Readers add further nuance to the viral video we posted:
Thank you for updating your post with the sheriff’s comments. (And since the person in question was originally identified as “light-skinned”, it’s not clear that being black was ever the issue.) Pontiac, Michigan is a city where the County sheriff patrols because there is no longer a local police force. A parent from our kid’s school was shot dead while minding his shop. For awhile, it was normal, driving through Pontiac, to have to sit in one’s car while the car in front of you executed drug deals with people on the street. It is a place that was at one point, quite literally, lawless.
In that video, a shopkeeper, having been robbed more than once before, called the sheriff when something looked suspicious, and the sheriff came. Once there, he was calm and respectful, and did his job responsibly. In Pontiac, that is just absolutely awesome.
Another points to a 2009 incident in which Bob Dylan was similarly stopped by cops and asked for his ID:
Not all neighborhoods like people walking about.
It’s like there’s something wrong with you. Why don’t you have a car? Why are you walking? In the place I grew up – very blue-collar burbs – people simply did not walk. Then I moved to NYC, and since that time I never want to live in a neighborhood where you can’t walk. All people should feel comfortable to walk down the street, hand in pockets or whatever, but the guy in the video was right to note the absurdity of the person who made the call in the first place. At least the guy and the officer were able to discuss it without anything horrible happening.
Another notes a website we’ve featured before:
While I appreciate your sentiment that “more black men need to bring their cell-phones to these police interactions,” you should note that recording police puts the people with the recording devices at risk. There’s a great website called PhotographyIsNotACrime.com that has documented literally hundreds of incidents of police abusing, arresting or assaulting people who have tried to exercise their First Amendment rights to record or photograph the police. If black men started routinely recording interactions with the police, then that would escalate the risk to those black men. Just to pick three stories from the last few days – here, here, and here. (Those are literally the top three non-Ferguson stories from the “recording the police” category as I type.)
Another pans out:
I think we’re missing a drama that accentuated part of the issue over the last few days. I’m a 60-year-old engineer visiting San Antonio on business. Last week, as you may know, a white guy shot up downtown Austin, targeting the Mexican consulate, the US courthouse and the Austin PD building before being killed by police. Today I was having lunch with a coworker who lives in Austin and had been visiting Philly last week. When I mentioned the shooting to him, he hadn’t heard of it, even though he LIVES in Austin.
In the last few years, over a dozen white, right-wing anti-government terrorists have targeted police officers resulting in the deaths of over 10 cops. Yet this is so invisible even people living in Austin don’t know about it. When I mentioned this to a buddy of mine, a white conservative cop, he waved it away saying criminals killed more cops than white terrorists have.
It’s obvious the blinkers are on, EVEN AMONG COPS. Yes, criminals kill cops, but can you imagine the outcry if a dozen cops had been killed by Muslims? The St Louis Police Officer’s Association demands an apology from football players for raising their hands in sympathy with the Brown family, but where is the outrage against the Republican officeholder who said she’d kill government officials who “tried to take away her rights”? Where is the outrage against the NRA that enables military weapons to be openly sold in the US (and they get around this by saying weapons like the AR15 aren’t “military”.)
Cops ARE being targeted by the right. Cliven Bundy was proof. He was a hero until his racism was too strident even for the right. Yet the cops still ignore the threat posed by right-wing terrorism and, instead, shake down black US citizens who walk with their hands in their pockets in the winter.