Monday, 18 July 2016 14:30
Baton Rouge police killings warrants end to protests
Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

montrell jacksonIf Baton Rougeans can find any solace in the senseless murders of Officers Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald and Deputy Brad Garafola, it didn’t spring from the city’s loins. What else is known provides guidance so that the city can move beyond simmering tensions left from the event that apparently precipitated this heinous crime, the death of Alton Sterling at the hands of Baton Rouge police.

A federal government investigation will determine whether the shooting of Sterling, a black man, came as a result of police negligence or misconduct. On the surface, it would seem the white officers involved, having to make a quick judgment in a matter of seconds in chaotic conditions, very well may have felt a legitimate threat to their lives that led to the fatal decision to use deadly force. Sterling was a career criminal engaged in a criminal enterprise and known to have an illegal gun when police approached him; also having had a recent arrest for possession of drugs, he may have been in an impaired state at that time and not using good sense by not following police orders and then struggling even after having a Taser used upon him.

But having a record and acting illegally doesn’t deserve getting killed. The events as understood by some in the community, particularly among blacks, pointed to insufficient provocation to justify lethal force. The investigation will sort this out, mistake or accident, but almost certainly will not proffer a third option: the white officers killed a black man because of some deep-seated, if not recognizable on the surface, racial animosity.

That race-based motive, regrettably, by contrast seems the exact precipitant of the death of the law enforcement officers yesterday. The shooter, Gavin Eugene Long, a black from Kansas City most recently but prior military, apparently lured them into an ambush and opened fire. In the weeks prior to his carnage, he had expressed through various media anti-government sentiments focused on the belief that authorities oppressed minorities and that violent counteraction to the Sterling shooting, among others, against police was appropriate. In other words, his intervention culminated the worst fears: that the protests that ensued from the Sterling shooting, all too often featuring rhetoric condemning an authoritarian state waging war on blacks, motivated a racist nutjob like this (who among his victims included a black man, Jackson) to act with deadly implications.

Of course, most of the organized protesting advocated addressing the problems they alleged through peaceful political means. But some tolerated discourse that presumed the state apparatus waged some kind of war on blacks, even as the data show police do not use deadly force against blacks more often than whites. Others that descended on the city like a plague even called for overthrow of the government by any means possible. Such actions only threw fuel on a fire that drew in the likes of Long.

Many politicians stayed away from using or endorsing such language. For example, even as Gov. John Bel Edwards expressed skepticism at the rectitude of police actions, when after the Sterling incident he called for more law enforcement training and said he had “serious concerns” about the occurrence, he did not lapse into implying the perpetration of state-sponsored oppression of blacks. But, unfortunately, a few others did or made appearances at protests in a way that lent credibility to that absurd view, and despite their nonviolent intentions this could do nothing to discourage the Longs of the world from bringing violence to Baton Rouge.

Simply, the time to protest has ended. We know many in the black community are wary of the police, but to progress in smoothing out relations only will occur after discovering the truth of the Sterling event, to know how to proceed with that data in hand. Nothing more constructive can come from more protests, and these when politicized pose a risk of attracting more of the unhinged. Likewise, the use of Sterling’s death by special interests and policy-makers to achieve political purposes more likely will prove counterproductive to needed progress , as it essentially has been from the start. An approach such as Mayor-Pres. Kip Holden’s, which acknowledged the tragedy and promised changes if needed then stayed out of the limelight on this issue, foolishly derided by some, in retrospect has turned out as the wisest course of action.

At the same time, whether police actions caused any mistrust among minorities in Baton Rouge, authorities should adopt techniques to reduce what seems evidently present. As noted by mayoral candidate and state Rep. Denise Marcelle, who otherwise inadvertently yet irresponsibly ratcheted up tensions as a fellow traveler with the more radical elements, many imported, slinging accusations at demonstrations, with better community relations maybe officers on the scene would have had a better idea of Sterling’s temperament and have been able successfully to defuse that situation.

That a sick outsider committed this horrible crime and it was not homegrown shows undiminished capacity of Baton Rouge’s people as a resource for positive change in the city. A worldview of a state war against minorities contrary to reality should be disavowed by all concerned, for it supports a radical agenda incompatible with the best interests of Baton Rougeans. Yet policy-makers must not ignore all other realistic concerns and must set to work in identifying and tackling these. As long as that does not occur, the environment remains ripe for those intent on mayhem to further their interests in exactly that way.

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

Login to post comments
  • A July 4th Fact of Facts: America is Land of Immigrants
  • Poll: Trump strong on jobs, weak on tweets, viewed as reckless, thin-skinned, sexist
  • President Trump, It doesn't feel like Independence Day
  • YIPPIE! The naked truth about free speech, cherished especially on Independence Day

mass2On July 4, 1778, George Washington doubled liquor rations for the soldiers quartered in Princeton, NJ, as a way to celebrate Independence Day. It’s fitting, therefore, that the Fourth of July is America's top-selling beer holiday, according to the Beer Institute. It estimated, in 2013, that sales of beer on the 4th could total $1 billion, doubtlessly higher today. “In moderation,” claims a CA brewery investor, Grover McKean, “beer is tasty and healthy.” Who could disagree?

Read More

joe mikaAs Donald Trump faces the top world leaders this week, including a face-time with Vladimir Putin, and as his healthcare proposals face an uphill climb, his poll numbers for how the nation views him could be better.

According to a morning Consult/Politico poll released Wednesday morning, his tweets, including that against MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski, and his personality are not helping him, at all.

Read More

indy dayII know the calendar says we are approaching the 4th of July, but, it just doesn’t feel like Independence Day.

Perhaps it should.  It’s hot as heck.  The airlines have been packed. The hot dogs are ready for grilling.  The umps are saying, "play ball". The patriotic activities are scheduled. The fireworks are ready-for-blasting. 

Yet, it just doesn’t feel like independence day.

Read More

bill rights2To President Thomas Jefferson, July 4th celebrated more than the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He thought it was a link to the future. The message prominent colonists sent to King George III led to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the initial and most prominent feature of which is the First Amendment that guarantees free speech. It’s part of the country’s fundamental essence that each man and woman can say what they feel about government, or anything else, proving President Donald Trump needs some civics lessons.

Read More

BB Menu


Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1