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This place matters

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A cop shot a guy... who was shooting at him

Another black man was killed by a white cop in St. Louis, an Associated Press article tells me. The cop claimed that the Vonderitt D. Meyers whipped out a gun and started shooting, but the boy's mom said the boy had a sandwich, not a gun.
Oh yeah, and by the way, ballistics show Meyers totally had a gun and appear to confirm that he fired three times at officer with a stolen gun that was found at the scene. A fact that the article only points out 700 words into a 900 word story. 
The article points out that the man was black, that his parents (who near as I can tell weren't anywhere nearby) say he was unarmed, that a state senator called this "racial profiling gone bad." It mentions the Michael Brown killing in nearby Ferguson. It goes on to talk about protests, candlelight vigils, police arresting black protesters... all before pointing out that there's overwhelming evidence that things went down exactly as the officer in the Meyers case said.
Other stories follow the AP's lead. One CBS news story ran under the headline "Mom of man killed by St. Louis cop: he was unarmed." If you've got credible evidence that the St. Louis police force is both willing and capable of such a cover-up, let's hear it. If eyewitnesses saw Meyers using a sandwich to shoot at the cop, then mom's sandwich story is headline-worthy.
Journalists are well aware that most people don't read the whole story - many only read the headline. The AP and CBS know exactly what readers will assume. The media is lying by burying the truth and in so doing, handing ammunition to the white people of the world who would have us believe that racial profiling is A-OK and every cop who mistreats a minority is the victim of a liberal media smear campaign. 
All the evidence we have so far points to a conclusion that the officer who shot Vonderitt D. Meyers had ample reason. This is nothing like Michael Brown.
Brown was unarmed. He was 35 feet away from the cop who shot him, and at least 7 eyewitnesses say that Brown had his hands up when the cop shot at him. The forensic evidence does not confirm or deny either the officer's or the eyewitnesses' accounts. The cop's actions endangered the many folks standing around. The cop at the very least exercised poor judgement, and it's not unreasonable to suspect that if Brown were white, he would still be alive.
Burying the evidence of Meyers' guilt does not make him look less guilty, it makes the media look less credible. There are way too many folks who rush to defend every white cop who shoots a black man, overwhelming evidence notwithstanding - folks who believe they aren't racist, who want to bury all our heads in the sand and pretend racism is a hazy memory. Let's not be like them, rushing to judge all cops who shoot black men without looking at the evidence. 
I think it's time to focus on healing. I think it's time to focus on better non-violent crisis training for cops. On getting cops the equipment that lets them use deadly force only as a last resort. It's time to focus on solutions that keep cops, citizens, and yes, criminals, safe. It's time for coming together. We don't need liberal and conservative media reporting conflicting facts on the same story - we need openness, honesty, and dialog. 

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