The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Thursday, July 31, 2008

Of Local Interest...

(Disclaimer--- I'm rambling about a local criminal case, which is the result of a raid in which a police officer shot and killed a woman. It's a main attraction in town these days, with the forth day of the trial being today. The case, while very cut and dry, has opened a floodgate of racially charged articles from our local news, and seems to have removed every bit of common sense from more people than you can imagine.)

One of the defense lawyers attempted to 'judge' the racism of a potential juror by asking him which candidate he was going to vote for, Obama or McCain. Evidently the man answered that it was none of his business, good answer. But I think I would have been slightly more rude about it. Because although it really is no one's business- I get rather annoyed with the thought that the color of the person I'd vote for is used as a measuring stick for whether I am a racist.

I could spend all day complaining about just that part of the case... but it seems almost pointless. Just like I could complain until I'm blue about the fact that our local news seems to have picked out the one reporter with the most bias to cover the case for the paper. Really... how can something be 'blotched' if the raid actually accomplished the mission? They arrested the drug dealer, which brought him to court, which resulted in a guilty plea, and thus put the drug dealer behind bars. How is that blotched? Really, it's not just the little words I have issues with. It's the headline "All White Jury Seated". As if the headline was meant to incite a little more anger into a town already dealing with more shootings than a community of 40,000 should have. Of course the jury is all white. The county is mostly white, we pull juries from the voter registration dockets, and looking at it fairly- the odds were stacked by little things like this to almost ensure a all white jury. And, in the community- it's not an oddity to have an all white jury. But, it is an oddity to see the newspaper complaining about the fact that we have one now.. after all- I can't recall the last time they even bothered to mention race of jurors.

Like I said, there's a lot I could complain about. The fact that a drug addict was killed because she lived with a drug dealer that ended up getting the home raided. The fact that this 'wonderful' mother of six didn't seem to care enough about her children to ensure that they were being raised in a healthy home, rather than growing up in an environment littered with cast offs from the world of drugs. The fact that only now, only after her death is there an outrage by the public... and most of those folks are only outraged because she's dead, not because she lived a life that was questionable to say the least. And I get it, it is sad that a woman, a mother- someone's daughter- is dead. But, it seems that most people, the local news included, has taken to forgetting about personal responsibility. Forgetting that she was in that home the night of that drug raid because she chose to be. That officers where there, not of their own free will, but because it was their job. One that, like it or not, the city of Lima instructed them do.

And, so now... A police officer- one with a good record and recommendations from his 30+ year career is sitting before a jury, having spent two days listening to the prosecution pander their case about how he fired on a unarmed woman. How in doing his job, he was negligent- and how that lead to the death of this woman. I see their point. There he was, reacting to a shadowy figure popping in and out of a room, hearing gun fire and thinking it was coming at him. And so he shot back. There's nothing about how negligent the woman was, how she bore 6 children from almost as many different men- most of whom were involved in drugs themselves- but after bringing them into this world, failed to offer them a life free from the drugs, crime and dangerousness of her chosen lifestyle. She'd learned this cycle of crime and drugs from her own mother- who now acts shocked that this is the end result.... it causes me confusion, this 'shocked at the outcome' act her mother is putting on. I get it, her daughter is dead, and that's sad. But while I believe that no mother should ever have to bury their child- I also strongly feel that when a woman raises her children in a life of crime and drugs, she forfeits the right to be called a mother at all. So this is what the dead woman knew- a life of drugs, a sting of different men, criminal behaviors, and it was what she was teaching her children- after all, she opted to reside in a home with a drug dealer, she'd had drug problems herself... made no effort to provide a different future for her children this time. But there's nothing about that, nothing about the fact that each day she lived this life style, she was negligent with both her own life, and the lives of her children. How easily it could have been a bad drug deal that ended her life, rather than a tense moment in the middle of a police raid. That if she'd not lied to police two weeks before when she was pulled over for a traffic violation, and gave the wrong address for her residence, police might have known she lived in that home with her children. Or better yet, if she had at any point up until that night put her children before herself- and moved away from the life of drugs and the home of a drug dealer- the police wouldn't have ran into her that night.

But instead, the local news got a years worth of catchy hate mongering headlines, and bias reporting that may win them some great award from one of those nifty little journalism associations. And the criminals who complain that they can't sell drugs as freely as they want because of all the racial profiling from the police got more 'proof' that they are being targeted. And all the people looking for a reason to sink even lower into a life filled with drugs, violence and rampid crime got their wish.... now they can blame it on all the police who make life in a drug ridden world so difficult on them.

Oh, and a police officer doing his job got to go to court and hear how horrible of a person he really is. After all, it's really every cops dream to shot an unarmed woman while ducks in and out of a bedroom, holding a cell phone in one hand, and a child in the other. That's why cops wake up every morning, and go to 'the office', just on the slim chance that they maybe, just maybe might get to kill a black woman. (Who was only 1/2 black, so I suppose the officer only got half his wish.) Sounds unbelievable, yet so many people are busy presenting this very theory- pointing the finger and declaring the officers intent to kill someone that night.

It's all sad, the blame being passed around, the cries of injustice, the marches and the anger. Sad, because it's all being directed at the wrong thing. Where were the marches before she died? The cries of injustice for the life she was forcing onto her children, the blame for the way she decided to live her life? Why did no one care enough while she was alive to step in and make a difference... but now that she is dead she's been promoted to the poster child of 'blame the police'? Why not be angry that this is how a 'mother' chooses raise her children?

At some point, the case will go to the jury- the all white jury as the news loves to point out- and they will decide if there is guilt. And possibly after the outcome is known, and people adjust to the verdict, then life can move on again. The lingering thing that will haunt us is that even after it's all said and done, after the verdict and the news coverage subsides- we will always have a that feeling in the back of our heads, keeping us up a little later at night.... wondering just how we got to where we are.

And then maybe, after some time has passed- we'll remember. We got here, because a woman made a lifetime of bad choices for which she never attempted to move past, and a police officer made a quick judgment call in one tragic moment that shots were aimed at him and so he fired back.... and few people were willing to look past the headline that a white cop killed a black woman.