Police Murder Another Unarmed Black Man with Disabilities

Police murdered another innocent unarmed black man with disabilities — this time on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

His name was Saheed Vassell.

Saheed Vassell was an unarmed black man living with disabilities that was murdered by police in Brooklyn. But that is not what the mainstream media is reporting.

The main stream media is reporting that police officers had made a reasonable mistake when they killed a man they thought Was carrying a gun in Brookly. And there is a reason for that. There are a few court rulings that came out of the 1980’s that were designed to protect police officers that murder innocent people. Two of them apply here.

The fist ruling, Tennessee v. Garner (1985) , sets the legal precedent that allows the police to avoid criminal charges if they claim that they believed the person they murdered was a threat to the public. In other words, it’s authorized lynching. All an officer has to do is say that they though the victim was going to run off and commit a crime, and that a split decision was made to kill that person for the good of the general public. In this way, the officer both avoids punishment and walks off looking like a hero — even if they shoot an innocent unarmed person in the back.

The other ruling, Graham v. Connor (1989), allows police officers to murder anyone they want if they have a reasonable excuse for it. This is why the police are allowed to gun down unarmed children like Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun. This is why they were allowed to murder Stephon Clark for holding a cell phone. And this is why they will be allowed to walk free after murdering another innocent unarmed black man.

These claims have been nothing if not overwhelmingly effective in protecting police officers from the criminal justice system, and the media plays an important role in ensuring that the police are found innocent in the court of public opinion as well as the federal legal system. They are already setting up the narrative. The first paragraphs from three of the top media outlets in the nation are both textbook and nearly identical:

CBS New York

“Police fatally shot a man who pointed a pipe, which officials say appeared to be a firearm, towards them in Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon.”

Wall Street Journal

“New York City police responding to reports of a gunman threatening people in Brooklyn shot and killed a man who allegedly pointed a metal pipe at officers, authorities said.”

Washington Post

“Police officers responding to reports of a man threatening people with a gun on Wednesday fatally shot a man carrying a metal pipe, mistaking it for a firearm, police said.”

In addition to the protections police have in the legal system, there will be efforts to blame the victim for his own death. It is already being reported that the man that was gunned down by the NYPD was living with mental health related disabilities and may have been in crisis. People living with disabilities account for over 50% of police murders. Non-normative behavior is often used as an excuse to label a person as a threat. Individuals threatening self-harm are often gunned down for holding a weapon. And general bigotry encourages the nation at large, and police officers especially, to violently deny people with disabilities their rights.

Middle Stream Media Sources often enable a narrative that both recognizes that disability is involved and frame it in a way that further puts disabled people and communities in harm’s way. The Root, for example, put out an article entitled, “NYPD Officers Kill Mentally-Challenged Black Man They Say Aimed a Metal Pipe at Them Like a Gun.”

And the first paragraph of a report coming form Vibe reads, “ An unarmed and, reportedly, mentally unstable black man was shot multiple times and killed in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., after officers were called about a man waving a weapon at people on the street.”

It is not ok to fight against the murder of one minority community while in the same breath creating a narrative to enable the police to murder another.

This narrative often leads to a call for more police training. Training is not and never has been the answer. (If you think it might be, ask yourself how much training Donald Trump, Joe Arpaio, and David Clark would need.) A call for training is really a stall tactic that the police use to receive more funding that should be directed to actual mental health professionals. In the past, funding was directed towards emergency crisis numbers that would alert unarmed mental health professionals. These professionals would then go to the scene to de-escalate the situation and support the person in need.

Those emergency alternatives have been shut down and funding has been redirected to bigots with guns and a green light to commit murder.

Police officers are not and should not be seen or treated as mental health professionals. If they want the training to wear that label, they can go back to school and spend years working towards the graduate degree necessary to become one.

The only training police officers need is this: Hey, police — if you are faced with someone having a mental health crisis, immediately step away from the situation and call someone that can help. You aren’t qualified. You have killed to many people already. Your mere presence will only escalate the situation. Walk. Away.

