CNN’s Erin Burnett interviewed Raysean White, the man who filmed the Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer before and after he shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed black man. Crucially, in addition to White’s video of this shooting, he verbalizes a blow-by-blow, eyewitness account of what transpired just before he began filming; and then Raysean White captured on film the would-be killer-cop pumping seven bullets at point-blank range into the back of Jacob Blake.
You are narrating what you saw here, says Burnett, and obviously you saw a lot that happened before that was so disturbing you decided to start filming it. Your video is the reason tens of millions of Americans now know about Jacob Blake and what happened here. I mean, how does it make you feel, as a Black man yourself, to actually see this happen? Where you were, to be the one who was able to pick up your phone and film it?
Burnett’s is perhaps the most important question as we struggle to make sense of yet another senseless black snuff video. Her question resonates because White’s answer removes a well-worn shibboleth that rabid, unquestioning boosters of police deploy even before the black victim’s wounds have been assessed, or the too often still warm but dead black body has had time to cool. It is a shameless, transparent, obvious attempt to blame the black victim for his/her victimization and immediately extend cops the benefit of doubt which facilitates their ultimate exoneration:
What was happening before the video started? is the question-demand.
This heavily freighted query assumes that somehow, some way, the grievously wounded and still breathing black victim, or the now dead black body, simply had to have been up to no good; and that the overworked, put-upon, careful, circumspect, brave, (yet, understandably, deathly-afraid-of-black- “thugs”) white police officer, was “just doing his job”.)
White’s calm but anguished response to Burnett defiantly subsumes his pain, thus allowing him to speak the truth about what he witnessed:
It is disturbing to actually look out my window where I live and see this man get shot by the police seven times. It is highly disturbing for me, he said. But I’m pretty sure Jacob’s kids were more traumatized than anybody during the whole situation. They were in the car.
White’s concern for Blake’s kids is heartbreaking…to the point of forcing anyone with a heart to fight back tears.
After the shooting, White continued, the mom of one of the children pulled Jacob [Jr.] out of the car, and that was very disturbing to look at. He’s that close to these shots. He sees his dad in that condition. A six-year-old child. It is highly disturbing.
It is therefore altogether fit and proper that the GOP convened its four-day National Trump-Worship Services in Charlotte, North Carolina at precisely the same moment when Jacob Blake was shot down in broad and open daylight on the streets of another American city, again, by those sworn to serve and protect him.
That is, even as Blake’s blood streamed into the gutters of Kenosha, Republican Party conventioneers were issuing a call to arms against just such supposed criminals as Brother Jacob Blake. “Law and order!”, they bellowed and brayed, as the sane among us struggle with how to deal with and what even to call this latest attempted, public, and so far, legal lynching: “Officer-Involved Shooting”? “The Incident”?…“Another Terrible Tragedy”? How about a plain and simple, and supremely depraved, “Crime”? Or, better yet: an act of “State-Sponsored Terrorism”?
Kenosha, like so many thousands of other similarly situated bastions of whiteness, was a once quiet, mid-sized, lakeside, damn-near bucolic city, where a thriving, labor-intensive, manufacturing hub existed for decades. It was, in Trumpspeak, when and where America was “great” — an actual center of, yes, automobile manufacturing (and just about anything else one can think of in the long pre-high-tech era known as the “Industrial Revolution”). Kenosha, however, somehow managed to avoid becoming just another Midwestern town who “lost” its manufacturing base to cheaper laborers elsewhere and anywhere; and never joined the derisively labeled “Rust Belt.”
According to the US Census Bureau, Kenosha had a population of almost 100,000 people in 2019, ten percent of whom were African Americans. Despite its geographic setting almost midway between the two troubled major metropolises on the western shores of the big lake, Lake Michigan (Milwaukee to the north and Chicago to the south) Kenosha had heretofore managed to stay out of the news…until now.
But immediately following the armed assault on Jacob Blake’s black back, protests-cum-fiery-riots ensued in the name of justice for Brother Jacob.
Curfews have been imposed and all manner of investigations are underway.
And, the Wisconsin National Guard has even been called out by the governor just in case “things” get too far out of hand.
At this writing, the still unidentified “officers involved” in this shooting have been placed on “administrative leave.” It is not clear whether that “leave” is paid or not paid…but given the history of policing in this settler-nation, we can proffer a fairly good guess.
Appeal to White People
Please call off your modern-day slave catchers. The slavocracy was defeated in 1865; and this is, after all, the 21st century, the year 2020 to be precise, 401 years since your ancestors dragged my ancestors across the Atlantic and forced them and the twenty-five succeeding generations of their descendants (us) to “develop” this stolen land for their “posterity” — that would be you and yours.
You have the power to end this. You must face the fact that these cops are maiming and stomping, false-arresting and murdering black people because they understand all too well that you have their back; that you will not punish them; that, on the contrary, you will reward them with paid vacations, medals, bonuses, overly generous pensions for just a few years of “service” for a job well done. In other words, these race soldiers, your race soldiers, are doing exactly what you pay them to do: socially control black and poor people…and, to channel a martyred black prince, to do so “ by any means necessary.”
So please! Call off your racist cops! Again, you know exactly who they are precisely because they are you. They are your brothers. They are your sons. They are your husbands. They are your uncles and they are, of course, your fathers and grandfathers. And not a few of them are your sisters, daughters, aunts, wives and your nieces, as well.