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Police Violence Against People of Color: Not Just Afflicting African-Americans

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It’s important to note in the wake of Ferguson that the war against people of color waged by American police forces is not just against African-Americans. Take this case:

In October 2013, An 8 year old Rosebud Sioux girl was shot by a stun gun when Pierre Police arrived on scene and were not able to obtain a paring knife the young girl was holding. In the days that followed, the family of the little girl reported she was suffering from trauma, while the Pierre Police Chief Bob Granpre said the actions of the Police were justified.

Since the incident, family members have secured the use of Dana Hanna and Patrick Duffy as attorneys in the South Dakota area and the tribe has spoken out against the incident. The Pierre police after releasing initial findings will no longer offer comment on the matter after inquiries by ICTMN.

Rose Stenstrom, the grandmother of the little girl and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribal council, says she was upset that her little granddaughter was a delightful and talkative little girl who some media outlets made out to be a monster.

Racism against Native Americans in South Dakota is every bit as nasty as you think racism is toward African-Americans in Alabama. This kind of ridiculous police violence against Native Americans–small children even!–is par for the course in South Dakota. These sorts of stories are only gaining attention today because of Ferguson, but they happen every day in this sweet land of liberty.

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  • DrS

    Have we talked about the Kajiemi Powell shooting?

    • I am not saying this to in any way excuse a man being killed for no good reason, but the full description sure sounds like suicide by cop. It sounds like he wanted to die and, instead of doing their job and calming the situation, the cops obliged him.

      • DrS

        OK, seeing that out there now too. Hadn’t seen that info when I saw that yesterday.

        It does, ahem, seem as though it could have been handled a little better. 20 seconds out of the car and he’s blasting away. Even without the death this produced, that cop isn’t exactly acting in the interests of public safety, IMNSHO.

        • There was no reason for this to end with Powell dead other than the cops couldn’t be bothered to handle a man acting erratically without using their guns.

      • rea

        I saw a video of the shooting–he was nowhere near within knife range of the officers when shot, and they shot him within seconds of arriving on the scene. See here:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTBPtWUJqPM

        Not to mention, there are a number of bystanders present, on the far side of the victim from the officers. It’s a wonder they didn’t kill somebody else by mistake.

        And Warning: that video shows someone being shot–don’t click on it unless you’re prepared to see that.

  • KmCO

    Well I feel safer now, what with our uniformed officers protecting me from the people who really pose a threat. And of course these uniformed officers are the ones that we, according to my right-wing Facebook connections, are supposed to respect and not question at all costs–grown men who are scared of little girls and unarmed teenagers.

    • kayden

      You should ask your rightwing friends why the armed Bundy supporters weren’t deferential to uniformed federal officers who were just doing their jobs.

      • tsam

        You mean JACKBOOTED BLM FEDERAL NAZI THUGS? Not cops, see?

        Also, you would totally have to explain deferential and all the other words in the sentence to them with tiny words that home schooled kids learnt.

  • DrDick

    It is also just as nasty in Oklahoma, Arizona, Minnesota, Montana, or anywhere else there is a large Native Americans population. Violence against Hispanics is also that bad in the Southwest, Texas, and California.

    • joe from Lowell

      I grew up in SE Massachusetts, and I didn’t even know that violence against Native Americans still existed until I went to college and met someone from Nebraska.

    • djw

      Washington, anywhere outside of Seattle, too. I was exposed to far more open and virulent anti-Native American sentiment in my childhood than any other type of racism. People who grew up in Seattle and the immediate suburbs tend to be rather alarmed by this; it’s not really, from what I could see, a thing there.

      • KmCO

        When I was a child, my uncle got married in Edmonton, Alberta, and my family took a road trip from a central plains state up there. Once we crossed into Canada, I noticed a lot of signs at rest stops and billboards along the highway denouncing racism against Native Americans (there had apparently been an uptick in white-on-native people violence around that time–this was 1993). I was nine, and my only knowledge of racism as a concept was that it was directed against black people. It was an interesting early eye-opener for me.

