If You Always Default To Victim-Blaming In The Face Of Police Brutality, You’re An A**hole
Even Jaywalking Can Set Off Police Brutality
Nandi Cain Jr. jaywalked on Tuesday, and he’s lucky to be alive. It wasn’t a car that could’ve killed him either… it was police brutality.
Cain was jaywalking when a police officer decided to confront him. In a video shot by a passerby (shown below), Cain is seen removing his jacket; he later said he did it to show that he was not carrying a weapon, after the officer had accused him of having one. Cain keeps his arms at his sides throughout the video, at one point seeming to slightly lift his hands and apparently gesturing, as if to try and calm the officer down, but then quickly lowered them back down.
Suddenly, the officer aggressively marches toward Cain, shoves him, throws him to the ground, wrestles him into submission, and then beats him senseless. Cain appears almost lifeless as the officer is joined by presumably his partner to assist in arresting Cain… why he needed that assistance, God only knows.
At no point in the video does Cain appear to pose any sort of threat to the officer, or the other officers who eventually arrive on the scene. He is very obviously unarmed, acting calmly, and not resisting arrest — but seriously, who gets arrested for jaywalking? — and seems to be following the officer’s orders without protest.
So why the hell does the officer then violently attack Cain? That’s the question most Americans — well, I hope most Americans, anyway — want answers to.
Some ‘People’ ALWAYS Resort To Victim-Blaming Whenever Said Victim Is Black
But some people saw the video entirely differently. In fact, they always see the videos differently in every single instance of police brutality, just as they had in the case of Trayvon Martin. And when we can’t see the whole picture from what is often a single video, these people always know exactly how they want to fill in the blanks… with victim-blaming.
Reading comments about Cain’s story around the web, you’ll very quickly run into people who, for no reason whatsoever and with no evidence of any kind, automatically default to blaming Cain for the officer’s actions.
The comments always sound the same. Why is he taking his jacket off? Is he getting ready to fight? He obviously must’ve said something or done something to make the officer do that. I’ll bet this guy has a rap-sheet twenty miles long. Looks like he got what he deserved.
In each and every one of these police brutality stories, the comments left on the articles are always eerily familiar. Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, and so many other victims of police brutality were characterized as “thugs,” “hood-rats,” and worse. Their past crimes, however big or small, were tied into the events leading up to their deaths, with many framing it as if they deserved to die for crimes completely unrelated to the one in question, even if they had paid their debt to society for those past transgressions already. And when there’s no criminal record to fall back on, they double-down on blaming the victim’s behavior, as if they deserved to be violently assaulted or even killed.
In the eyes of these individuals, everything a black person does is a capital offense. Defend yourself? You deserve to die. Run for your life? You deserve to die. Talk back to the officer? You deserve to die. Refuse or fail to follow every order given, no matter how ridiculous or unwarranted? Die, die, die.
It doesn’t take long for the casual observer to spot the trend. And once that trend has been identified, a logical conclusion is drawn: these people are racist Neanderthals, not worthy of the title of “human being.”
Police Violence And Racism Go Hand In Hand, And It Doesn’t Begin Or End With The Officer(s) In Question
They may not always necessarily realize that they’re being racist, but that’s no excuse for what is, without question and without argument, racist behavior. Instantly assuming the black victim of police brutality deserves whatever happens to them, and finding that hypothesis obvious… that’s textbook racism if ever we’ve seen it.
These are the same people who say “all lives matter” and then bring up black-on-black crime, because they never bothered to learn the actual message of #BlackLivesMatter. They’re the same people who push for draconian voter ID laws, which have a proven track-record of disenfranchising black voters, all in an effort to solve a voter fraud issue that doesn’t exist to begin with. And if these people voted in November, they rather obviously voted for Donald Trump, ninety-nine times out of every hundred.
I used the word “people” quite a bit in that last paragraph. I should’ve have done that, and I’m sorry for misidentifying them. Assholes. The word I was looking for there was assholes.
These assholes (I got it right that time) don’t appear to see police brutality or police violence as problems, but as solutions. To them, it’s not about what the victim did or didn’t do, or how the officer responded to them. It isn’t about how upsetting the video footage is for the rest of us. It’s not about grieving families, or communities sundered by bullets and heartache. It’s not about body cameras, or hoodies, or protest signs.
To them, it’s about black culture. A culture they don’t understand, because they choose not to. A culture they don’t accept, because it scares the hell out of them. They see black skin, and their tiny brains surge with stereotypes, and its from that dark place they conjure up the decision to always back the officers, regardless of what happened to the victim.
Maybe it comes from a place of unbridled hatred, or maybe it’s simple ignorance, or maybe they had shitty parents who never saw the value in teaching diversity to their kids. I’m not a psychologist… it’s someone else’s job to figure all that out. But what I do know unequivocally is that these assholes are blaming police brutality victims because they’re black, and for no other reason whatsoever. And until that nationwide phenomenon changes dramatically, we won’t see a change in police brutality. These violent and dangerous police officers, however rare in the grand scheme of things, are the symptom. Racism itself? That’s the actual disease.
Thankfully, Nandi Cain Jr. is still alive. He wasn’t shot in the back, he wasn’t choked to death, and he didn’t die mysteriously in a jail cell. He was released from police custody shortly after the police reviewed their dash cam footage. The officer in question was put on unpaid administrative leave, and the Sacramento Police Department is launching a full criminal investigation into the event. Justice hasn’t yet been served, but hopefully the story will develop in that direction.
As for these racist victim-blamers, well, there isn’t a whole lot we as a society can do. There sadly isn’t a cure for ignorance, not one the ignorant are willing to self-medicate with, hence their ignorance. Do we engage them in debate? Ignore them, deciding not to feed the trolls? That’s up to you. Just know that if you do decide to open a dialog, you’ll be arguing with a racist. You aren’t going to change their mind. You aren’t going to enlighten them. You aren’t going to magically quadruple their IQ into the low triple-digit range. It’s infuriating, but that’s what it is.
Featured image screengrabbed
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Matt Terzi is a political satirist and essayist from Binghamton, New York, who has written for some of the most prominent satire publications in the country. He’s now moving into more “serious” subject matter, without losing touch with his comedic roots