A police shooting after an officer is allegedly dragged by car in Seattle has everything to do with skin color.
June 2, 2001 1:15 PM   Subscribe

A police shooting after an officer is allegedly dragged by car in Seattle has everything to do with skin color. While the black on white violence and subsequent murder of the recent Mardi Gras "riots", wasn't race related, but merely youthful angst. Now I'm as liberal as they come and believe the police here have sometimes blown it, which is another discussion. But, I have a feeling these protestors, know exactly as much as I do about the unfortunate shooting in ostensible self defense. Nothing.
posted by crasspastor (24 comments total)
This happens in Detroit every day.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 2:32 PM on June 2, 2001

I don't doubt this happens everywhere. I was alluding to the hair trigger response of certain communities to hastily label any death of a minority a hate crime or police racism. Underscoring that, I included a link of the exact reverse phenomenon and how quickly the prevailing media and community leaders shuffle the idea that "racial tension" as cause of violence under the carpet. It's a profound double standard and I would like to hear what others here have to say about it.
posted by crasspastor at 2:45 PM on June 2, 2001


death of a minority in white hands a hate crime. . .
posted by crasspastor at 2:46 PM on June 2, 2001

gunz and fun...bob got a Beretta .22. O.K. do we Michigan kidz have to have 32% of ALL the zany schemes?(zanyshemes.com?) someone needs to go over to Bills office, have him pony up some mini cams and a great software package and strap them little iris's right unto Mr. shiny blue with a Glock....they have guns, will a camera frighten your civil rights...get Moore on the horn...have a on?off feature...oh you guys work it out, we need a prototype Friday or you can camp in till sunday...get Deloren on the horn, we need a poster boy.
posted by clavdivs at 2:49 PM on June 2, 2001

OK. Let me see if I've got this straight.

Drag one cop around as he hangs from your car in your attempts to kill him (running him over, scrape him against other cars etc.). When you fail and the cop's partner saves his life by shooting the guy trying to kill the cop, the driver's friends can rationalize the whole thing by crying "racial motivation" based upon the simple fact of a difference in race.


Do I have that right?
posted by Spanktacular at 3:37 PM on June 2, 2001

Whoohooo, 12 year old drags a cop, 12 year old dead, cop dead. Race? ...dunno
posted by tomplus2 at 3:41 PM on June 2, 2001

>It's a profound double standard and I would like to hear what others here have to say about it.<

the difference is that one is coming from the community, and the other is coming from officials. city officials simply don't want to promote the idea that there is racially motivated violence of *any* kind in their city. likewise, the press won't report it unless someone says it.

add to this the fact that Seattle is populated with a million dyed-in-the-wool white "progressives" and you're never going to hear it. they feel the black man's pain, they're hip to it all, and they want to believe that that kind of thing can't happen their city.

it's just a hard situation. if there weren't so much inequity between blacks and whites in the first place, it would be easy to call bullshit on questionable claims of racism. as it is, no one dare say anything 1) for fear of being called racist and 2) because whether it's true in this particular case or not, everyone knows it *is* true about some case somewhere.

white guilt isn't based on an imaginary circumstance; it's based on a real history, and a sense that that history may not be so much in the past as we'd all like to believe.

the end result is the same as it ever was: blacks and whites don't have the honest conversations about race and America that they need to have in order to fix things.

[OT: here's a great article from the NY Times series "How race is lived in America". Reaping What was Sown on the Old Plantation. Notice that, although both mean to do it, neither the black woman nor the white woman in the piece ever get around to walking over and talking to each other about the hard things they disagree about. (NY Times: rebeccas_pocket, password: pocket)]

posted by rebeccablood at 4:04 PM on June 2, 2001

I agree with Spanktacular. Guy gets shot after attempting to injure or kill a police officer. Big surprise. File this one under 'no brainer.'
posted by fleener at 7:24 PM on June 2, 2001

That NYT link didn't work for me, but this one did.

