BLM: Still Mattering

April 16, 2021

The “accidental” execution of Daunte Wright publicly magnified yet once again the culture of police work in the United States. If an opportunity to use force that far exceeds any necessity to do so presents itself to a police officer, then police immediately will resort to a default position in which excessive force becomes an automatic response.

Daunte Wright appears to have resisted arrest. Obviously, not a smart move on his part, even if he had simply been allowed to drive off unimpeded. Eventually, things would have sorted out, and not in his favor. However, what would have been the outcome if he had simply been allowed to drive off, with officers taking down notes regarding the encounter?

Would Wright have driven off and then done something that would have harmed another person? Not likely. It is true that he was accused of being part of a home invasion robbery in 2019, but what evidence is there that he was a present or near future danger to the community?

None whatsoever. Yeah, he was driving a car with expired license tags and an air-freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror. Remind me to start shaking in my boots.

“So you’re saying, Bill, that someone should just be allowed to flout the authority of the police?”

I am not saying that. I am saying that we need a system in which situations such as this are subject to a process involving mediated negotiation. I am talking about a social structure that will cost a considerable amount of money, time, and patience, although quite frankly it would be much less than the amount of money that will be paid out to settle the wrongful death suit filed on behalf of Daunte Wright’s two-year-old son.

To take another person’s live when that person is not posing a threat to your life or someone else’s life is a matter of criminal behavior. Resisting arrest is a crime. It is not a crime that entitles a police officer to be judge, jury, and executioner. Until police officers and the culture they uphold realize that they will be tried, convicted and serve prison terms for killing someone in this manner, then there can be little doubt that there will be yet another such incident before this year is out, and yet another, and yet another, and yet another.

I gather from recent polls that the outrage about George Floyd’s death is subsiding in white communities. Perhaps people feel that the trial of Chauvin suffices to address this matter. The problem, however, is one of psychological taxation. Many people are upset that Trump, for instance, has paid so little income tax. What many of them don’t realize is that people of color in the United States pay an enormous psychological tax just to live their daily lives. How else to describe what it must be like to be a U.S. Army lieutenant and to be pulled over for the “crime” of driving your newly purchased car?

Where is the national outrage over this incident?

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I wish I could devote myself entire to writing about poetry. What would it mean, though, if I were to remain silent instead of continuing to speak out and demand major reallocations of our social wealth on behalf of all the residents in our country, including those who seek refuge here as a result of decades of mayhem caused by this nation’s foreign policy. The links between domestic policy and foreign policy deserve our scrutiny, but that is a matter for another post.

In the meantime, for those of you who dropped in on my blog and want commentary on poetry, I would direct you to my review of WICKED ENCHANTMENT by Wanda Coleman, which appeared almost a year ago in my blog (April 28, 2020).

“Wicked Enchantment”: Wanda Coleman’s Selected Poems

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