ads invoke her use of a Lexus SUV while she was secretary of state. Handel has said she chose to take a $587-per-month allowance rather than a state car.

+++

Mr VC had some concerns about Ossoff's ads (this morning).  I wonder if he has seen these new ones.

gotalife
gotalife

@rimsky He should start the ads on trumpcare because she is for it. Americans don't care about corruption.

gotalife
gotalife

trumpcare sux.


Those who will lose Obamacare should have voted against it.


Personal responsibility.

gotalife
gotalife

@Peachs @gotalife Yup the dems will run against trumpcare just like the gop did on Obamacare so they get another chance.
 Well played.

Peachs
Peachs

Funniest thing in that Trump CBS Face the Nation interview was Trump leaving the discussion to go study a pile of paperwork.  He looked like he had just walked into a gay bar by mistake.

gotalife
gotalife

Shove your fake religion.


Shove your fake health care bill.


Just shove it all.

Peachs
Peachs

@gotalife man they got a lot of mileage out of the religion thing and then go rogue with Trump, go figure, bunch of fakes.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@gotalife 

Congresspeople who are willing to screw over, or risk screwing over, their own constituents to get the President "a win" are despicable, and those who would vote for them are idiots, who care less for America than for their party. 

In my opinion.

Peachs
Peachs

@Nick_Danger @gotalife and you wonder what Trump gave up to have these people lay it out there.  A lot of these guys won't even run after they see the polls in 2018. 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

td, tell us about the phrase "establishment of religion" as it applied in the mid-1700s, especially in relation to the recent history of England and France. 

I'll wait.

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@rimsky @Nick_Danger 

Not a chance.  ;-)

He claimed, below, that only he knew what the establishment clause really meant.  I'm giving him his chance to prove it.

td1234
td1234

@Nick_Danger So you are saying the British government establish the Church of England as the Church of England had no influence on the Puritans, Quakers, Baptist... who moved out of England to the US for the purpose of Religious freedom and who themselves or their ancestors wrote the clause in the 1st Amendment? 

Nick_Danger
Nick_Danger

@td1234 @Nick_Danger 

We're not talking about what I'M saying, td. 

But are you completely unaware of the religious wars that swept Europe, the effect they had on the monarchies of England and France, and the effect the change in monarchs had on the  religious life in those countries, especially England? 

The Quakers and Puritans played only a very minor role in the reasons for the creation of the Establishment Clause - it was Protestant and Catholic Christians who were the main targets of the clause. 

Also ,wiki "Huguenots" for additional background...

Peachs
Peachs

@td1234 @Nick_Danger you see any Christian that look like these people today.  We got valet parking at a lot of the churches now days. 

Peachs
Peachs

@Nick_Danger you got Henry the 8th who reminds me of Newt the 12th, changing the checker board to suit his sex life.

Peachs
Peachs

@Denise285 would love to hear him and Nixon do a duet of I am not a crook!

rimsky
rimsky

Ever listen to the MLK service in the Church on Auburn Ave? 

+++

What he say TD?

Peachs
Peachs

@rimsky Blacks went their to gain courage against oppression, whites went there to sell insurance.

tipstotips
tipstotips

@Peachs @rimsky Careful Peachs, I know you meant "there". But Hedley will question your intelligence.

rimsky
rimsky

When will the FBI going to LOCK UP the agents leaking info to Rudy?

honested
honested

@rimsky 

I thought they had been given new identities and were hiding out at Mar-A-Lago.

Peachs
Peachs

@rimsky Rudy lite up telling advance news of Clinton, notice Downs spirits were high that week too, lock Downs up he has been leaking for years.

honested
honested

Just heard marsha blackburn interviewed on the "Chumpcare Death Plan" and rest assured, the title of Dimmest Bulb In Congress is still safe.

honested
honested

@rimsky @honested 

She rambled on about how denying healthcare to 24 million people would be good because the "CBO could not provide the proper dynamic scoring".

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

“Do you have evidence that there was in fact collusion between Trump associates and Russia during the campaign?” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked California Sen. Dianne Feinstein during an interview on Wednesday.

“Not at this time,” she responded

rimsky
rimsky

@DownInAlbany You know Comey said it is ongoing.  Poor DIA is grasping at straws.

justaniceguy
justaniceguy

@DownInAlbany We owe it to the American public to investigate this with the same veracity as we investigated email servers... no?

Peachs
Peachs

@DownInAlbany Yates had the phone tapped, testifies Monday, which may be more reason to choke the healthcare down the throats this week.

honested
honested

@Peachs @DownInAlbany 

Well, it will die in the Senate anyways so they get to regale their 'safe vote' that will forever be as meaningless as all the previous 'repeal' votes.