        • leftwingfox

          It’s still pretty bad here in Canada. As a culture, we seem to be very good at ignoring the systemic oppression and neglect, while being laser focussed of the paltry privileges they got in exchange.

          • Johnnie

            This. In northern Wisco you can never hear the end of complaints about the casinos and walleye spearing. Any disadvantages the local tribes might face are completely ignored. The politics of resentment everybody!

            • cpinva

              I can almost understand the casinos, but walleye spearing? what, do they all have horrible aim, and you risk getting skewered if you’re near them?

              • djw

                In Washington, at least, the resentment has to do with treaty-based fishing rights that give members of certain tribes higher (or no) limits, longer seasons, etc. Not sure if that’s what Johnnie was referring to.

                That was the main substantive complaint of anti-Native racism of my childhood on the Olympic Peninsula (along with an alleged propensity for drunk driving, as if the white people didn’t do it all the time as well).

                • DrDick

                  That animosity long predates the restoration of the fishing treaty rights in 1974 as a result of U.S. v. Washington, aka the Boldt Decision.

                • djw

                  Yes, I should have worded that differently. The resentment focuses on Boldt fishing rights now, but it that didn’t exist it would be something else. It’s used as a justification for such resentment but it’s not the cause.

                • tsam

                  In Eastern WA, we hear about this shit all the time. Not as a matter of conservation, but pure jealousy and hatred.

              • Lee Rudolph

                I assume that the tribe has the right to do it, and non-members can’t do it; that would fit a general pattern.

                • DrDick

                  Exactly. What all these idiots ignore is that when the tribes sold their lands to the US government (and most Indian treaties are actually land sales contracts) they retained hunting, fishing, and other rights on those lands.

              • Johnnie

                Some of the tribes are permitted night time spearing during the spring based on the treaties. Consequently, the DNR tends to lower the bag limits on lakes where spearing happens. Consequently, redneck anglers get angry.

                • cpinva

                  ok, this now makes sense. well, “sense” in the way that most of these types of grievances make sense.

            • MAJeff

              I remember moving back to Minnesota after living in Iowa for several years and seeing bumper stickers: “Circle the Wagons, the Indians are Coming Again.”

  • joe from Lowell

    Keep harping on the core issue, Erik.

    Everyone wants to ride this horse somewhere else.

  • ema

    How competent could you possibly be if you’re a police officer who needs to use a stun gun to disarm a kid?

    • Gone2Ground

      My thoughts exactly. A grown ass man who needs a stun gun against a little girl? And why do I bet there was more than one cop on the scene? What kind of mentality is this?

      • rea

        There were four cops on the scene, and it was a paring knife.

      • Aimai

        If you read the comments under the article this sounds like its a combo pack of racism and mental health crisis problems. The little girl was being babysat by a sitter. Supposedly the girl picked up a paring knife and threatened to kill herself with it. The sitter couldn’t figure out what to do and called the cops who arrived loaded with guns, batons, and tasers because *of course* that would be the logical person to show up to deal with a distraught third grader holding a paring knife. RAther than trying to talk her down, offering her an ice cream and a sympathetic shoulder, they tased her. This reminds me of the episode in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels when he employs an elderly woman to do his investigative legwork. He points out that its absurd for the police to employ men “whose private lives are carried out in a series of grunts” when they could be using people who are by nature fitted to be inquisitive, talkative, insinuating and invisible (i.e. elderly women).

        This also goes to an assumption that the police hold–due to faulty training–which is that tazing someone is somehow harmless because its “less than” shooting or cracking heads with a baton. In reality even if you are dealing with a child holding a knife who might cut herself or lunge at you you have nothing to lose by waiting her out. But if you think the taser itself is nothing and brings a quick end to your part of the crisis of course you are going to taze her as a first resort. Its crazy.

