Chokehold: policing black men and women in America
US justice is built to humiliate and oppress black men
The system treats African Americans with contempt: If police patrolled white areas as they do poor black neighborhoods, there would be a revolution.
TheGuardian, Aug. 11, 2017
Chokehold: a maneuver in which a person’s neck is tightly gripped in a way that restrains breathing. A person left in a chokehold for more than a few seconds can die.
The former police chief of Los Angeles Daryl Gates once suggested that there is something about the anatomy of African Americans that makes them especially susceptible to serious injury from chokeholds, because their arteries do not open as fast as arteries do on “normal people.”
The truth is any human being will suffer distress when pressure on the carotid arteries interrupts the supply of blood from the heart to the brain.
The United States supreme court decided a case about chokeholds that tells you everything you need to know about how criminal “justice” works for African American men. In 1976, Adolph Lyons, a 24-year-old black man, was pulled over by four Los Angeles police officers for driving with a broken taillight. The cops exited their squad cars with their guns drawn, ordering Lyons to spread his legs and put his hands on top of his head.
After Lyons was frisked, he put his hands down, causing one cop to grab Lyons’s hands and slam them against his head. Lyons had been holding his keys and he complained that he was in pain. The police officer tackled Lyons and placed him in a chokehold until he blacked out. When Lyons regained consciousness, he was lying facedown on the ground, had soiled his pants, and was spitting up blood and dirt.
Lyons sued to make the LAPD stop putting people in chokeholds. He presented evidence that in recent years 16 people – including 12 black men – had died in LAPD custody after being placed in chokeholds. In City of Los Angeles v Lyons, the US supreme court denied his claim, holding that because Lyons could not prove that he would be subject to a chokehold in the future, he had no “personal stake in the outcome”. Dissenting from the court’s opinion, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the supreme court, wrote:
“It is undisputed that chokeholds pose a high and unpredictable risk of serious injury or death. Chokeholds are intended to bring a subject under control by causing pain and rendering him unconscious. The result may be death caused by either cardiac arrest or asphyxiation. An LAPD officer described the reaction of a person to being choked as “do[ing] the chicken”, in reference apparently to the reactions of a chicken when its neck is wrung.”
This is the black experience in the United States. This is how the process of law and order pushes African American men into the criminal system. This is how the system is broke on purpose.
There has never, not for one minute in American history, been peace between black people and the police. And nothing since slavery – not Jim Crow segregation, not lynching, not restrictive covenants in housing, not being shut out of New Deal programs like social security and the GI bill, not massive white resistance to school desegregation, not the ceaseless efforts to prevent blacks from voting – nothing has sparked the level of outrage among African Americans as when they have felt under violent attack by the police.
In Watts in 1965, Newark in 1967, Miami in 1980, Los Angeles in 1992, Ferguson in 2015, Baltimore in 2016, Charlotte in 2016 – each of these cities went up in flames sparked by the police killing a black man.
Cops routinely hurt and humiliate black people. Virtually every objective investigation of a US law enforcement agency finds that the police, as policy, treat African Americans with contempt. The police kill, wound, pepper spray, beat up, detain, frisk, handcuff, and use dogs against blacks in circumstances in which they do not do the same to white people.
As slaves built the White House, the chokehold builds the wealth of white elites. Discriminatory law enforcement practices such as stop and frisk, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs are key components of the political economy of the United States.
What happens in places like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland – where the police routinely harass and discriminate against African American – is not a flaw in the criminal justice system. Ferguson and Baltimore are examples of how the system is supposed to work.
Police get away with shooting unarmed black people. Cops are rarely prosecuted because they are, literally, doing their jobs. Police violence and selective enforcement are not so much flaws in American criminal justice as they are integral features of it. Black lives don’t matter as much as white lives.
The whole world knows that the United States faces a crisis in racial justice. The United States of America must be disrupted, and made anew.
There are more African Americans in the US criminal justice system than there were slaves in 1850. Black men are locked up at five times the rate of white men. There are more African Americans in the US criminal justice system than there were slaves in 1850.
The United States is a “failed state” for African Americans.
Здешние политиканы, «эксперты», подконтрольные ЦРУ СМ»И» нахваливают псевдодемократическую, якобы процветающую Америку.
Те, кто любит «наших американских (государственных) партнеров», «забывают» о грязных, злых уродах США. О таких, как коварный и крайне опасный мошенник, расист, лжец, неофашист и убийца Дональд Трамп. И о таких, как порочный Конгресс, кровавые милитаристы США, нацистские ФБР — ЦРУ, лживые американские СМ”И”…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США