14 June 2020

Still No Third Option. All Lives Must Matter

Still No Third Option. All Lives Must Matter
We have learned nothing.

We have learned nothing from the death of George Floyd.

We have learned nothing from the riots and anarchy that followed.

The legacy media has learned nothing about the importance of reporting stories accurately and honestly.

Is it any surprise we have more hysteria, more riots, more howling mobs after the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks by the Atlanta Police?

Facts Always Matter

In every event, the facts are what matter most. The who, the how, the where, and the what are essential if we are to ever understand the why. In the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, we must begin by establishing the facts as they have been reported thus far.

The police were called to a Wendy's restaurant late Friday, June 12, because of a complaint that someone had either fallen asleep or passed out in the drive-thru lane, impeding the flow of other customers. The man, 27-year old Rayshard Brooks, was reported by the police to be under the influence, and was placed under arrest after failing a field sobriety test. For reasons not known at this time, Rayshard Brooks resisted arrest.
Officers were responding to a complaint of a man in a vehicle parked in the drive-thru who was asleep, causing customers to drive around the vehicle. After Brooks failed a field sobriety test, the officers attempted to place him into custody, the GBI said. He resisted and a struggle ensued, leading the officer to deploy a Taser.
In the struggle, Brooks was Tased apparently twice, succeeded in grabbing a Taser from one of the arresting officers, and began to flee. While fleeing, he pointed the Taser at the officers, at which point he was shot by police.
GBI Director Vic Reynolds said Brooks had grabbed a Taser from one officer and appeared to point it at the officer as he fled. The officer fired an estimated three shots.
Despite an ongoing and incomplete investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms immediately proclaimed the shooting to be unjustified and called for the officer who shot Brooks, Garrett Rolfe, to be fired.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the police chief's resignation at a Saturday afternoon news conference, and had called for the immediate firing of the officer who opened fire.

"I do not believe that this was a justified use of deadly force," Bottoms said.
Much of the encounter, including the shooting, has been captured on video and shared widely on social media. Police body-cam footage of the incident has also been released.

While there will be, no doubt, additional facts that will surface as news reporting and police investigations continue, the essential facts we have so far may be summarized thus:
  • The police were called to the scene.
  • Rayshard Brooks was obstructing the drive-thru lane of the Wendy's restaurant, prompting the call.
  • The police concluded Brooks was under the influence and placed him under arrest.
  • Brooks resisted arrest, fought with police, stole a Taser, and began to flee before turning to point what is reported to be the Taser at the officers.
  • Officer Garrett Rolfe shot Rayshard Brooks.
These are the facts we may fairly conclude have been established.


The debate, and the protests, that has arisen revolves around the question of whether the shooting was a justified use of deadly force by the police. Justification for deadly force is always an important question, and especially when it is done by the police.

I will not offer an opinion here whether the shooting was justified. The GBI must establish whether Officer Rolfe followed proper procedures in the encounter with Brooks, and whether the situation reasonably called for the use of deadly force.

I will offer an opinion on the propriety of Mayor Bottoms claiming the shooting to be unjustified. She was unequivocally wrong to do so. She was wrong because she does not have the full facts; no one has the full facts, as the investigation is ongoing.

This is not a situation such as with the death of George Floyd, where there is simply no possible justification for the police actions. As much as Mayor Bottoms may believe the shooting to be unjustified, many others on social media, pointing to the same video evidence, claim that it was. At a minimum, we must for the moment concede that we do not know the answer to the question of justification.

This Is Not About Rayshard Brooks

Where this shooting does parallel the death of George Floyd is in the ultimate irrelevancy of who Rayshard Brooks was as a person. His past is not a factor in deciding the merits and demerits of Officer Rolfe's actions. 

Going strictly by the established facts, we cannot say with certainty that race did or did not play a role. Contrary to the media myth, studies show that white police officers are not predisposed to shooting black suspects.
Reports of racially motivated, fatal shootings by police officers have garnered extensive public attention and sparked activism across the nation. New research from Michigan State University and University of Maryland reveals findings that flip many of these reports on their heads—white police officers are not more likely to shoot minorities citizens than non-white officers.
Moreover, nothing in the established facts highlights either Rayshard Brooks' or Garrett Rolfe's race as a significant factor. Even a cursory review of the media reporting shows references to race are gratuitous (and therefore misleading), as this lead paragraph in The Guardian shows:
Protesters have shut down a major highway in Atlanta and set fire to a Wendy’s restaurant where a black man was shot by police as he tried to escape arrest.
We cannot say--no one can say--with certainty that a suspect of any other ethnicity would have not been met with lethal force under the same circumstances. 

We can say--and should say--with certainty that, as with George Floyd, this shooting is not about Rayshard Brooks.

Rioting Is Still Not Protest

We can also say with certainty that, regardless of any injustice in Rayshard Brooks' death, the Wendy's restaurant itself had no role in it. The restaurant did not seek out Brooks' death, nor did it put a gun in anyone's hand.

There is no justification and no justice in people deciding to set fire to the Wendy's during a "protest". Arson is not now and never has been "protest", and it is unconscionable for the legacy media to describe such actions as protest--yet they do, repeatedly.

Again, from The Guardian:
Protesters have shut down a major highway in Atlanta and set fire to a Wendy’s restaurant where a black man was shot by police as he tried to escape arrest.
A fire broke out inside the Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta where a black man was shot and killed by a police officer and where protesters gathered throughout Saturday. 
From the Associated Press (courtesy of 6ABC/WPVI News in Philadelphia):
Protesters on Saturday night set fire to the Wendy's restaurant where Brooks was fatally shot the night before and blocked traffic on a nearby highway. The fire was out by 11:30 p.m., but video from local news stations showed it again aflame around 4 a.m. Sunday. Atlanta police said 36 people were arrested at protests as of midnight. 
Protests do not cause spontaneous combustion in restaurants or anywhere else. The burning of the Wendy's restaurant was an act of arson, and the people who committed the arson were rioting, not protesting. They were not seeking justice for Rayshard Brooks nor for any other person. Media accounts portraying such actions as anything but riotous and illegal are simply false narratives.

Sadly, that is all the legacy media is able to provide any more. As was the case with George Floyd, and has been the case with so many news stories in recent memory, such as the CCPVirus "pandemic" or the execrable coverage by the media of President Trump, the legacy media dispenses with journalism in favor of click-bait, rage bait, and salacious headlines, exchanging informing the public for providing "infotainment." The shooting of Rayshard Brooks is proving to be no different.

USA Today has even gone so far as to use Rayshard Brooks' family to promote a factually false depiction of events, suggesting that Brooks was simply "parked" and that police had no business engaging with him.
Crystal Brooks, who said she is Rayshard Brooks' sister-in-law, joined protesters outside the Atlanta Wendy's on Saturday night.  
"He wasn’t causing anyone any harm," she said. "The police went up to the car and even though the car was parked they pulled him out of the car and started tussling with him. He did grab the Taser, but he just grabbed the Taser and ran."
Not only is the Crystal Brooks' statement contradicted by other reporting on this story, the bodycam footage released by the Atlanta Police Department unequivocally establishes her statement to be factually false.  The footage shows an extended largely peaceful interaction between Brooks and the police officers that only became violent when Brooks resisted being placed in handcuffs as part of the arrest procedure.

USA Today is promoting "Fake News"; that is the kindest interpretation to be given the inclusion of demonstrable falsehoods in their reporting.

All Lives Matter, Or No Lives Matter

In the end, we are come to the same place as with the death of George Floyd: regardless of the merits or demerits of Rayshard Brooks' death, there is no justification for visiting wanton violence on innocent bystanders, and the wanton destruction of private property.

The decision by the Atlanta rioters (we must not dignify them as "protesters") to commit arson is a crime, and arguably an act of domestic terrorism. It condemnable and must be condemned.

A community is either safe as a whole or it is not safe as a whole. There is no third option. The notion espoused by the Atlanta rioters, that the safety concerns of but a portion of the community can be addressed without regard to the community as a whole, is odious and contemptible on its face. 

Black lives cannot be protected unless all lives are protected.

Black lives cannot be valued unless all lives are valued.

Black lives cannot matter unless all lives matter.

All lives must be protected. All lives must be valued. All lives must matter--or none of them will.

We have yet to learn this lesson. One has to wonder if we ever will.

14 June 2020: Updated to include false reporting by USA Today on the facts of the police interaction with Rayshard Brooks.

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