Living in a Police Estate

The police are almost never criminally charged for shooting people on the job, and they shoot more white people than black people

Story by Thor Benson Photos by Muge Karamanci
Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I don’t look at the cops the same way anymore. I always had a healthy paranoia when in the presence of the police, as one who has occasionally broken the law should, but now I see them as a whole different beast. I have visions of my imminent death when I see the police these days, and those visions are followed by very little else.

I have these visions because the police in America have become lawless. From Ferguson to New York to Cleveland to Los Angeles, where I live, it has becomes clear the police have an unchecked license to kill. This is not to say the majority of police are bad, or that there is never a reason for an officer to use deadly force, but it has become clear to me that there doesn’t need to be any fucking reason for a police officer to kill, and those who do will most likely just get a paid vacation for doing it. We have an epidemic of unpunished police violence in the United States, and I officially fear the police.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

What if I was to get in a verbal dispute with someone in front of police officers or drunkenly flipped one off for some stupid reason? These are not things I imagine I would do, but you never know what’s going to happen. What if that police officer tried to apprehend me, and for some reason I struggled a little bit. What if that police officer hadn’t gotten laid in a couple months and was getting sort of raw about it? What if that police officer decided to shoot me down? The answer to that final question is likely that not very much would happen at all. The police officer might get in trouble, but I doubt he would lose his job or go to jail.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe that wouldn’t happen that way. After all, I’m a white man. Black men are three times more likely to be killed by the police than white men. For some reason that doesn’t comfort me. I’m not talking about the obvious severe discomfort I feel in hearing that tragic statistic, but part of me still feels like they could get away with killing a white man too. The police are almost never criminally charged for shooting people on the job, and they shoot more white people than black people (because there are more white Americans).

“He was going for my gun!”

“He was resisting arrest!”

“He was holding a gun-shaped banana!”

“He was holding a grenade-shaped avocado!”

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

The first one really gets me. They said it when the police killed that homeless man in Los Angeles, after he was already on the ground after being tased. “Why did y’all shoot that man?” you hear a woman yell in a video of the shooting. “Y’all got (him) tased. Why did y’all shoot that man?” The words ring in my head. The witnesses don’t seem to think he was going for the gun, and it’s all on tape. Hell, the officers there had cameras on them, and I’ve written about the benefits of police wearing cameras myself. Does it even matter? Does it even matter if the police won’t release their own footage and citizen footage doesn’t change the outcome? The Eric Garner case looked pretty cut-and-dried to me, but not a damn thing happened then.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I still advocate for the cameras, because it’s better than nothing, but I have to wonder if they matter at this point. Perhaps they will matter when (or if) we actually have police departments that punish their own officers. Perhaps they will matter when police learn to shoot someone in the leg or maybe just not shoot them 26 times.

Photo © Muge Karamanci

Photo © Muge Karamanci

I’m not writing this as a sort of extended “fuck the police.” I know one day I will need the police, and I will be glad when they show up, but I can’t ignore everything else in the mean time. Maybe a police officer wouldn’t get away with shooting a white man like myself, but maybe that shouldn’t comfort me. Maybe being part of a society where anyone at all can get shot down without any repercussions should be enough to keep you up at night. I feel no relief hearing someone get shot down the street and being assured that I’ll be left alone. I still fear the police.

One Response to “Living in a Police Estate”

  1. Swapnali says:

    Sometimes policemen just like to have a chat and to show off a bit. I had one guy who used to flag me down olcnsioaalcy just to talk motorbikes. It must be horrid when no-one is glad to see you; I think it’s like when you work at home and keep the poor postman chatting.E