Targeting Black Men — Florida Cops Use Pics of Real Black Men for Target Practice
What’s Wrong With This Picture?
For those mainly white people, especially the so-called “conservatives,” and all supporters of police who insist that the majority of cops are incapable of willful wrongdoing (especially race-based wrongdoing), and for those of any “race” who subscribe to the “few bad apples” theory of policing, consider this:
Abby Zimet is a staff writer at Commondreams.org. She has done us all a service by posting an expose’ of the North Miami Beach Police Department’s use of bullet-ridden, photos of real black men as target practice at their official shooting range.
This practice (pun very much intended), however, was only discovered because a Florida National Guard member, Sgt. Valerie Deant, went to that selfsame range to complete her annual weapons training regimen. Imagine her shock and horror when she entered the shooting gallery and saw an actual 15-year-old mugshot of her very own brother Woody being used as one of six “targets.”
Woody Deant’s picture had already been shot up by the previous shooters — the North Miami cops (who apparently had forgotten to take down their target-pictures when they finished). Thus, Sgt. Deant’s brother’s picture featured one bullet hole through his left eye and another one smack-dab-in-middle of his forehead — kill shots both.
An incredulous and angry Sgt. Deant asked the operators of the range, “Why is my brother being used for target practice?” They referred her to the police department’s Chief — J. Scott Dennis.
Incredibly (or maybe not), his response to the sergeant was telling, essentially demanding to know what was her problem.
But once the news of this practice got out of the police department’s purview and control, Chief Dennis finally, reluctantly, allowed that perhaps, just maybe, he and his department could possibly have exercised slightly better judgment. That “better judgment” call? He should have, said the Chief, thrown an Hispanic’s picture into the mix of black-guys-as-targets. But as local news reports indicate, the good Chief Dennis insisted that neither he nor his department had done anything wrong and that “no policies were violated.”
That raises the obvious question of what exactly are those “policies” which were not violated by such an obvious, blatant, and yes, brazen case of racial profiling. The answer, of course, is that policy and protocol (as evidence by these pictures) is always to shoot to kill a black man by aiming for the face and head.
As for racial profiling, using the six black faces of real-live, walking, breathing black guys (who may or may not be “criminals”) is “vital” to “facial recognition drills,” the Chief argued.
The Chief, of course, wants everyone to know that he is not a racist and would not tolerate such persons under his command.
The Deants’ family attorney (yes they are considering a lawsuit — wouldn’t you?) argues that, in fact, living peoples’ pictures are rarely if ever used for target practice in other jurisdictions because,
This can create a very dangerous situation…It has been ingrained in your subconscious [when] police come across [young black men] on the street, and [it affects] their decision-making process on using deadly force.
Not surprisingly, Sgt. Deant’s brother, Woody, agrees:
People that are out there who are supposed to be protecting us are using us as target practice….Automatically in [the cop’s] mind, he’s going to think target, target, target, he said.
As for Woody Deant, conservatives, right wingers, and dyed-in-blue police supporters will be heartened to know that, yes!, he does have a “record.” Indeed, Deant did four years in prison for drag racing in North Miami. Drag racing? Four years? Yeah. Two people were killed as a result of that race. Since then, though, the man has stayed out of trouble, turned his life completely around; married; fathered children; and works a 9-to-5 job.
(But I’m guessing here now that none of that matters to my “conservative” counterparts. You see, despite having followed the straight-and-narrow for fifteen years and counting, it was only just last year that “ex-offender” Woody Deant’s right to vote in Florida was restored. But that’s another altogether different essay).
But yet and still, his 15-year-old mug shot remains a touchstone…er…target… for the very same police department which locked him up and sent him away. Fifteen years later, they are still being trained to shoot to kill him on sight.
So, again: What’s wrong with this picture?