The lethal shooting of an unarmed young black man (again!) by a police officer--this time in Ferguson, MO--has of course been all over the news.
I am not passing judgment on the case because all the facts are not out.
Yet, I have stated that it does have something to do with the unbelievable militarization of the police. And of course it has something to do with stereotypes of crime rooted in the law and the media.
And most recently I said this: "By law, the amount of force that CAN be reasonably used is determined by the behavior of the suspect. If a person is not armed and is not using force that can lead to serious injury or death, he or she CANNOT be shot dead."
Yet, a police officer friend of mine replied: "Actually yes, by law they can. The law is interpreted that if the officer is in fear for his/her life....it's been done before and the media has not blown up about it....it is the same for a citizen."
And this really shook me up. Why?
Because it means that if a police officer is afraid, he or she can kill someone, even if the reason he or she is afraid has its roots in racism.
As shown in the book, the media create the impression that black people--and young black men in particular--are dangerous and thus scary. So when one runs at you or refuses to back down, you are now justified in shooting them? Even if the only reason you are afraid is because you have been constantly bombarded with images of dangerous black men over the course of your entire life?