“Them n—-s just got aired out… Somebody bust on the police, n—-. Two sheriffs shot in the face. They trippin’. It’s going up in Compton… Somebody ran up on the corner and bust on their ass, right through the window… It’s a wrap.”
— Instagram video by a laughing witness after gunman ambushed two sheriff’s deputies
I’ll be honest. I got really angry when I watched that video. There’s a special place in hell for any person who celebrates someone — whether it’s a cop or a civilian — being ambushed by gunfire in an unprovoked attack.
There’s a special place in hell, too, for that small group who gathered outside the hospital, laughing and shouting things like, “I hope they die, motherf—–,” while the deputies battled for their lives — a 24-year-old man who suffered life-threatening gunshot wounds and a 31-year-old mother of a 6-year-old.
Despite having been shot through the chin at point-blank range, drenched in her own blood, she managed to drag her partner to safety and apply a tourniquet. Whatever else she’s done in her life, her actions in those moments displayed remarkable toughness and courage under fire.
Then, I saw numerous social media posts, congratulating the shooter, saying the deputies “deserved” it because of the much-discussed police shootings of Black suspects.
No one “deserves” what happened to those deputies last Saturday. To celebrate it as a victory for a “movement” of any kind is abhorrent. They’re not helping the cause. They’re degrading it.
I chewed on it for a while. And then I caught myself. Mentally, I was doing the very thing I’ve criticized Black Lives Matter activists for doing when they talk about police: I was painting the activists with a broad brush.
It’s not fair to say all cops are bad, based solely on the incidents that grab headlines. There are about 800,000 law enforcement officers in the U.S. The vast majority serve and protect their communities — and citizens of all colors — with honor. Like any profession, not every one of them is honorable. There are bad or unethical attorneys, doctors, journalists, veterinarians, accountants, teachers, you name it. It doesn’t condemn the entire profession.
It’s also not fair to say ALL Black Lives Matter supporters are celebrating what happened in Compton. I’m sure many are just as appalled as anyone else — and they probably know such reactions are detrimental to their cause. It’s just that the ones who DO celebrate it really grab our attention, because it shocks the sensibilities of a reasonable person.
It seems many are unable to view these issues rationally, with moderation, to weigh all of the facts and come to a reasonable conclusion. Too much emotion is in play. I’ve said before, where I land is this: Policing needs to be better — better screening, training, updated methods and education come to mind, rather than defunding police, which will only lead to more crime. I can’t help wondering how many dead unarmed social workers it would take to convince everyone that sending them in harm’s way is an epically bad idea.
I also believe it’s relevant that the vast majority of those who were shot by police had done something other than cooperate, whether it’s physically resisting arrest or going for a weapon — and these factors are all too often minimized or ignored in media reports. And, it’s easy to second-guess a cop on a split-second decision when his or her life may be on the line, especially when you can replay a video in slow motion and scrutinize every frame.
It seems so many are staking out one extreme position or the other. Snapping to judgment, after all, is much easier than careful consideration of every pertinent fact. Extremists are more interested in cherrypicking the facts that support their preconceived narrative than they are in sorting out what really happened.
Incidents like the shooting of two deputies in Compton bring out the worst of society — for example, that guy in the yellow hoodie who posted his video like a touchdown celebration for all to see, or the chanting idiots outside the hospital. Then the piling-on starts on social media, and next thing you know we’ve got two sides in a swamp, one side saying all cops are killers and they got what’s coming to them, and the other saying all cops are angels and all Black Lives Matter supporters are racists and anarchists.
Neither extreme position is true.
We need to get to a point where there’s broad acceptance of the fact that it’s possible to believe Black lives matter — and blue ones do, too.
Because they do. They all do.
Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal.