A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
In your weekly, admittedly rhetorical WTF-is-wrong-with-this-country turn, it seems cops in South Florida have been using real photos of real black men – bullet-riddled, obviously, when they’re done with them – as target practice at their shooting range, an endearing ritual only accidentally discovered when a National Guard band member went there for her annual weapons training. There she was horrified to see the actual 15-year-old mugshot of her brother – one bullet hole in the eye, one in the forehead, today an upstanding member of the community thank you very much – among the six black male faces. Sgt. Valerie Deant’s cogent response: “Why is my brother being used for target practice?”
Perhaps even worse was North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis’ what’s-your-problem response to the uproar: While noting that perhaps they should have used slightly better judgment, presumably by including, say, a Hispanic in there, he insisted that “no policies were violated” (prolly ’cause their policy is always to shoot young black guys in the face), the six black faces represented no racial profiling and using photos of real people in your neighborhood is “vital” to facial recognition drills. Many others disagree, arguing that in fact real faces are rarely if ever used because, duh, “This can create a very dangerous situation…It has been ingrained in your subconscious (when) police come across (young black men) on the street, and (it affects) their decision-making process on using deadly force.”
Woody Deant, who is understandably kinda freaked out to appear in the middle on the bottom row, agrees. “People that are out there who are supposed to be protecting us are using us as target practice….Automatically in his (the cop’s) mind, he’s going to think target, target, target.”
Target, target, target. Yes. Here are some of them, unarmed, since 1999. Yet there remains someone in this country – actually, many someones, from the historical evidence – armed, in authority, wearing a police uniform, who can’t see this is problematic?
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