The repeated incidents of unarmed black men being killed in confrontations with police are frustrating and a legitimate cause for anger on the part of a public that is clearly weary with such incidents.
Answers have defied the outrage and demonstrations that began after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis cop almost a year ago.
Where those solutions will come from is not fully clear. But it certainly won’t be from reckless and inflammatory rhetoric by elected officials.
At the top of the list of those leaders throwing fuel on this dangerous fire is Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The Dearborn Democrat reacted to the police killing of a young black man in a Minneapolis suburb this week by calling policing in the United States “so intentionally racist” it “can’t be reformed.”
On Twitter, Tlaib offered her conclusion that the shooting was not accidental, as Officer Kim Potter of the Brooklyn Heights department contends. Potter, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, says she believed she was firing her Taser, and not her service revolver at Duante Wright. The young man, who had an outstanding warrant for a gun offense, was resisting arrest after a traffic stop when he was killed.
Body-cam video seems to support Potter’s claim that she made a mistake. While that doesn’t exempt her from responsibility, it also doesn’t fit Tlaib’s narrative of a racist cop out to kill black people.
“It wasn’t an accident,” Tlaib declared on Twitter, without any supporting evidence. “Policing in our country is inherently & intentionally racist. Daunte Wright was met with aggression & violence. I am done with those who condone government funded murder. No more policing, incarceration, and militarization. It can’t be reformed.”
An end to policing and incarceration without a subsequent end to crime and violence is not a tenable solution. The victims of such a Utopian vision would be those who live in places like Detroit, which Tlaib represents.
Tlaib’s false depiction of police as incorrigibly racist killers serves only to fuel the fear and mistrust that contribute to these tragic encounters. Frightened people make rash and regrettable decisions.
Rather than contributing to that fear, Tlaib and others who want to see an end to the unwarranted killings should be working together in advocating de-escalation strategies.
That starts, of course, with better training for police officers in tactics to reduce the use of deadly force. Reaching for a gun — or a Taser — should not be a cop’s first instinct.
The public also must recognize that it’s not OK, and not safe, to fight police and resist arrest.
Most departments in the country are aware of the disproportionate violence against blacks by police and are implementing racial sensitivity training to stop officers from reacting more aggressively to black suspects.
These measures should help. Calling for an end to policing won’t.
Tlaib is a member of Congress. She should be more responsible with her words.
— THE DETROIT NEWS