Killing the Strawmen in Police Brutality

Written by Dark Blue.

By now many of us are tired of explaining why everybody should consider police brutality a legitimate issue.

Recently, Terrence Crutcher was shot by the police.  While video evidence, along with the other things that have went to trial, have shown that there was no way the shooting was necessary, people’s opinions haven’t really changed.

We should all be unanimously concerned about incidents where the police are killing people without justification and getting away with it.  Yet too many people waste their time having needless arguments over whether or not something is racist, the meaning of a hashtag (#BLM), or whose problems are actually worse while people are being killed.  So to spare you from the unnecessary annoyances, I encourage you all to just copy and paste something from this article the next time you face one of these rebuttals:

Terrence Crutcher (or whoever else) was not innocent. 

Let’s use Crutcher as an example for this.

Things that determine whether somebody needed to be shot by the police:
– Posing a legitimate threat to the police officer

Things that have no relation to whether or not somebody needed to be shot by the police:
– Prior criminal record
– The police officer’s prior record
– Whether the guy’s mother said he was a “good boy”
– Whether or not the person attended school
– How the guy who got shot felt about the situation
– How the police officers felt during the situation

Now I’m not saying these things never matter, I am saying that they should not matter in this particular context.  If you were skeptical of what Crutcher would have to say based on how you feel regarding people with criminal backgrounds, drug use, etc.; I wouldn’t blame you.

The problem is that it’s pointless to discuss his credibility, because unfortunately, he’s already dead. So obviously he doesn’t have anything to say.  But you know whose credibility we do have to be concerned about?  The officer who shot him.  And we had no idea the officers lied until we saw the footage.

So what makes somebody a legitimate threat then?  He seems like a bad dude.

Let’s use Crutcher’s situation as an example.  What determines if Crutcher should have been shot ISN’T the police officer’s prior history (not good), or this guy’s history (not good either), but whether it was reasonable from the officer’s perspective to believe that she was in danger.  Like if the window was down and he was actually reaching into the car to get the…

Except the window was up.  Forget the fact that there was no gun to begin with, there was no way he was going to reach inside.  There was no basis for the officer to determine that she was in immediate danger.  “Being black, dressing slovenly,  having an extensive criminal background and/or being high on PCP” and other arbitrary excuses aren’t going to give him the magical power to grab a (imaginary) gun on the other side of the closed door as if the door wasn’t there.  Twenty kilos of coke isn’t going to change that.

The problem is that if you require somebody to defy the laws of physics to make your argument, you’re probably doing it wrong.  You do not need to like somebody or believe they were a good person to know their death was unnecessary.

But can’t you understand that police officers fear for their lives?  They risk their lives just to protect us.

We all should understand and respect that.  But handing out premature death sentences shouldn’t be an acceptable way for anybody, let alone police officers, to cope with their fears.  Instead of using their fear as an excuse, we need to look for new ways to help them address them.  Here’s one example:

You can’t prove that police officers are racist. 

We don’t need to prove that the police officers were racist to consider police brutality to be a problem.  We’ve seen a lot of these terrible miscalculations with injurious and/or lethal results against black people: Tamir Rice, Charles Kinsey, Philando Castille and Terrence Crutcher.  These are blatant failures in judgment that are unacceptable no matter who it happens to, regardless of whether or not you believe racism contributed to it.

This could happen to anybody because…/White people have it worse because…

So after watching what happened to those four folks I just mentioned, and genuinely believing that this is not a problem that is exclusive to black people, your response is to accept it?  If your head is still up your ass at this time, either you’re a masochist or you’ve failed to understand how terrible the situation is.

So wait, this actually isn’t about racism?

It shouldn’t be about race.  But if you want proof of racism, look for it in the people who want to pretend their deaths were business as usual, find ways to excuse it, and are confused why others are upset at this.

They’re blowing it out of proportion, (insert all the things that kill more black people than the police)

Here’s an example of how ridiculous it is to ignore a problem because you don’t think it’s statistically significant or because you don’t think a certain group is being unfairly targeted: Let’s say ISIS pulled off what Al-Qaeda did in 9/11 (again), you would be pissed.  Imagine how you’d react if you said something needs to be done and how this is an attack on American society and somebody replied: “Well it’s not really an attack on Americans, you’re blowing it out of proportion, ISIS has killed more Muslims in the Middle East than Americans, plus Americans kill more Americans than ISIS ever will anyways.”   It would not matter how many facts supported their statement, you wouldn’t think too highly of that person.

If they just followed orders they wouldn’t be shot

Let’s say hypothetically, you were able to go back in time and control people’s minds from your computer or mobile phone.  Will you find people (including black people) that you could save from getting killed by the police by making them follow the police officer’s orders instead of resisting?  Absolutely.  But there’s two problems with this.  First, you’ll still find that some people will get shot by the police anyways, sometimes because it doesn’t work (Charles Kinsey) and other times because they didn’t get an opportunity to follow orders (Tamir Rice).  Second, it would be foolish to assume that nobody (including their own family members and teachers who are most likely from the black community) has not told them this before.

Understanding that people should obey the police does not mean ignoring the times people were killed by the police despite following commands or the times people were killed because they never had a chance to comply.

But I don’t like Black Lives Matter because (insert reason)

There’s plenty of people who don’t like the Republican Party but genuinely believe in individual responsibility and family values.
There’s plenty of people who are turned off by third-wave feminists, but will fight for women’s rights to make choices for themselves.
There’s plenty of people who have problems with the bible but still agree that thou shalt not steal.
Your dislike of the organization or how they handle things is not an argument for why police brutality is not an issue.

I don’t see a legitimate reason to act as if these deaths are just business as usual and I doubt anybody is going to prove otherwise.  We should’ve killed off these straw men and other logical fallacies, and actually dealt with the issues a long time ago.

But today is always a good start.


About Author: Dark Blue writes to promote a world where people talk to each other instead of over each other, where people understand each other for who they are, rather than see the other as mere caricatures and where discussions lead to solutions instead of wasting time on the irrelevant.

Dark Blue can be reached at