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Empathy Alone Won’t Stop Police Killings


Empathy Alone Won’t Stop Police Killings

Libero Della Piana

President Obama gave yet another historic speech Tuesday at the mass memorial service for the five Dallas police officers gunned down during a protest of the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minn.


A spontaneous shooting breaks out EVERY week in the U.S.A. and rather than put sensible bans on the military-assault style weapons, derivatives of this same message saturate the MSM:

"One version of the narrative says that the majority of police are good and don’t go around killing people without warrant. Those who shoot innocents are aberrations, bad apples who should be separated from the rest. They need better training or more rigorous screening."

When the torture going on at Guantanamo surfaced, instead of punishing those at the top including such odious legal minds as Gonzales and Yoo, a derivative of this same narrative went into mass media play:

"One version of the narrative says that the majority of police are good and don’t go around killing people without warrant. Those who shoot innocents are aberrations, bad apples who should be separated from the rest. They need better training or more rigorous screening."

When drone pilots take aim at HOSPITALS (after 2 hours of distress calls going out to redirect the weapons!) or wedding parties, or kids defined as "enemy combatants" for being in the "wrong" place at the wrong time, a derivative of this same narrative is yet again propped up:

"One version of the narrative says that the majority of police are good and don’t go around killing people without warrant. Those who shoot innocents are aberrations, bad apples who should be separated from the rest. They need better training or more rigorous screening."

Always the focus is placed on the individual rather than the system that produces THAT individual and the countless others to follow... in the same damning and damaging behavior.

That's how systemic flaws and those who set the agenda are able to escape blame, legal redress, and culpability.

That way, the dangerous games (co-sponsored by Mars, god of war) continue on to the glory of the Make-War machine and all of those armed forces now part of the fabric of "The Homeland Security State."


"We also need serious consequences for police misconduct, brutality and murder. But none of those things will likely end the long history of police abuse and killings of people of color. That’s because police killings are a natural outgrowth of institutions that have implicitly biased policies and practices."

A resounding YES!!! to the above.


To stop police killings there must be a radical transformation of police values and the MO of belligerence and aggression - coupled with real accountability and prosecutions now made impossible by laws and stacked deck that protect police killers.

"A police officer does not need to be a convinced racist or even be conscious of their bias for a police killing to be racist. As proof of racism, let it suffice that for decades black people have been subjected to police mistreatment, violence and impunity."

:“Ferguson’s law enforcement practices are shaped by the City’s focus on revenue rather than by public safety needs.”

"Ferguson was not an isolated case. All over the country, police departments balance municipal budgets on the backs of black and poor communities. Fines, fees and legal financial obligations (LFOs) are all incentives for police and the courts to engage in aggressive policing and sentencing – and it’s no wonder that the practices have had a sharp increase since the financial crash of 2008."


What we need is a Basic National Income.


Obama is doing exactly what he is suppose to do------protect the status quo.-I saw a local police officer repeat what the Dallas police chief said--join us or be part of the problem.

This is all about protecting certain peoples wealth. Just look at Trumps comments-a true rich person-"If we don't support the police there will be chaos"-------the police are there to protect the wealthy.

What happens in Ferguson happens all over this country,and it happens to poor white people.

Flint ---the days go by and has anyone fixed the problem. I was watching Gasland last night about how the industry(Haliburton??)bypassed the clean water laws. These are rural people getting sick and dying with little political power.

I just watched a clip of Cornel West at the democrat platform meeting----This man is a teacher-every time I listen to him he makes me think---this man is a national treasure and we should hear what he has to say. But how often do we hear from people like Cornel West.--WHAT IS THE MEDIA PROJECTING!

Whats sad is that Bernie Sanders was addressing some of the root problems--yet the 1% got their candidates.


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Where is the Rage against these Murder by Police?
Obama: Pacifier and Chief.......
These police officers should be an outrage to their fellow officers!

Just as the US Empire throughout the world has caused great blowback..... the event in France yet the latest example., the continued Murders by Police will bring continued blowback as seen in Dallas.
Justice Happens


Police shoot blacks not just because they are racists (many probably are) but because they can get away with it. They can get away with it because of the systematic racism in our society. They'd happily shoot white people too but know there would be consequences. In fact they do shoot white people if they are homeless or otherwise greatly marginalized. They also like to shoot family dogs. It's the first thing they do in an in-home drug raid. I imagine it's profoundly intimidating (and heartbreaking) and once again, they can totally get away with it. Police violence will not go away unless we address the warrior culture of dominance that, of course, attracts a certain type of person to the profession.


The “systemic flaws” you refer to are intertwined with racism, with racism being responsible for the systemic flaws. Which raises the question: Should “fixing” be directed at the systemic flaws or the racism—or both? As the systemic flaws are the more immediate problem, I would say that they should be given priority. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for this to happen, however! We humans have proven that the “sapiens” part of our species name is totally unwarranted. How else to explain the likelihood that our species will be “done in” by global warming within a matter of decades, despite the fact that the science behind global warming has been understood since the 1890s?


"Empathy" is a damned insult. What's this crap about "standing in each others' shoes"? When you talk that way without prosecuting and convicting, what you are saying is:

"What matters here isn't stopping murder. What matters here is I get a photo-op and another chance to look like the good guy."


The police unions explicitly tell their brothers they will cover up for them and perjure for them.
The DAs and judges who go soft on these cops send a clear message that there will be no punishment.
The smirking racist (%&^# in Congress who could have prevented the next mass murder prefer to line their pockets with NRA bribes.

In a saner world, these people would be convicted as accomplices to murder.


A vital point that should not get lost in the cloud of particular cases.


This is a very important point. It walks with a myth of redemptive violence that's rooted even in the church.


The key words in this piece are "empathy alone won't." There is no single answer. Systemic and individual racism must be addressed together, and along with a warrior culture and myths of redemptive violence. Individual actions are the expression of ingrained and systemic attitudes. But each individual can be changed in a moment of recognizing the "other" as sibling. As we work to change the systems, we cannot wait for new generations to bear less ingrained racism and violence.

The solution is always both/and.


Money talks. The only thing that will put an end to the legal genocide of America's black citizens is a mass boycott. No protest marches. No lawsuits. No rhetoric. If enough people boycott theaters or Pepsi or Coca-Cola or Walmart or McDonald's or MTV or ??? for just 6 months change would come in 1 year. Businesses would DEMAND it out of fear. The U.S. Supreme Court would not have ruled segregation on buses unconstitutional if blacks in Montgomery, AL, had not boycotted the bus system. They took away its livelihood. That bought results that all the marching and talking in the world could not buy.


That ??? is the fly in your ointment. What business do we boycott? It has to have some relevance. The Montgomery bus boycott was directly connected because it disadvantaged the White employers of Black maids and others. Some of them supported the boycott and provided transportation to get their maids in from their segregated housing. And it was necessary, but far from sufficient.


Not necessarily in this situation. Boycotting is a proven method of affecting change. Government is controlled by Big Business. Big Business is silent now. Hit Big Business in the pocketbook, and you can bet they will demand government step in and curb the police in a hurrrry. The ??? is whom to target FIRST.


US businesses do not see themselves as all in it together, except as they voluntarily unite to buy state legislators in the new commercial federalism known as ALEC. Now there's a place to start. Let's see if we can break ALEC by refusing to buy the products of its members. But it won't be about police killings of Black folk.