In the past 24 hours, social media has been filled up with a video of a woman named Amy Cooper who was filmed in New York’s Central Park making a distressed call to 911 falsely reporting that her life was being threatened by a black man who told her she needed to follow the rules and put her dog on a leash. Christian Cooper — a birdwatcher who was walking through the park — noticed the woman’s dog off its leash (which is dangerous and illegal), and he told the woman she needed to leash her dog. The woman became irate when the man called out to her dog, and he started filming her with his phone, and SHE approached HIM… Even though he asked her multiple times, “Please don’t come close to me.” She then threatened to call the police, and the man responded, “PLEASE call the cops.” Please watch the video below…
And that is where the video goes from disturbing to downright dangerous. She says, “I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life.” And she does. As anyone who has paid attention to the news over the past ten year/100 years/235 years KNOWS, this is an attack that could potentially end this man’s life. When a white person called the police about 12 year old Tamir Rice being in a park with a toy gun, police drove up and shot him dead literally before their car stopped rolling. When a white person called the police about John Crawford III walking around a Walmart with a gun (which happened to be a toy gun they sold in that Walmart), police showed up and shot him dead before giving him any sort of chance to explain or even drop the gun.
This sort of thing has a very long tradition in this country. It was a white woman’s tears that got 14 year old Emmett Till lynched in 1955 for whistling at/near a white woman… An accusation she later confessed to fabricating.
Despite this white woman weaponizing her tears and fears against yet another black man, the thing that MANY white folks on Twitter seemed particularly disturbed and outraged by was her rough treatment of the dog. Black folks on Twitter saw her actions and were like, “Holy shit, that lady is trying to get him KILLED.” But many, MANY white folks watched that video and came away from it with a sense of “That poor dog.” Within hours, people had found the woman’s name, searched her socials, found where she got the dog, and made hundreds of calls to the rescued pet adoption agency called “Abandoned Angels.” She surrendered the dog to the rescue/adoption agency within the same day. And listen, I’m not saying her treatment of the animal wasn’t disturbing… But if you watch a video like this and feel more concern for the dog than you do for the man being reported to the police for “threatening her life,” you’ve got some serious issues.
This morning I awoke to the news that a police officer murdered yet another black man… All while people filmed it and begged for the officer to take his knee off the man’s neck. I hesitate to post the video, because it is so grotesquely and gratuitously evil. The internet is flush with pictures and videos of dead black bodies, sacrificed at the alter of white supremacy. I don’t want to do more harm, and I certainly don’t want to normalize the brutality that continues day after day… I don’t know what the right thing to do is, but so many people don’t believe any of this is real unless they SEE it. So see it… And if you have a heart, let this video break it.
The man’s name is George Floyd. Police responded to a report of a forgery, after a grocery store called and reported him as trying to write a bad check. They arrested him, they had him on the ground, and STILL the man pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck, putting his weight on him as he repeated told him, “I cannot breathe.” He died shortly after… Like Eric Garner died — begging for his life, with his last words declaring his inability to breathe. Eric Garner was killed/murdered/lynched for the “capital” crime of selling loose cigarettes… George Floyd was killed/murdered/lynched for the “capital” crime of reportedly writing a bad check. Even if this was 100% true, imagine sentencing a man to DEATH for writing a bad check. My God… How utterly broken is this country?
Amy Cooper denies being racist… As “evidenced” by her use of the term “African American” instead of her deciding to use another term. In an interview with NBC, Amy said, “When I think about the police, I’m such a blessed person. I’ve come to realize, especially today, that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury.” Oh, word? White privilege exists?!? You don’t say… After a dangerous act of racism and some dog abuse, all it took for her to realize this was losing her dog and her job. Consider that for a moment: Most white people think of the police as an agency responsible for personally protecting them… Many black folks look at the police as an agency that could very likely end up killing them if they’re called.
Many times nothing happens unless people get upset enough to pick up their phones. Don’t forget that police and prosecutors had video of Ahmaud Arbery getting murdered for TWO MONTHS without bringing charges against the father and son (and later, against their friend who followed them & filmed it) who followed, attacked, and murdered an unarmed black man in southern Georgia. As folks have said before, they didn’t arrest the men who killed him because they saw the tape… They arrested those men because WE saw the tape.
In the past 24 hours, two living beings were choked on camera. One was a dog choked by a white woman while she tried to get a black man killed by the police… The other was an actual human being who WAS killed by the police after someone made a similar call about him. When the woman treated her dog roughly, thousands of people did detective work, they found out where the woman adopted her dog, and they made hundreds of calls… resulting in the dog being taken from her custody and put somewhere safe from harm. George Floyd was treated worse than a dog, and he was murdered while he lie in the street. Ask yourself this: Are you as angry about a man pressing his knee into a black man’s neck as he pleads for his life — over a reported bad check being written — as you are about a dog being choked as it is grabbed by its collar? Because something tells me a lot of you would be more outraged if this cop was filmed choking the life out of a cocker spaniel…
I’ll leave you with the words of W. Kamau Bell:
“Always remember that police bought Dylann Roof some Burger King after he had murdered 9 Black people.
George Floyd was accused of forgery.”
Folks, I love you. I’m serious. I know it seems like wave after wave of depressing news and sadness and despair and lonely isolation. But please look closely for people around you who care. Look for ways to listen and be there for your friends… ESPECIALLY people of color as they mourn the racism and indifference and death all around them. If you are feeling depressed and alone, I hope this post makes you feel less so. But more than feeling better, I hope you are MOVED TO ACTION. These killings cannot continue, and we HAVE to get angry enough to ACT.
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