Reforming the organizational structure of the police to prevent them from being the first responders to a mental health crisis is a step in the right direction to protect disabled men, women, and children — but that will not prevent the police from gunning them down when contact is made. For that, all communities targeted by police — people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, members of the LGBTQ community (especially T) — must come together to ensure that police are no longer allowed to kill innocent people without facing consequences.

In other words, we must all demand that when a police officer murders one of our own — justice must be served.

Again, to do that we have to come together to challenge Tennessee v. Garner (1985) and Graham v. Connor (1989) in court. They must be overturned. And ironically, the Second Amendment might be the best way to do that.

Both Tennessee and Graham allow police to murder without consequence if they claim the victim was armed — or that they thought the victim was armed — and they believed he was a threat. This is why we see white murderers with guns to be peacefully apprehended, while black children playing with toys are murdered.

James Holmes, for example, was arrested without incident after killing 12 and injuring 70 when he shot up an Aurora movie theater. Dylan Roof, a white supremacist that gunned down 9 people in a black church in South Carolina was treated to Burger King after being taken in to custody. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing outside with a toy gun was murdered by two grown armed white men, and Stephon Clark was murdered for holding a cell phone in his grandmother’s backyard.

White men are allowed to possess guns and murder people as part of their Second Amendment right as interpreted today. Black men (and other targets of white supremacy) are murdered for it.

The Second Amendment, as currently interpreted, protects the right for citizens to bear arms. Tennessee and Graham violate the Second Amendment because they give officers the right to murder for no other reason than witnessing someone exercise their Second Amendment right to gun possession.

In 2008, the Second Amendment was revolutionized and the right to bear arms was extended to the individual. (You can learn more about that *here* ) This legal extension of the right to bear arms stands in direct conflict with Tennessee and Graham. To date, though, these cases have gone unchallenged in court. That needs to change.

If we want to end police brutality, we have to end it for all communities. If we come together and direct our energies into overturning the legal precedents that allow police a get out of jail card every time they commit murder — we can finally begin to see the wheels of justice turn. For all of us.

Police murdered another innocent unarmed black man with disabilities — this time on the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But that’s not what the main stream media is reporting.

The main stream media is reporting that police officers had made a reasonable mistake when they killed a man they thought had a gun. And there is a reason for that. There are a few court rulings that came out of the 1980’s that were designed to protect police officers that murder innocent people. Two of them apply here.

The fist ruling, Tennessee v. Garner (1985) , sets the legal precedent that allows the police to avoid criminal charges if they claim that they believed the person they murdered was a threat to the public. In other words, it’s authorized lynching. All an officer has to do is say that they though the victim was going to run off and commit a crime, and that a split decision was made to kill that person for the good of the general public. In this way, the officer both avoids punishment and walks off looking like a hero — even if they shoot an innocent unarmed person in the back.

The other ruling, Graham v. Connor (1989), allows police officers to murder anyone they want if they have a reasonable excuse for it. This is why the police are allowed to gun down unarmed children like Tamir Rice for playing with a toy gun. This is why they were allowed to murder Stephon Clark for holding a cell phone. And this is why they will be allowed to walk free after murdering another innocent unarmed black man.

These claims have been nothing if not overwhelmingly effective in protecting police officers from the criminal justice system, and the media plays an important role in ensuring that the police are found innocent in the court of public opinion as well as the federal legal system. They are already setting up the narrative. The first paragraphs from three of the top media outlets in the nation are both textbook and nearly identical:

CBS New York

“Police fatally shot a man who pointed a pipe, which officials say appeared to be a firearm, towards them in Brooklyn Wednesday afternoon.”

Wall Street Journal

“New York City police responding to reports of a gunman threatening people in Brooklyn shot and killed a man who allegedly pointed a metal pipe at officers, authorities said.”

Washington Post

“Police officers responding to reports of a man threatening people with a gun on Wednesday fatally shot a man carrying a metal pipe, mistaking it for a firearm, police said.”