        • rea

          Hell, breaking her wrist with a baton would not be acceptable, but would probably be less dangerous to her than tazing her.

        • Denverite

          I think there’s also been an unfortunate tendency in popular media to portray tasing as somehow funny or humorous. I’m thinking like “don’t tase me bro” and that (I feel really guilty for saying funny, but funny) tasing scene in The Hangover. You kind of forget that literally hundreds of people have died because of it.

          • Aimai

            I get that people are dumb enough to think that tazing an adult is not that bad–although the police actually should have more experience with it than that and should have a much better idea of the all around horror of it than a person who has only every seen a funny video of it. But how on earth can anyone think that its safe to taze an 8 year old? How can you imagine that its safer to taze her than to leave her alone to get tired of what she’s doing? I mean for fuck’s sake its actually really hard for a person to injure themselves with a knife. It takes tremendous co-ordination and determination to make more than a shallow cut and an 8 year old will probably become unnerved and exhausted faster just being left alone for a few minutes. What is the function of tazing her? These guys must have literally zero training in talking to people or the training they have had superseded normal human abilities like reasoning and empathy and substituted action as the only way to handle the situation.

            • Lee Rudolph

              These guys must have literally zero training in talking to people or the training they have had superseded normal human abilities like reasoning and empathy and substituted action as the only way to handle the situation.

              Or (and I fear this is the correct alternative) these guys are selected for not being “normal human”s with abilities like empathy (or even reasoning in the absence of empathy).

            • Origami Isopod

              But how on earth can anyone think that its safe to taze an 8 year old? How can you imagine that its safer to taze her than to leave her alone to get tired of what she’s doing?

              I imagine the old racist trope of “They don’t feel pain as much as we do” came into play, even if only subconsciously.

          • so-in-so

            At one time there was talk that every officer issued a taser had to experience being shot with one first. I have no idea if this is sill true, but maybe they need a “refresher” after each use.

            Then again, that might just encourage them to use the side arm instead.

            • Lee Rudolph

              Then again, that might just encourage them to use the side arm instead.

              Not if every officer issued a side-arm had to experience being shot with one of those first.

            • muddy

              Probably doesn’t feel half as bad them getting it in a controlled environment, where they are ready and braced for it, and have 2 of their colleagues lowering them nicely to the floor.

              I’m just thinking of how I can readily withstand pain when I am aware and prepared, and how quickly I will scream if it is unexpected or unusual.

            • witlesschum

              Several police departments I know have this rule, including one tribal police department. Not sure that it makes any difference at all.

          • cpinva

            ” You kind of forget that literally hundreds of people have died because of it.”

            you forget, because the manufacturer has made a conscious effort to scare off anyone who might credibly assert that a taser itself caused a death. they do this by threatening to sue the shit out of any doctor, ME or attorney who dares consider taking that position in court. it’s basically a SLAPP suit approach to wrongful death litigation.

        • This reminds me of the episode in one of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels
          But aimai, is there anything that *doesn’t* remind you of an episode from Dorothy Sayers?

    • joe from Lowell

      I remember once seeing a story about a crazy guy with a hatchet who was menacing people in SE Washington, DC. Two DC cops showed up, talked him down, and got him to give them the hatchet, then took him in.

      My two right-wing kook roommates responded by complaining that the police didn’t shoot the guy. They considered this a bad outcome.

      • cpinva

        “My two right-wing kook roommates responded by complaining that the police didn’t shoot the guy.”

        over the years, I have had occasion to know/work with various levels of law enforcement, from the local police up to the FBI/DEA. it used to be that the very last thing they wanted to do was draw their weapon in the line of duty, and god forbid they actually were forced to shoot someone. even if it was a completely legitimate, no other possible recourse event, the pile of paperwork involved would drown you. I must assume this is no longer an issue.

        • The paperless office of the 21st century has made onerous paperwork a thing of the past! Now any officer can digitally cut and paste his way to efficiency! What used to take five hours now takes five minutes! Science, technology and progress walking hand in hand in hand to a brighter dystopia!

