Living within inner cities my entire life, including growing up in Rochester and graduating from the RCSD, is my relevant experience. As a member of the NYS bar, protecting the vulnerable from state power is my profession. My liberal academic background taught me that discussing these issues with others and trying to understand their experiences is necessary to forming my opinions.
That said, this is really a thought experiment, not a question of fact. Justifying police violence isn't a matter of crime statistics. It's really more about how we value the intrusions into others' lives. RPD doesn't intrude on my life. The entire time I've lived in this city, I've only been approached by an RPD officer once. I was in highschool and having a rowdy house party. They asked me to send everyone home because neighbors were complaining. Then they left.
But that's not everyone's experience. How can we say that a certain frequency of intrusion into someone else's life is justified by OUR safety. Why is it OK for a certain group of people to bear the costs of public safety?
Finally, the "they've got a tough job argument" is completely unhelpful. This is certainly not a discussion about fairness for the people EMPLOYED by RPD. They're paid. They chose to be there. If they're injured, they get paid time off or Workers' Comp benefits. There are many people who are far more deserving of our sympathies and concerns than those gainfully employed by our municipal government.
Thank you for the thoughtful response. I guess the actual frequency of police intervention is something I'm not aware of. It's interesting to hear your experience. I agree that there is good policing in this city and that meeting a police officer with aggression is always a bad choice. I would never do it.
I still question why we assume the necessity for full compliance at all times, and why violence is absolutely justified. That's a different question that I don't think we ask enough.
"I say this especially since the consequences of getting into even a relatively minor scuffle with the police are always severe, as I suppose they should be."
Let's assume, for argument's sake, there is a group of people that is targeted, and comes into frequent contact with the police. For this group, there is a constant threat of police intervention in their lives. Some of that contact inevitably escalates into "minor scuffles".
Set aside for a minute whether there should be frequent police intervention in their lives to begin with. Why is the "severe" response justified? Most people would say: (1) officer safety; and (2) forced compliance with the state. The response must be severe because we can't risk our officers getting hurt and because no matter the circumstances, everyone must yield to police force.
Officer safety is a non-issue. He was not in danger. He had the gun. If Officer Krull disengages- walks away- he would have been much less likely to be harmed.
Clearly, it's all based on the idea that everyone must comply with the police in all circumstances. I get it, from the privileged- from even the majority's point of view- this seems reasonable. But it's reasonable because it's rare. It's not going to happen to YOU. It certainly does not happen to me. For the vast majority of Monroe County, who will have no police confrontation other than the occasional speeding ticket, universal compliance is well accepted.
But for that certain group of people, whose lives are deeply intertwined with the RPD solely based on the color of their skin and the neighborhood they live in, is full compliance ALWAYS reasonable? Their constant contact all but ensures "minor scuffles", which according to you, justifies "severe" consequences. Under this regime, there WILL be "severe consequences" in the lives of the members of this group.
Can you morally justify that outcome?
The privileged class must be humble in its assessment of this case and the important policy implications. Remember that our value judgments are based on our experiences. And we have no monopoly on human experience. Have empathy for Ms. Hardaway,
But really, this isn't so much about police tactics as it is about race. Clearly.
The strong reactions I've seen from this video- some people even seem delighted or satisfied about what happened. Happy to see the white man finally take down the distressed black woman.
If the context and characters were flipped, let's say a black police officer punches a young wealthy pregnant white woman in front of her family and friends on park avenue, and then takes her to the ground. Do you think the reactions would be the same? Of course not, we'd be horrified. I honestly don't even think there would be discussion about whether it was justified.
The real problem here is that much of white Monroe County cannot empathize with poor minorities. So we do not treat them with dignity or compassion. I really hope that changes soon, even if I do not hold out much hope. In the mean time though, in the City of Rochester, we can insist that our police officers treat everyone with respect and compassion. The poor, oppressed minorities, and even progressive white folks, we ARE Rochester. This is OUR city. We can run it however the hell we want, despite the ignorant racist conservatives that make up most of this country and county.
We desire, and can make this change. Chief Sheppard; there's a great place to start. Let's show the police chief that RPD WILL show everyone respect and compassion. Either he comes out with an apology that satisfies, or we'll find someone else who will.
The theme of most responses to this video is essentially: "That's what she gets! You mess with the cops, you get beaten. She should have known"
How about we have a new theme- it's less obviously and more likely to be helpful, "When cops brutalize women, it will cause public outrage and jeopardize their jobs! He should have known." Very similar. Both are simply observations about the status quo and not at all useful in a discussion about policing in our city.
The important question is: "How do we want our city policed?" Should they intervene in extremely emotional situations, like domestic disputes, where they KNOW people may not be able to control themselves. Should they go into those situations and escalate tensions? And once they've done that, should they use VIOLENCE to solve the problem? Is violence and physical force the best public policy for private family problems?
I for one think we can do better.
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