In addition to the protections police have in the legal system, there will be efforts to blame the victim for his own death. It is already being reported that the man that was gunned down by the NYPD was living with mental health related disabilities and may have been in crisis. People living with disabilities account for over 50% of police murders. Non-normative behavior is often used as an excuse to label a person as a threat. Individuals threatening self-harm are often gunned down for holding a weapon. And general bigotry encourages the nation at large, and police officers especially, to violently deny people with disabilities their rights.

Middle Stream Media Sources often enable a narrative that both recognizes that disability is involved and frame it in a way that further puts disabled people and communities in harm’s way. The Root, for example, put out an article entitled, “NYPD Officers Kill Mentally-Challenged Black Man They Say Aimed a Metal Pipe at Them Like a Gun.”

And the first paragraph of a report coming form Vibe reads, “ An unarmed and, reportedly, mentally unstable black man was shot multiple times and killed in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., after officers were called about a man waving a weapon at people on the street.”

It is not ok to fight against the murder of one minority community while in the same breath creating a narrative to enable the police to murder another.

This narrative often leads to a call for more police training. Training is not and never has been the answer. (If you think it might be, ask yourself how much training Donald Trump, Joe Arpaio, and David Clark would need.) A call for training is really a stall tactic that the police use to receive more funding that they should be directed to actual mental health professionals. In the past, funding was directed towards emergency crisis numbers that would alert unarmed mental health professionals. These professionals would then go to the scene to de-escalate the situation and support the person in need.

Those emergency alternatives have been shut down and funding has been redirected to bigots with guns and a green light to commit murder.

Police officers are not and should not be seen or treated as mental health professionals. If they want the training to wear that label, they can go back to school and spend years working towards the graduate degree necessary to become one.

The only training police officers need is this: Hey, police — if you are faced with someone having a mental health crisis, immediately step away from the situation and call someone that can help. You aren’t qualified. You have killed to many people already. Your mere presence will only escalate the situation. Walk. Away.

Reforming the organizational structure of the police to prevent them from being the first responders to a mental health crisis is a step in the right direction to protect disabled men, women, and children — but that will not prevent the police from gunning them down when contact is made. For that, all communities targeted by police — people of color, people with disabilities, poor people, members of the LGBTQ community (especially T) — must come together to ensure that police are no longer allowed to kill innocent people without facing consequences.

In other words, we must all demand that when a police officer murders one of our own — justice must be served.

Again, to do that we have to come together to challenge Tennessee v. Garner (1985) and Graham v. Connor (1989) in court. They must be overturned. And ironically, the Second Amendment might be the best way to do that.

Both Tennessee and Graham allow police to murder without consequence if they claim the victim was armed — or that they thought the victim was armed — and they believed he was a threat. This is why we see white murderers with guns to be peacefully apprehended, while black children playing with toys are murdered.

James Holmes, for example, was arrested without incident after killing 12 and injuring 70 when he shot up an Aurora movie theater. Dylan Roof, a white supremacist that gunned down 9 people in a black church in South Carolina was treated to Burger King after being taken in to custody. Meanwhile, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was playing outside with a toy gun was murdered by two grown armed white men, and Stephon Clark was murdered for holding a cell phone in his grandmother’s backyard.

White men are allowed to possess guns and murder people as part of their Second Amendment right as interpreted today. Black men (and other targets of white supremacy) are murdered for it.

The Second Amendment, as currently interpreted, protects the right for citizens to bear arms. Tennessee and Graham violate the Second Amendment because they give officers the right to murder for no other reason than witnessing someone exercise their Second Amendment right to gun possession.

In 2008, the Second Amendment was revolutionized and the right to bear arms was extended to the individual. (You can learn more about that *here* ) This legal extension of the right to bear arms stands in direct conflict with Tennessee and Graham. To date, though, these cases have gone unchallenged in court. That needs to change.

If we want to end police brutality, we have to end it for all communities. If we come together and direct our energies into overturning the legal precedents that allow police a get out of jail card every time they commit murder — we can finally begin to see the wheels of justice turn. For all of us.

To learn more about Dr. GS Potter and the Strategic Institute for Intersectional Policy (SIIP), visit: http://strategycampsite.org/v2/

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