  • Aimai

    I wanted to add that the upper classes and (generally speaking white people who are upper class) are protected from this stuff not because of their color but because they don’t often have to come into contact with the police in this way–unless the white individual is drunk/drugged or mentally unbalanced and the family or community can’t handle it privately with gobs of money. When someone with money is mentally unbalanced, drunk, or drugged out they often have space (private houses, large lots) in which to act out without getting reported or even seen by the neighbors. When they do emerge from their private spaces their families can often stave off police attention by private nurses, private hospitalizations, tutors, guards, etc..etc…etc…

    One thing that all these cases–from the tazed girl to that poor vietnamese child (or was he cambodian?) who was injured in the drug bust gone wrong in Georgia–have in common is that the police got involved at all. Once the police are on scene and have defined the situation as one which “needs attention” their incompetence and their training lead to horrific outcomes. What protects white people from being injured is not just race but also class–a certain class of people just don’t have to call the police for help/an ambulance/medical treatment etc..etc..etc…

    • matt w

      Looking around I’m pretty sure that Baby Bou Bou’s name is Laotian — he’s from Wisconsin anyway (and his mother looks white). The cousin (who didn’t even live there) that they were trying to arrest was Laotian-American though so it definitely falls in the “going after non-rich non-white people” category.

      …and this is definitely a case where the police getting involved at all is the problem. The argument seems to be as to whether the police should have known whether a child was in the house, as if it’s OK for cops to go around tossing grenades randomly into houses if they don’t have positive evidence a child is there (or, you know, any other innocent person). If I went around tossing grenades into houses would it be a defense for me that I didn’t know anyone was home? Why is it different for these psychopaths? Not to mention the callous cruelty with which they lied to the family.

  • Malaclypse
    • kayden

      Another great article from Mr. Pierce. Not off topic at all.

    • Origami Isopod

      A great essay.

      On the opposite end of the spectrum, there were the comments left on the GoFundMe for Wilson, to which Pierce links in his essay. This guy’s response to one of them was wonderfully dry. Better than any I could’ve mustered.

    • He also quotes one of the great passages in U.S.A.

  • c u n d gulag

    WOW!
    That must have been some mighty tough feckin’ 8 year-old girl with a paring-knife if a cop with 3 other cops had to Taze her!

    One cop or two couldn’t distract that 8 year-old girl while another cop took her knife away without harming her, uhm… why?

    I’d start with gross incompetence, and then add a thick layer of sadism.
    All 4 of them should be fired and charged with endangering a minor.

  • tsam

    I’m thoroughly convinced that an upper crust white 8 year old kid would have received the same treatment. Let’s say a mayor’s kid or senator’s kid. You don’t tase them, bro.

    • rea

      A mayor’s family is much less likely to be on the receiving end of this stuff, but it’s not unknown:

      http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/08/07/mayor.warrant/

      • tsam

        Yeah, but those cops will likely pay a price for that. In a lot of Michael Brown type cases, the cops get away with it and are back on the job, which is a great deterrent to that sort of behavior.

        • PhoenixRising

          My friend is a lawyer, married to a school principal. Between them they have 10 years of post-grad, and their salaries reflect their educational credentials.

          Last year, their son (12yo, 6’2″, 185) was in some trouble at school. (The kids who were using 7th grade gym to encircle him and call him a faggot wound themselves up until one of them ran at the boy, whose outstretched flat palm knocked the bold genius into next week…that’ll happen.) The school called the police. On their son. The police came and talked to him.

          The parents were told, by the sergeant at the station, that they should be grateful that the form of intervention chosen by his officers was a talking-to, not physical violence.

          Guess what color the friends’ son is, for a prize of No Seriously Fuck This Country?

  • Origami Isopod

    Ugh. Fuck this guy, and fuck his hallelujah chorus over on Imgur.

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