Dash Cam Footage from Roof's Arrest

[Content Note: Violence; white supremacy; discussion of police brutality.]

Dash cam footage from Dylann Roof's arrest has been released. It shows several police cruisers pulling up to Roof's car, police officers calmly approaching his vehicle, taking him into custody, frisking him, cuffing him, searching his vehicle, and putting him into a cruiser, then high-fiving each other.

A couple of thoughts about the video and coverage of the video:

1. The video confirms reports that Roof was taken into custody in a very calm way. Despite the fact that he was presumed to be armed, and was, he is not roughly pulled from the vehicle and thrown to the ground or injured in any way. He is allowed to get out of his car on his own, while officers reholster their weapons and calmly take him into custody. Obviously this is a huge difference from video footage we have seen of police dealing with black people suspected of crimes far less serious than Roof's, or simply asking why they have been pulled over.

2. Many headlines about the video talk about police celebrating his capture, fist-bumping and high-fiving one another. Which, particularly alongside the news that the police report states police "pulled him over because he was driving too close to a tractor-trailer," seemingly ignoring the woman who identified Roof and followed him for a half hour before police arrived, stands to give the impression that the officers were simply being obnoxiously self-congratulatory. But what the video actually shows is a black officer on the scene turning to his white colleagues and high-fiving them. It feels a lot more personal than professionally celebratory.

Which is not to suggest police didn't have reason to be pleased for successfully taking a violent white supremacist mass murderer into custody. It's just that it's easy (at least it was for me) to lose a key aspect of that celebration beneath the legitimate anger at police treating a white suspect very differently than black suspects are often treated. And unless one watches the video, one won't know about it, because one doesn't find that aspect in the reporting.


I will say once more: If police are capable of taking an armed mass murderer into custody so calmly, I don't want to hear any goddamn excuses for police brutality against unarmed black women and men ever fucking again.

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