[Trigger warning for violence/police brutality.]
In Seattle, a white male police officer is being investigated after punching a young black woman in the face, who was intervening while he was trying to cuff another young black woman, who was resisting, and whom he was repeatedly pushing against the hood of his patrol car. The details, including video of the incident, which was shot by a bystander, is here. The video is upsetting to watch, but it's an important piece of our culture, rarely seen, caught on tape—so I think it's also important to watch, for those who are able.
There's a lot going on in the exchange. Leading up to it, the officer reportedly saw the girls, along with two others, jaywalking and asked them to step over to his patrol car. At the time, he was detaining another man he'd caught jaywalking. The girls allegedly mouthed off and tried to leave, and that's when things escalated.
The comments at the link are largely of the same tenor—empathy with the poor policeman just trying to do his job, outnumbered by snarling teen girls who refused to submit to his authority.
Suffice it to say, I disagree.
I am not axiomatically anti-police by any stretch of the imagination; I am the granddaughter of an NYPD cop, whose job was hard and dangerous and necessary. But I am also completely floored by a police officer trying to single-handedly detain five people for two separate incidents of jaywalking all at the same time and allowing the situation to escalate like it did.
Who's being "served and protected" by a cop manhandling and punching two young women whose crime was crossing the street in the wrong place? Who's the real public menace in that scenario?
As ever, there is a seemingly endless supply of people willing to condemn the two young women for "resisting," hanging the blame exclusively around their necks, as if both their race and their gender—and the cop's race and gender—are irrelevant.
They are, of course, anything but.
In broad daylight, in front of a group of onlookers, several of whom were recording the event, a white male police officer roughly handled one young black woman, throwing her against his car hood and tearing her clothes, and punched another young black woman in the face.
That should give anyone with a rudimentary ability to reason some indication of what women and/or people of color have experienced at the hands of police alone, in the dark, with no witnesses—experiences that are shared among their community.
People resist for a reason. One of those reasons is being scared, and some of us have more to fear than others from bad police officers.
The conventional wisdom will almost certainly be that he "snapped," that he didn't have an inherently bad nature as a cop but did a bad thing because of those young women's resistance.
The suggestion that they resisted because they sensed the very nature that resulted in the violence against them will be dismissed as absurd.
And so it goes.