Last Tuesday on All in With Chris Hayes, Hayes and his guests — Phillip Agnew, Executive Director of Dream Defenders and retired NYPD detective Marq Claxton of the Black Law Enforcement Alliance — discussed “The Paradox of Race in America.”
Hayes noted that police handling of black suspects is drastically different than the way in which they handle incidents involving whites. He pointed out how open carry groups are allowed to walk through a Target store unmolested, and how the anti government militias who took up sniper positions with guns aimed at BLM agents in the standoff at the Bundy ranch were treated in a lawful manner.
Meanwhile in New York City, Eric Garner lost his life when a police officer illegally placed him in a choke hold for selling individual cigarettes on the street, and a woman in California was beaten by a Highway Patrol officer.
In response to a question from Hayes asking if there has been any improvement in the way police handle racial situations since the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police in 1991, Claxton said:
“No, actually there’s been a significant shift in many police models across the nation that is as far away as possible from community policing and more towards this more militarized, show of force, use of force type policing. It’s been increasingly about producing numbers, arrest numbers, and showing force in communities as opposed to relating to communities, communicating with communities and defusing situations prior to them happening.”
He went on to explain that the show of force approach used in Ferguson is counterproductive and often causes the violence that it was intended to prevent by creating distrust of the police.
When Hayes turned to Agnew to get his take on the situation he got a similar response. Raising his hands over his head in the age old gesture of surrender he said:
“Ever since you’re born you’re taught that this posture right here should guarantee you life and liberty in your interaction with a police officer. This should indicate to a police officer that you mean him or her no harm, that you have no malice in your heart and that you’re subjecting yourself to the will of that officer. And this is the position that for years in this country was the last position that people that people that look like me and people that look like people around this country died in.”
There is no easy answer to these issues, but as long as large numbers of police officers automatically assume that a young black man is up to no good until he proves otherwise there will be situations such as we have seen over the last week in Ferguson.
Watch the entire segment in the video below.
h/t and featured photo screen grab: MSNBC