Tuesday, April 07, 2015

The Murder of Walter Scott

Here we go again.

In this April 4, 2015, frame from video provided by Attorney L. Chris Stewart representing the family of Walter Lamer Scott, Scott appears to be running away from City Patrolman Michael Thomas Slager, right, in North Charleston, S.C. Slager was charged with murder Tuesday, hours after law enforcement officials viewed the dramatic video that appears to show Slager shooting a fleeing Scott several times in the back. (AP Photo/Courtesy of L. Chris Stewart)

Walter Lamar Scott was murdered in North Charleston, South Carolina, by white cop Michael T. Slager. Slager had pulled Scott over for a traffic violation, a broken tail-light, and when Scott fled, Slager initially tried to Taser him.

When that failed, Slager shot Scott dead, in cold blood, in the back, eight times. 

For a traffic stop. A traffic stop. A traffic stop.

Scott was not armed. Scott was not armed. Walter Scott. Was. Not. Armed.

Slager then apparently handcuffed the corpse of the man he had just killed and attempted to plant his Taser on him, with the apparent assistance of a fellow cop, a black man. Despite his attempted cover-up, a now-surfaced video belies it.

Unlike many cops in his position, he has been fired, and is being charged--though whether he will be prosecuted and convicted remains to be seen--with murder.

Again and again and again this keeps happening, because even though we repeat that "Black Lives Matter," in reality in this country, in this society, on this globe, what we see is that they do not.

As Jason Parham notes on Gawker, last month alone, 36 black people were killed by police, or roughly one every 21 hours. This approximates a slow and almost shameless form of genocide.

More Black Americans were killed by cops in 2014 than the total number of black people who died in the 9/11 attacks.

Like Parham I want to write something more thoughtful, more insightful, something illuminating, but I am exhausted. I really am. I have lived this reality all of my life, now approach 50 years. The foreground changes but the backdrop of racism, white supremacy, black disposability and social death, and state violence allied to elite social and economic interests are the same. Yes, things have improved, always as a result of sustained struggle, since I was a child, and they continue to improve, but we still have a long way to go.

These state murders are occurring as this country warehouses vast numbers of black and brown people in prisons, many of them privatized and providing cheap labor for corporations and earning dividends for investors. Countless black and brown people--children, adolescents, women, men--cycle through the failed penal system and its prison industrial complex annex, sometimes as a prelude to be murdered, at some point in their lives and usually with impunity, by the state, which does everything to protect elite interests, global corporations, and the billionaires who are destroying this country piece by piece.

It has to end. It MUST END.

No amount of telling black people how to behave, whether around officers or otherwise, no amount of "diversity training," no amount of explaining away the disparate ways that black americans (and brown americans who are treated like black americans by this system) are treated by the law and its officers, no amount of appeals to "black on black violence," divorced from the larger social context or not, no rationalizing away or ignoring all the ways in which black people in this society pay extensive social, political and economic taxes just for being black, is going to do it.

What has to happen is that cops have to stop killing unarmed black americans, and when they do they have to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Cops have to stop serving as the shock troops of white supremacy, neo-colonialism, the plutonomy and global capitalism. THEY MUST STOP KILLING US. What has to happen is that the entire foundation and edifice upon which this society has been built and developed has to be addressed, rethought, and remade. This is not an interpersonal issue. It is a systemic and structural problem. And it has to be addressed and redressed.


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