Thursday, January 29, 2004

A Police Killing in Brooklyn

It is rough being black. We often kill one another for little or no reason, but we also live with the threat of being killed by cops. Timothy Stansbury was a young man enjoying himself at a party in the Louis Armstrong houses. He and two friends made the seemingly simple decision to go home and get more music. They used a rooftop shortcut to return to the festivities and Stansbury died as a result.

Two New York City Housing Police officers were on patrol when the young men reached the top of the stairs leading to the roof. Officer Richard Neri shot and killed Stansbury when the door to the roof opened. It is not clear who opened the door, but it is not in dispute that Timothy Stansbury should still be alive.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly immediately declared that the shooting was unjustified. They are getting a lot more credit than they deserve for making this common sense assessment, a result of the bitter legacy left by Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani responded to the police killing of another black New Yorker, Patrick Dorismond, by releasing details of Dorismond's juvenile police record. He came pretty close to saying that Dorismond deserved to be killed. The memory of Rudy gives Bloomberg a pass. He is often praised because he isn't as bad as Giuliani, which is damning with faint praise if I ever heard it.

Of course, the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association is defending Neri and condemning Bloomberg and Kelly. According to the police union every shooting is justified. I suggest we make it easier for police and wear big bulls eyes on our clothes. We can then dispense with the formality of investigations. Police are rarely convicted when they kill innocent people anyway. The Brooklyn DA says he will seek an indictment, but here in New York cops usually choose trial before judges instead of juries. Why take a chance with the people wearing bulls eyes? Judges almost always find cops innocent and in the rare instance when they are found guilty the sentences are very light.

We are left with the usual scenario of police killings. Families mourn, the community demonstrates, and the cop goes free and eventually gets his job back. The least we can do is be honest. The system is set up to allow this sort of situation to continue because black life is devalued. Neri is like the average American, living in fear and/or hatred of black males. He fired his weapon for the simple reason that he saw a brown face on the other side of a door.

Black cops manage to patrol the streets and even disarm dangerous suspects without killing anyone, which brings me to another suggestion. Fire all the white cops. If our neighborhoods weren't patrolled by those who fear the people they are supposed to protect, Timothy Stansbury wouldn't be dead because he wanted extra CDs for a party.

You Don't Need No Stinkin' Job

It isn't important that millions of Americans are out of work. The august and very liberal Washington Post says so. In a January 27th editorial the Post said that a jobless recovery is no biggie. It certainly isn't if you are an already employed, dopey, inside the beltway lazy journalist. Read and weep.

"But the bigger question is whether jobless recoveries are a bad thing. They are, after all, the flip side of good news. There is less cyclical unemployment these days, so recessions are milder; fewer jobs are being created now because fewer jobs were destroyed during the downturn. Moreover, a jobless recovery means, by definition, that each worker is producing more. Higher productivity, in turn, is the best promise possible of higher wages and employment in the future."

Earth to Washington Post, Americans work their butts off. We are the most productive workers in the industrialized world but we get less time off than any workers in the industrialized world. By the way, our wages do not go up when our bosses make more money. When our bosses make more money they just ship jobs, blue and white collar, overseas.

The right wing have won. Even the "liberal" press agitates for greater corporate power at the expense of working people. The only thing left do do is work in Wal-Mart for minimum wages and in return get locked in at night. If the Washington Post has it way that is where we are all headed.