I posted this on Facebook, and then decided to repost here. I’m deeply upset over the video of what happened in Mckinney, Texas. So I’m talking it out.
I can’t tell you what the context of what happened in McKinney, Texas is. I can show the video and let you see what I can see. But I do have a lot of very mixed reactions to it. I don’t know why the police were called, and I don’t know at what point the filming started. I know that the officer at the center has been put on leave. I know there’s going to be an investigation. I have very little faith that the investigation will turn up the truth. I hate to say this, but I don’t trust that the police can police themselves. That bothers me a great deal. I have a lot of respect for the people who go out into the world and put themselves between me and danger. The day to day front lines of that are the police. I admire them. And yet I’m learning to fear them.
And then there’s race. It’s a visceral reaction, but when the cop is kneeling on the girl (who turns out to be 14) all of a sudden I’m put in mind of the days of slavery, when black women were nothing more than livestock. There was something about seeing her mostly naked body, face down, helpless, under the weight of a white man in uniform telling her not to fight, not to struggle or it would go worse for her. I wanted to throw up. At 14, I would have wanted to fight the touch of this strange man. I would have felt attacked. I wouldn’t have been able to think. Instincts would have said fight and scream and escape, no matter what. Find help. Yet there is no help. The other men mill about watching, and her friends can do nothing. This girl has great courage and presence of mind to lay still. Or perhaps she’s got enough wherewithal and sense of self preservation to recognize that this man is dangerous. This man could hurt her. This man could kill her. Not only that, he just might. This man who is paid to protect her.
The story of this event may be quite different from the story that I see. But the story that I see is terrifying. It speaks to a world where authority is dangerous, not protective. Where uniforms are symbolic of menace. Where even the men most semiotically demarcated as guardians, are in actuality demons. Cops are supposed to be dangerous, but they are supposed to be the warriors guarding the people. The warriors seem to be turning against us.
I wonder what cops see when they look at this video. Do they see people who’ve turned against them? I don’t know. This is not an easy situation and I fear that the bad is escalating as both sides see each other as enemies, as they fear one another. Rightly so on too many occasions, as we’ve seen. So here it is. The video.