Archive for beating

An anthem and a beating: The irony of a shared date

Posted in History, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2019 by macmystery

I watched no TV today so I have no idea if I missed anyone else making this connection. I didn’t see it on social media. Maybe I’m the only one who finds it ironic.

On this day, March 3, in 1931, President Herbert Hoover officially made Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner the national anthem of the United States.

Sixty years later in 1991, George Holliday’s 89-second video captured Rodney King’s brutal beating at the hands of four Los Angeles Police Department officers on the side of California State Route 210.

Thanks to Colin Kaepernick, these two totally unrelated moments in American history will be forever linked.

The first viral video somehow wasn’t enough to convict the four LAPD officers, at least initially, of excessive force. (2 of the 4 were later convicted on federal charges.)

And the King beating wasn’t the first time a black citizen (I am making no statement about King’s innocence or guilt.) has been mistreated by police, to put it lightly. But it was one of the few times, thanks to the video, the whole world could witness it.

It was also the moment when I realized the people I’d been taught all my life were the good guys, the people you could always trust, … well, they weren’t always what we were led to believe.

I never feared the police. If I passed an officer on the road, if I wasn’t speeding, I thought nothing of it. My friend Tyrone Walker once told me, though, that anytime a cop was even behind him on the road, he was afraid. And it took me a while to comprehend where Tyrone, a black man, was coming from. But I did. If I hadn’t, I would have gained some insight two summers ago.

I was pulled over by a white Beaufort police officer driving my boss’ truck for work. I was going 45 in a 35, and as it turns out, had an expired tag and no current registration or proof of insurance. And a truck full of equipment I couldn’t prove was mine.

No ticket.

Not even for the speeding. A warning.

I’ve no doubt if I were black, I’d have spent some time face down on the pavement in cuffs. I know why.

There’s a bullshit double standard in this country.

The King video obviously didn’t stop bad behavior by law enforcement. It was just the first in a long line of videos and accounts of police misconduct when it comes to black citizens and motorists. Often they end up shot dead. And usually, no one is held accountable.

Just this week, the Sacramento police officers who killed a black man in his grandmother’s yard for talking on a cell phone found out they would not be charged with a crime.

Meanwhile, in Florida, a white mayor opened fire on police but was taken into custody without any violence.

I honestly had no intention of being this long winded, just pointing out the connection between two events, 60 years apart, on the same date. But thinking about it, I’ve found it’s one more thing about our society that seems upside down to me.

The decision by Kaepernick and others to kneel during the anthem to protest this continued mistreatment of black American citizens offended some people. Despite a clear definition of what they were protesting and a clear right to do so, some insist on seeing it as a slight on the military. (Never mind the issue some of these folks have with color.)

Fine. Have it your way. Be offended.

I’m offended more supposedly good people don’t give a damn about American citizens being beaten or shot to death by the very people paid to serve and protect them, simply for the color of their skin.