What If the Victim Had Been White?

A white American won’t take his hands out of his pockets. The black police officer who asks him to do so suspects that he has a weapon in there. He shoots. In the pockets of the dead man are painkillers. — This is the latest case of police violence in the U.S., but under different conditions. It was a white police officer who shot a black man on Wednesday in Arizona. Would the consequences be the same? Does the color of the victim’s skin play a role in deciding whether the act is punished?

Yes. And the outcry which can therefore be heard from New York to Seattle cannot be loud enough. The color theory of the U.S. police force and the U.S. justice system says that black is suspicious. In the case of Eric Garner too, a 43-year-old father who died in mid-July in the stranglehold of an official, a jury decided on Wednesday not to bring charges against the police officer who suspected Garner of selling illegal cigarettes.

The illusion of a post-racist American society is disintegrating. What comes to light is something that was thought to belong to the past: the grimace of a society characterized by mistrust. The danger in the four most recent cases was not posed by the victims. It is the police who have become the enemy against which there is no protection.

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