My dear friend Tom Schade posted the following on Twitter a few hours ago:
As has been happening a lot recently, I disagree strongly with Tom because the evidence from the last 9 months does not go in that direction.
When news first came out about Eric Garner’s death, the police story was taken at face value, even though witnesses were saying that it was wrong. The only reason that changed is because Ramsey Orta’s video of the encounter was released.
The original police story that John Crawford was waving a gun around the Beavercreek Wal-Mart was taken at face value until the video showed that no such thing was going on.
Tamir Rice was supposedly pointing a gun at everybody who was around him at the rec center in Cleveland. Video shows that Tamir was by himself in an empty section of the grounds and never pointed that toy gun at an actual live human being.
And the police story in the Walter Scott case was that he went for the officer’s taser and that there was a struggle. The video shows that this is not what was happening.
So it’s time to be honest my white friends…y’all don’t believe black people about what happens in our encounters with law enforcement unless we have video to back it up. And sometimes not even then; lest we forget the case of Kajime Powell. It should also be noted here that in the cases where black women are mistreated and/or killed by members of law enforcement, nothing happens to those officers, whether it’s on video or no.
And even when there is video, too often you look for any movement we make or words we say to justify law enforcement overreaction.
There is an assumption in most white communities that the police don’t lie about their encounters with the public. Communities of color (and poor communities) know that lie for what it is.
Without the videotape in the Walter Scott case, there may have been an investigation into the officer’s actions. That we can attribute to the protests that have followed the killing of Michael Brown. But without that videotape, there is no way that officer would now be charged with murder.