Child-Tasing Cop Shows Minorities Can Totally Hate Other Minorities
You might recall the 11-year-old black girl who got curly fried in a Cincinnati Kroger in August. It turns out the taser-happy police officer who took down the candy-napper is more of a jerk than we imagined. And my imagination is pretty good.
Cincinnati police investigators said an officer who deployed a Taser to stop an 11-year-old girl from shoplifting violated the department's use of force policy, but also found problems with his telling the girl: "You know, sweetheart, this is why there's no grocery stores in the black community."
Officer Kevin Brown, who is also black, is also confused about some other important matters. The lack of grocery stores in black neighborhoods (a phenomenon known as "food deserts") has more to do with systemic racism and institutional discrimination than it does with random kids snatching Snicker bars. Saks Fifth Avenue didn't abandon Beverly Hills after Winona Ryder's shoplifting interrupted spree. Sephora didn't shutter its Upper East Side location even after Rudy Giuliani's daughter knocked over the joint. But Brown has to fill his victim's head with respectability politics while filling her with 50,000 volts.
Cincinnati PD released a use of force report that reveals Brown violated at least four departmental policies.
The comment constituted prejudice.
He did not turn on his body camera until after he deployed his Taser.
He did not warn the girl he was going to use his Taser. He told her to stop three times as she was exiting the store, but did not warn that he was going to escalate his use of force.
The incident wasn't serious enough to deploy a Taser. Police investigators said officers should use the least amount of force necessary when dealing with juveniles.
Councilman Wendell Young, a former police officer himself, thinks there's no room in the force for someone like Brown, who was also written up for once using a homophobic slur in reference to an alleged victim of domestic violence. The police union president, Dan Wills, however, thinks there's plenty of room for a cop like Brown. "Hey, look, see all this space we've got for gay-bashing child abusing cops? It's not even standing room only. It's like a 1999 Spice Girls concert in here."
"This was nothing more than an African-American police officer talking to the girl in a fatherly way," Hils said.
There is literally body cam footage of the girl crying in terror as Taser barbs are removed from her back. Police Chief Eliot Isaac will decide how to deal with Brown, who is currently on "restricted duty" (i.e. still cashing a paycheck). I would personally like to volunteer to discipline him in an equally "fatherly" way. [Ed note: Commenting rules still apply.]
During his lousy eulogy for Ms. Aretha Franklin last week, Reverend Jasper Williams Jr. argued that black lives won't matter until "black people start respecting black lives." This was just more victim-blaming respectability politics, but it would've been nice if a black police officer respected a black life more than the material goods of a supermarket. The Dickensian-named Officer "Brown" holds and promotes white supremacist views, which I doubt he even thinks are racist. Whether it's possible to get through basic police training without absorbing those views is a debate for another time.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).