From what I saw at the Mardis Gras mess it was pretty random. Thugs came in for some ultra-violence. Were most of the ones starting things black? Yeah, but a thug is a thug. I believe the guy I saw with the chain was white and so was the asshole that drove through the crowd.

The idea of reparations and how one should feel about what their ancestors did I find interesting as well.

I always thought a crime is a crime. The motivation is always bad. I like to be generous with my hate. Why limit yourself to one race?
posted by john at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2001

The fact remains that anti-black racism is ubiquitous and systematic in the United States today; regardless of whether every individual incident involving a white cop killing a black person is a result of this directly.

Seattle in particular is an extremely racist and segregated city, which is made only worse by the official denial that racism exists here, and the smug look-how-progressive-we-are feeling that most white Seattleites have.

It is obscene to equate black-on-white violence, such as happened in Seattle during Mardi Gras, with white-on-black violence, such as happened in this police killing yesterday, for the same reason it would be obscene to equate a Jewish attack on German Nazis in 1944 with the existence of Nazi concentration camps.
posted by Rebis at 8:55 PM on June 2, 2001

Can we just forget that last sentence?
posted by john at 10:01 PM on June 2, 2001

Rebecca: blacks and whites don't have the honest conversations about race and America that they need to have in order to fix things.

It's also true that whites don't have the honest conversations about race and American that they need to have in order to fix things. Perhaps it would be a place to start?

Rebis: It has also been my experience that Seattle is deeply racist. I have not spoken with anyone else who has seen this. My wife and I toured the country two years ago and of the metropolitan areas we visited, Seattle was by far the most hostile to our presence. When all someone has to go on is your appearance, do you afford them the benefit of the doubt?

crasspastor: perhaps the difference is that the protestors you consider are at high risk of being the victim of an "unfortunate shooting," one that will quite likely remain uninvestigated, and one that will, if the shooter is white (but not White Trash) or otherwise powerful, not result in the conviction of the guilty party.
posted by sudama at 11:30 PM on June 2, 2001

Here's something...
This is the age, after all, of "whiteness studies," according to which some groups that we usually regard as white--say, the Italians and the Irish--may be regarded historically as if they were black, because they once occupied the bottom of the social scale. In such an analysis, "whiteness" is not a biological characteristic, it is a socially constructed category that serves the powerful as an instrument for maintaining their power, and also as a way for whites to maintain their distance from non-whites.
But...(in reference to DiMaggio)
If being a graceful ballplayer can turn someone into an Anglo-Saxon, then "race" hardly matters at all. Why, then, elevate race into the explanation for nearly everything that happens in America?
Is race a catch-22 issue in the US? We can't ignore it, but our efforts to stamp it out cause more problems. Ack!
posted by john at 11:31 PM on June 2, 2001

> I was alluding to the hair trigger response of certain
> communities to hastily label any death of a minority a
> hate crime or police racism.

I knew that. Its just that we are sort of used to that sort of thing around these parts. Didn't mean to dilute your message at all.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 12:48 AM on June 3, 2001

"The Seattle P.D. is treating the C.D. (Central District) like a zoo, and they kill us any time they want, because they're the zookeepers," said Eric Patrick, 31, a friend of Roberts and a lifelong neighborhood resident. "This time the community needs to stand up and do something."

I live mere blocks from the "CD" and have friends who live there. The "CD" is like anywhere else. Had it happened in Bellevue, the same still would have happened--somebody would've been shot. If there was really an issue to protest, why not join the cause for all humanity? This is pure reverse racism.

Some people can get away with it.
posted by crasspastor at 3:35 AM on June 3, 2001

Okay. . .had it happened in Bellevue it would have been worse. Why'd I use that example?
posted by crasspastor at 3:40 AM on June 3, 2001

John, I'm somewhat puzzled by the rhetorical tone taken in that link. How is it somehow ahistoric to say that the Irish were once lumped in with African-Americans? "No Blacks No Dogs No Irish" has fallen into the common parlance enough that Johnny Rotten used a minor variation as his autobiography title. How is it somehow ahistoric to say that one of the reasons for DiMaggio's success was that he was perceived as acting less like a stereotypical Italian immigrant -- he was a "credit to his race" who didn't talk with his hands? In particular, how is it ahistoric to say that one of the reasons for DiMaggio's success is that, by the postwar period, a rethinking of "whiteness" that included Irish and Italian Catholics as well as Southern and Eastern Europeans (but that excluded, say, Mexicans or Puerto Ricans as well as African-Americans) was being concluded?

