To the 4 white male policemen who beat me for checking the health of a sick black man in their…
Ali Afshar

The more I ponder this article and some comments attached, the more confused I become about exactly what you believe should have happened which did not happen which prompted you to walk up unidentified on the cops with unsolicited advice.

This appears to be your premise:

“This knowledge [that black males are more likely than others to be schizophrenic] forefront in my mind when I saw a man in his twenties muttering to himself, handcuffed and surrounded by 4 white male police officers on El Camino, in Northern California. As a physician, I have a duty (shit, I swore an actual oath) to preserve the health of all humans.”

Your professed sworn duty does not instantly trump the sworn duty of others lawfully exercising their authority, of course. Your apparent assumption that it does is breath-taking arrogance. The police are not answerable to you on the street. If you have a challenge to present about their conduct, the place to bring it up is by a complaint to police authorities. Just like back in Ol’ Blighty.

You don’t indicate the cops were exercising undue or unlawful constraint on the arrested person. Only that you assumed into existence a health “event” of some sort based strictly on your passing observation that the arrested person was 1) black and 2) muttering to himself.

Wow. You must be very young.

You’ve obviously never been out on the street among addled addicts and other street people who are often quite eccentric (and harmless) even on their best days. These behaviors are plainly not dependent on or related to their skin color. Some perfectly pleasant street people (of all colors) often have ongoing conversations with erstwhile companions nobody else can see. This does not typically cause them to be arrested. Nor does it immunize them from arrest if they commit a chargeable offense. Basically, it’s irrelevant whether they mutter or don’t.

You do not say how you came to such a speedy, moral certainty that this particular human under arrest was suffering an actual health event. Do you often perform walk-by diagnoses on other people? Most psychologists and psychiatrists stoutly resist any such temptation, but perhaps your medical training is different.

However, a physician untrained in treating mentally ill people is no more fit for that duty than the average bloke pushing a sweepcart on the street. It’s unlikely you have the professional skills required to deal reasonably with mentally ill people which are all in a day’s work for the average street cop. (After all, half of the US population are at least borderline nuts and the other half don’t vote.)

In one of your responses, you mention that back home in the UK, paramedics would be first on the scene of an “emergency”. Well, yes, and that would also be common in the US. However, there’s no basis to assume an “emergency” was in progress which required paramedics to be summoned based on your on-the-fly diagnosis as a bystander because the arrestee was 1) black and 2) muttering.

Now, if your real issue is that you think all white cops should be lead-footed, castrated, wrapped in a burning blanket and dropped into the Marianas Trench, you are perfectly entitled to sustain that belief by whatever effort you find necessary. It’s your energy to expend, after all, however you choose.

But that opinion, no matter how freighted by energy, provides no license (medical or other) to interfere with an arrest in progress in any country. Except on modern university campuses, there are no safe spaces for fools.

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