Police officers often claim that their aggressive posture and liberal use of deadly force is just an inevitable and sadly necessary part of the difficult job they do. But one San Jose police officer seems very eager to do extrajudicial killing on his own time. Call 'em extrajudicial extracurricular killings.

As BuzzFeed News reports, Officer Philip White (yes, that is his real name) tweeted his new unilateral public relations strategy on Saturday night:

There's a certain brutal poetry in White's threat, which derisively references the last words of Eric Garner and the slogan "Black Lives Matter," both of which have been purposed as hashtags and rallying cries by protesters against police killings. The tweet sloughs off the mannered excuses for police killings, leaving a naked quick. For Officer White, it's not about doing his job, protecting innocents, or even saving his own life. It's about violent power fantasies and blind hatred. This threat was the culmination of a variety of tweets expressing anger and disgust at protests against the killings of unarmed black men, hitting all the notes befitting a cop named White.

Here's an insinuation that the anger about police killings is inauthentic, coupled with a nifty racial dog whistle, during a rainstorm that shut down much of the Bay Area:

Ye olde respectability politics, which would totally listen to people angry about the cops killing them if they weren't so darn disrespectful of property:


And our personal favorite, good old-fashioned reverse racism with a triple lutz and a cop-twist:

But the tweet we found most telling came on the same Saturday on which he posted his threat, chiding Cal Women's Basketball players for wearing the names of black men and women killed by the police:

The irony of a police officer expressing dismay about Cal student athletes asserting their own humanity on the grounds that they go to a public school is almost decadently rich, but it belies a sobering truth about our modern police state.  Although they like to drape themselves in the holy garb of the public service, police officers often don't see themselves as actually beholden and accountable to the people they police, but instead as overseers or guards in a very large, open air prison. White's utter disdain for the people who pay him to protect them is not an aberration, but endemic, as is his disgust for those attempting to hold police accountable for their actions. White has been placed on administrative leave (with pay, of course) by the San Jose Police Department pending a disciplinary inquiry.

The horrifying coda to this story? Philip White is a police officer most people would have described as "one of the good ones," a community-oriented cop who was handpicked by the SJPD to lead a much-praised anti-gang school outreach and education program. He was also a long-time basketball coach who was, according to the Internet Wayback Machine, listed as an assistant coach for the 2014-15 Menlo College men's basketball team, although they seem to have quickly moved to scrub his name from their webpage. The limits of "community policing" and reliance on "good, well-trained cops" are rarely made so clear.

[BuzzFeed/San Jose Mercury News]


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