I haven't read the book in question. It sound pretty dire, but there's clearly a bias in the review against Gerstle's attention to race in American culture, and I don't know that the reviewer made his case that well.
posted by snarkout at 10:10 AM on June 3, 2001


Yes, the logic extrapolates in a twisted manner. The author's attempt to make some point is given myopic treatment for his myopia.
posted by john at 1:48 PM on June 3, 2001

Dean_Paxton, one of your links was a story in Lebanon, TN. No fair skewing the numbers.

Remember the Rodney King riots after the aquittal? Mayor Coleman Young actually went on TV and praised the African Americans in Detroit for not rioting. As if it were somehow to be expected. Isn't that racist in and of itself, inferring that Blacks are predisposed to violence?

I also remember the Fireworks Beatings....when six African-American girls started stomping on and beating up a White woman at the July4th fireworks display downtown. The incident was caught on videotape. Mayor Young himself got involved in the case, personally interviewing witnesses, and determined that after the victim (JoAnne Was) had initially had a gold chain snatched from around her neck, muttered the "N" word. That's when the beating began. Hizzoner went on to say that he didn't blame the girls for attacking, that he would've done the same thing.

Of course, the Malice Green killing was racist; the JoAnne Was attack was not...it was deserved.
posted by Oriole Adams at 5:42 PM on June 3, 2001

sudama: whites having conversations about race in america might be a *small* start, but ultimately all races need to talk to each other; most whites don't know how people of other races live, period. they don't know what is happening that seems like racism to non-whites. and talking to each other isn't going to elucidate that.

as for seattle: can you give me an example of the racism you experienced there? I ask because I just moved from there, and while I'd describe it as *white* I wouldn't describe it as *racist* (of course, I'm white.)

it is *unfriendly*, I'd say. at least, it's hard to meet people there (and people I've known who have moved from other places where they had no trouble meeting people have said that to me over and over.)

posted by rebeccablood at 5:54 PM on June 3, 2001

I'd also be willing to admit that blacks can be as (if not more) racist as whites, the only difference being they're not in positions of power...
posted by owillis at 6:16 PM on June 3, 2001

and that right there is my personal delineation between prejudice and racism:

prejudice is what you think to yourself and racism is what you do.

so the minute decisions based on prejudice are implemented in institutions, for example, it instantly becomes racism. no matter how small or benign the prejudice itself is. it starts to affect somebody else.

posted by rebeccablood at 6:30 PM on June 3, 2001

As a Seattle native (and white, for what it matters), I was recently horrified by a trip to visit family in Tennessee. As I watched muscle cars emblazoned with confederate flags drive by, listening to old folks gripe about "all them Negroes on welfare," and read about racial graffiti in small farming communities, I asked my father why anyone black would stay there.

"I've had southern friends swear that the Northwest is just as racist as the South, but at least down here folks don't hide behind their claims of politically correctness."

We Seattleites do work hard to maintain our air of progressiveness...I had a friend who was once accused of racism for saying "I renege that comment" in a college classroom.

“Are you saying ‘re-African American’?” a classmate spat. Ridiculous, yes. But indicative of just how far we go to try to keep our hands (and consciences) clean in Seattle.
posted by arielmeadow at 8:45 PM on June 4, 2001

Whoohooo, 12 year old drags a cop, 12 year old dead, cop dead. Race? ...dunno

Officer Crayon did draw his gun right? Horrible horrible horrible. . .
posted by crasspastor at 9:58 PM on June 5, 2001

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