Don’t Use Being Nice to Disabled People to Redirect Attention Away From Police Violence

Did you know that all the backlash against police misconduct that is currently happening in the United States is actually just people needlessly abusing poor kind police officers?

You didn’t? You probably think it has something to do with the spate of unnecessary deaths of black people at the hands of  police. Police officers who are then rarely if ever punished. Deaths that continue to happen despite the growing awareness of questionable police practices.

I am heartbroken as I continue to see new incidences of police violence against people of colour. I am horrified at the lack of accountability police departments have shown. I am particularly troubled by the us vs. them mentality that officers in affected communities have fostered. They have set themselves up as victims. Police turned their backs on New York Mayor Bill De Blasio when he attended the funeral of a slain police officer. Their grievance? De Blasio had acknowledged the systemic nature of racist policing that led to the death of Eric Garner and the issue of the use of stop and frisk against communities of colour in the city.

It is unfortunate that there are a lot of police officers who seem to see any criticism of policing as a personal attack. Whether or not most officers don’t participate in these acts of racialized violence is irrelevant. Failure to recognize and push against the environment that is all to permissive of those who commit violence is the problem. The fact remains that when violence happens, there is little recourse. In situations where there are no witnesses, the police officer is believed. That’s a lot of power.

It is power that is demonstrably not earned, consider the recent death of Walter Scott. The officer claimed he killed Scott in self defense. He said Scott stole his taser. Video evidence has since proven that Scott was fleeing and it is like that the officer planted his taser near the body of his victim. In this case unlike so many others, charges have been laid against the offending officer. Unfortunately this outcome is not likely a signal of a social shift away from the unnecessary loss of life.

During what is tragically only the most recent example of senseless violence, the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, I was reminded of a video I saw around Easter. It is a video about a father who found a way to make beeping Easter eggs so that his visually impaired daughter could participate in Easter egg hunts.

For the most part, the video is endearing and aside from the sexist remark at the beginning about the pink phone and his comment about how he thought he would have to institutionalize his visually impaired daughter, it is generally informative.

Despite being a feel good piece about helping blind children, it manages to avoid veering into inspiration porn territory. It is actually quite informative as to how to include children with visual impairments in social functions where sight is generally considered necessary.

Where it gets dicey is near the end around the 5:45 mark. He has throughout the video mentioned that he works for the ATF and that the ATF and other law enforcement agencies have been making these eggs. So the nice actions are connected to the makers but right at the end he makes a comment which makes me very uncomfortable. When the reporter asks him how other people can support this initiative he says (emphasis mine).

You could even call your local police department and talk to somebody with the bomb squad or call your local ATF office. You know law enforcement has taken a beating here lately and the Christan Church as well and both organizations have selflessly stepped up.

The first time I watched this video as soon as he said “law enforcement has taken a beating” I stopped the video in disgust. I could not believe that he would make a veiled reference to protests against police violence and so utterly disregard why there are protests in the first place and place law enforcement in the role of victim.

He also decided to use helping disabled children as a way to minimize the seriousness of the situation. Helping one marginalized group does not erase an organization’s role in the active oppression of another!

To me this is just awful. It’s like saying “ignore or overlook the suffering of one group by looking at the marginal inclusion of another”

You might say that this interview was taped before the death of Freddie Gray so it is applied out of context but it was not before the deaths of

Michael Brown

Eric Garner

Tamir Rice

and so many others at the hands of police and I assure in these cases it was not law enforcement that was taking a beating.

Helping build inclusion for disabled people is wonderful and educating others on how to do it is very important. Being a part of that push to inclusion does not however erase a groups involvement in the deaths and oppression of people of colour.

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