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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/24/16

It's Actually Much Worse Than Kaepernick Says It Is

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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick greets fans. His recent protests have garnered accolades from community leaders.
49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick greets fans. His recent protests have garnered accolades from community leaders.
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The onslaught of police violence in America is actually far worse than Colin Kaepernick and his growing group of player supporters may realize.

Kaepernick and, before him, NBA stars like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Michael Jordan -- in addition to, more recently, the entire WNBA Indiana Fever women's basketball team and countless other WNBA players on several teams -- have done a remarkable and historic job of forcing public debate on the issue of police violence.

Far from overstating the scope of the problem, these young men and women often struggle to put into perspective how big and pervasive the problem really is.

According to The Guardian UK's ongoing count, U.S. police have already killed 790 people this year alone, as of this writing. Last year the total number exceeded 1,200. Yes, absolutely, African Americans are killed in disproportionate numbers. But the killing is by no means limited to blacks. Native Americans are in fact the hardest hit proportionally, according to the Guardian's analysis. Blacks are second, based on a per capita breakdown. In terms of total numbers, the largest category is whites: 387 so far this year.

However, the statistics do little to convey the historic magnitude of the killing. These numbers are totally unprecedented. Nothing like this is happening anywhere else in the world.

The video depicting police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stalking and killing unarmed Terence Crutcher has been called shocking, disturbing, unacceptable, and many other things. It is also a stark illustration of how police training creates the conditions for often-unjustified use of lethal force.

Watching half a dozen police officers with guns drawn and aimed stalk an unarmed man with his hands raised across a parking lot, ultimately shooting and killing him, the rational mind screams, "Why?!" It's the training, you see.

Right now the spotlight of public attention in the Crutcher killing is focused on Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. But Tulsa police trainers and policy makers should be under scrutiny as well. Shelby, a white, former convenience store clerk and the other officers with her as they confronted Terence Crutcher were acting largely on their training.

The military-inspired, lethal-weapons-at-the-forefront, physically confrontational way of interacting with their subject was all scripted by senior training officials. The trainers are just as guilty as the shooters, in Tulsa as in most of the police-involved use of lethal force incidents across the country. Yes, the police officers see this as acceptable conduct. It's what they are trained to do.

In effect, Terence Crutcher was killed for not following commands to the satisfaction of the police officers confronting him. That is a common thread in many of the shooting incidents cited in the Guardian study. In the minds of police officers, police trainers, departments, and government officials all the way up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, this has become an acceptable rationale for what amounts to extrajudicial summary execution. The problem is huge and systemic.

For their part, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues to launch federal investigations but has yet to file charges in any U.S. police killing. There is no indication at this point that the Justice Department will ever act on a police killing on President Obama's watch. Regardless of the circumstances.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News:

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