THE BLOG

White Reservation: The Justification of Breath and Those Who Take It Away

04/22/2015 10:51 am ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

April 20, 2015 was just another manic Monday for Lady Justice. Until there is proper distinction between visual impairment and the opaqueness of a blindfold, her fair beauty will only be in the eye of the beholder. Allow me to explain.

This Patriot's Day was a symbol of united pride for freedom and justice as the second Boston Marathon since the bombing took place less than two weeks after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of all charges. Under other clouds, stoners reveled in their self-proclaimed holiday as marijuana laws are being decriminalized nationwide. It was a good day and the system seems to be working... at least for some.

I woke up to news of a White House fence jumper being arrested. This incident being one of many security breaches since President Obama took residence. Perhaps it is fair to say U.S. Capitol police have adopted more lenient arrest tactics since they killed Miriam Carey after she crashed into a security checkpoint. Luckily there was no friendly fire when two high ranking Secret Service agents committed a similar offense while driving drunk.

The day also began with news that Freddie Gray had died in the custody of Baltimore Police. From the reason of arrest to the cause of death, all the details leave you with more questions than answers. While Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was doing her best to hold her police force accountable; Tyrus Byrd, the newly-elected Mayor of the small town Parma, MO started her week dealing with the resignation of five out of six of her police force and three city officials.

Later, news broke that Chicago police officer, Dante Servin, who killed Rekia Boyd was acquitted of all charges including "reckless endangerment" despite the fact he shot into a crowd, while off-duty, thinking someone in the crowd had a gun. No weapon was recovered and the person he claimed had a gun was holding a cell phone.

Coincidentally, I just read an article in the New York Times entitled, "When a Gun Is Not a Gun." It introduced a clinical term called "affective realism" and described it as a "lesser-known psychological phenomenon that might explain some of these shootings." These authors wisely and explicitly noted it was not a "preferred explanation for police shootings" but based on the low conviction rates of officers, adding that to the defense might oddly be an overkill of persuasion. After his acquittal, Servin stated:

Justice was served today... I've always maintained that an accident occurred with Miss Boyd... I think it was a mistake for the state's attorney to charge me. But I also explained to the family, if this is what they needed for closure, to be charged, I hope they got what they're looking for.

Is there a clinical term for above the law hubris while shaming the victim's loved ones? I'll just call it supremacy for now. Ironically, so many isolated incidents form a pattern in the neighboring region where the second birth of the Invisible Empire once had its greatest political power.

Meanwhile, across the less superior Lake Michigan, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the termination and criminal charges against Officer William Melendez. Will he get more than a slap on the wrist for the beating of Floyd Dent?

Next came a positive highlight in police state public relations. Rookie Officer Jesse Kidder was lauded as a "hero" for NOT shooting a possibly armed, murder suspect during a chase who was under the influence of narcotics when he charged (hand in pocket) with enough aggression to make Kidder back up (and fall) far away from his patrol car.

This happened in Ohio; the same state still feeling the affective warped realism of John Crawford and Tamir Rice being shot and killed for holding toy guns. Officer Kidder's heroism and the combined symptoms of the suspect's situation (that justified death) had all the making of the first step of an empathic progressive treaty for police and the Black Lives Matter movement. Only one problem: The perpetrator wasn't Black.

I could give a litany of cynical commentary from here to Kenya but to put it simply: A white cop not shooting a white criminal is not newsworthy in the black community. If anything, it's further proof of privilege. I wonder if the mother of Kajieme Powell was impressed by the different outcome of a similar, more threatening circumstance.

If it's not white privilege, perhaps there's a little known psychological phenomenon called "white reservation" which explains the low number of police killings of unarmed white people. If there is such a thing, I hope it deconstructs the duality as a layered effect in the heat of the moment; that gives both the benefit of doubt as well as the right to verbally and physically challenge authority knowing that the cop prefers not to shoot and that the perp might fear for his capture but not necessarily his life. Surely, this reservation wouldn't be limited to white law enforcement or even the media. Why do you think there are few, if any, cases of Black police officers killing unarmed white people without the consequence of punishment? Why wasn't the following video constantly looped in mainstream media? Reservation?

I reserve the right to hate this past Monday because it was a reminder that others hate Mondays too. My day ended with news of a Michael Brown memorial tree being chopped down in less than a day of it being planted. Amidst the maelstrom and versions of justice, it's hard to breathe when even the process of photosynthesis is being interrupted.