(The manslaughter charge against Shelby doesn’t mean much right now in terms of justice. It’s probably only intended to calm things down on the Tulsa streets.—Kurt Hochenauer)
I caution people who want to end social injustice, racism and police brutality in Oklahoma and elsewhere in this country to not immediately think the first-degree manslaughter charge against Tulsa Police Officer Betty Shelby represents something overly significant in the fight for equality.
The charge, now that attorneys are involved, could quickly degenerate into the same cover-up, the same racist story, glossed over with the same political maneuvering by right-wing, racist extremists here and elsewhere. We’ve seen it happen before in this country.
It’s the latest installment of the American historical story we’ve experienced not just since our so-called “video era” vividly and further exposed the contemporary ugly truth of police brutality but also since the scourge of slavery in this country.
Let it be clear it was metaphorically speaking a government-led lynch mob that killed 40-year-old Terence Crutcher (other spellings of his first name include Terrance) in Tulsa on Sept. 16, a mob made up of other police officers and, well, the police chief himself because he’s their leader, and the racists here and throughout the country that want them to get away with it. Now the real cover-up begins. Shelby is the officially accused killer, yes, but the other officers around her and the system that produces misplaced anger against black people contributed as much as she did when she pulled the trigger and killed a father of four.
So Shelby is the scapegoat for now, but it’s possible she will get off with nothing more than second guessing about a terrible choice in her life. Will she go to jail? Not likely. Will she be able to continue to work in law enforcement? That’s really more likely than her going to jail.
I’m not the only one thinking this.
So for anyone living in the bubble of white privilege here in Oklahoma, most of whom are probably not even reading this, here’s how the ‘facts” are emerging. Before I begin, keep in mind whenever an unarmed black man gets killed by white police officers these days in America, which happens on a regular basis, there’s a set of facts presented by officials that conveniently can’t be verified independently by video or any other means.
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