09 January 2009

Meanwhile, in our own "post-racist" society...

I've been watching the aftermath of the BART police officer's murder of a 22 year old man in front of several witnesses (it was a crowded subway platform after all). If you haven't seen the video one witness took, you should check it out (and try to make it through the long segments of off-angle frames of the roof and people's coats).

It took several days for the story to penetrate the national media. That in itself is inexcusable. Have we so lost our moral compass after eight years of the Bush Administration advocating and executing torture, authorizing lawless mercenaries to suppress civilian populations (until they, like Saddam, go too far, or at least get caught going too far), and implementing ever more strict regimes of domestic surveillance that we can't react to this execution-style killing with more indignation?

To date, the largest protest against this chilling cold-blooded murder has itself shown more unfocused discontent and seething rage rather than anything else. The protest started peacefully enough, then turned to vandalism as store fronts and cars were attacked. Many mob participants gleefully destroyed Black-owned businesses, telling the upset business owners they were lucky they only lost their businesses and not their lives:
"I feel like the night is going great," said Nia Sykes, 24, of San Francisco, one of the demonstrators. "I feel like Oakland should make some noise. This is how we need to fight back. It's for the murder of a black male."

Sykes, who is black, had little sympathy for the owner of Creative African Braids.

"She should be glad she just lost her business and not her life," Sykes said.

Yeah. Going great. I sympathize very much with the rage, but you aren't doing yourself any favors when you direct it against innocent people. Unfortunately, that's often the only response available to the disenfranchised (not an excuse -- an understanding...there's a difference): the cops will never allow them to set fire to the mayor's house or to the downtown or even to march to the neighborhoods where the power lies, and that anger needs an outlet. Eventually any target will do.

I'm reminded of the Dead Kennedy's song "Riot."

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