Friday, July 9, 2010

American Legacy: The Extrajudicial Killing of Unarmed Peoples by the State

One could write a tome on America, race, guns, and justice.  But here, a tome is unnecessary.  These are simple things, really.

Today, in Los Angeles, a jury convicted BART officer Johannes Merhserle of involuntary manslaughter.  Last year, Merhserle shot and killed an unarmed, already subdued black man in the back.  While Oscar Grant lay prostrate on his stomach, with another cop's knee on his neck, Merh tserle drew his pistol, and shot Grant in the back at point blank range.  Grant died in the hospital hours later.  

The death of unarmed civilians at the hands of trigger-happy police officers has become tragically routine.  

In the past year alone, the pages of newspapers around the country are plastered with the same sad story.  

Aaron M. Campbell, shot and killed by police officers in Portland, Oregon.  Unarmed.  While surrendering to police, walking backwards, hands in the air, police opened fire on Campbell with bean-bag rounds.  After being repeatedly struck in the back, Campell reached down to clutch his lower back.  The police officer on the scene immediately opened fire.  In 2007, that same officer was reprimanded for tasering a citizen journalist who was standing in his own front yard, recording the officer's activities.

Steven Eugene Washington was shot and killed by LAPD in March.  When police approached Washington for "looking suspicious", he approached them and - they say - appeared to reach for something around his waistband.  The cops immediately opened fire, striking him in the head.  He died instantly.  Steven was autistic and, his family said, afraid of stranges.  He was unarmed.  

In Virginia, a cop shot and killed David Masters during a routine traffic stop.  He was a retired Army Green Beret.  And he was unarmed. There's dash camera footage of the incident, but the Fairfax police refuse to release that footage to the media.  In fact, they refuse to say anything about the execution of David Masters:

The man who was shot and killed by a Fairfax County police officer Friday did not have a gun, police acknowledged Wednesday, and police again declined to say why the officer fired on the man.

The beat marches on.

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