By George Curry
Award-winning film director Quentin Tarantino gets high props for stepping up to tell some truth about the many murders of African Americans at the hands of misbehaving police officers. How, after all, can you justify the killing of a baby boy, Tamir Rice? Or the illegal choking of Eric Garner? Michael Brown stole some cigarillos. Does that deserve the death penalty? We can call the roll and then we can describe a murder. That’s all Tarantino did.
Here’s what Tarantino said – “I’m a human being with a conscience, and if you believe there’s murder going on then you need to rise up and stand up against it. I’m here to say I’m on the side of the murdered.”
Tarantino isn’t a “cop hater.” He is, as he said, a human being with a conscience. Too bad we can’t say the same thing about Patrick Lynch (ironic last name), the president of the New York City Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, who called for a boycott for the Tarantino film “The Hateful Eight,” scheduled for release in December. I’m not a huge Tarantino fan, but if the police are going to boycott his film, I will see it at least twice (or buy tickets for somebody) just to have his back.
What is wrong with the truth? Quentin Tarantino didn’t say that every police officer is a murderer. He called out those who are and said that he stood with those killed – the Eric Garners, Michael Browns, Tamir Rices of the world. Patrick Lynch and those who share his opinion have so embraced the “thin blue line” that they refuse to decry unacceptable police behavior or even express remorse for the unnecessary killings of citizens. There is an attempt to justify every killing, an attempt to say it is all right to use a chokehold, deemed an illegal maneuver; to massacre a soon to be married Sean Bell; to turn 41 bullets on an unarmed Amadou Diallo (19 of the bullets hit him), to sodomize Abner Louima. In the Louima case, several “officers of the peace” were tried and convicted, but they are among the very few who pay the price for their rouge activities.
Any human being ought to shudder at these extreme police killings. Too many human beings, too many police officers, seem to think this behavior should not be decried. The police officers that I know speak among themselves about rouge police officers and their unacceptable behavior, but they don’t speak up. So, there are police officers that choose to rape some of the women they stop for traffic violations. There are police officers that coerce delinquent young girls into prostitution. There are police officers that take the drugs confiscated in drug busts for their own use or to sell. There is silence from police unions regarding these actions.
Police unions with integrity would uplift good officers and criticize bad ones. They’d assert, and then enforce, a code of conduct. They’d say there is zero tolerance to illegal police behavior, and then they’d enforce it. Unions are supposed to defend their members, and that makes sense. Even as they defend those that are unjustly accused, they must also be quite clear that they oppose illegal behavior.
Officer Randolph Holder, a Guyana native, whose application to the police academy included an essay that said he wanted to be a role model, was killed in late October by a criminal who was fleeing him. His death was a tragedy. His family, by the community, and by his fellow officers, mourns him. We who are human must mourn him. We who depend on law enforcement officers to maintain order in our communities must condemn the culture of violence that led to his death. And we who are human and object to violence must also object to the police violence that left Eric Garner dead. We must also criticize the grand jury that decided that his murderer, “Officer” Daniel Pantaleo, did nothing wrong. We must decry the folks who said that Garner was complicit in his own death because he was overweight.
There is nothing wrong with the truth. Quentin Tarantio spoke it. The rabid Patrick Lynch opposes truth and calls for boycotts on a Tarantino film to punish him. Where are the police officers that will cross the thin blue line to hold fellow officers accountable? Why are so many silent in the face of police brutality, murder, and injustice?