by Travis Mateer
The parable of the frog and the scorpion came to mind when I read that the recently disbanded unit within the Memphis police department responsible for the killing of Tyre Nichols was called THE SCORPION UNIT. If you’re not familiar with the parable, here is the synopsis from Wikipedia:
A scorpion wants to cross a river but cannot swim, so it asks a frog to carry it across. The frog hesitates, afraid that the scorpion might sting it, but the scorpion promises not to, pointing out that it would drown if it killed the frog in the middle of the river. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I am sorry, but I couldn’t resist the urge. It’s in my nature.”
Despite the name of the unit, I don’t think this parable applies to the five black cops who beat Tyre Nichols to death on the streets of Memphis. In my opinion we are NOT dealing with the violent NATURE of law enforcement officers here, we are dealing with the NURTURE factor of training and culture that these men absorbed long before what happened to Tyre Nichols.
If we’re to entertain the framing of RACIST black cops killing a black man, then it might be helpful to examine what kind of training Memphis cops receive.
In this opinion piece by Van Jones, he says shit like this about why these black cops might be racist:
Black cops are often socialized in police departments that view certain neighborhoods as war zones. In those departments, few officers get disciplined for dishing out “street justice” in certain precincts — often populated by Black, brown or low-income people — where there is a tacit understanding that the “rulebook” simply doesn’t apply.
Cops of all colors, including Black police officers, internalize those messages — and sometimes act on them. In fact, in Black neighborhoods, the phenomenon of brutal Black cops singling out young Black men for abuse is nothing new.
While Van Jones explains why he likes being in the house and not the field, I wanted to know where these possibly racist black police officers developed their STING approach to policing. Could it be Israel?
The Police Department of Memphis, Tennessee, is among the departments that have sent delegates to Israel. Larry Goldwin served as Director of the Memphis Police Department between 2004 and 2011. Larry Godwin then served as Deputy Commissioner at the State of Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security between 2011 and 2016. Larry Goldwin attended a training in Israel as a delegate of the Homeland Security International Conference in 2010. Larry Godwin is credited with instituting the “Blue CRUSH” predictive policing system at the Memphis Police Department which targets high-crime “hotspots” resulting in increased policing of low-income communities of color.
How police officers are trained is a BIG indicator of how they are going to behave on the streets. You can either go the Crisis Intervention Training route, or you can try other things, like promoting the KILLOLOGY of David Grossman, like Missoula did for awhile until they were found out last February by local media. From the link:
Missoula approved payment of almost $8,000 at Monday night’s city council meeting for two recent police training sessions with a company mired in controversy surrounding comments made by its director, former Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
In a video that surfaced online last year of a presentation by Killology Research Group in 2015, Grossman, head of the group, implies that sexual pleasure of police officers is amplified following a violent confrontation with a suspect.
“Cop says knock down, drag out fight, cuff them, stuff them, finally get home at the end of the shift and cop says, ‘gunfight, bad guys down, I’m alive.’ Finally get home at the end of the incident and they all say the best sex I’ve had in months,” Grossman says in the video.
Yes, the aptly named GROSSman got actual tax dollars to promote his KILL AND FUCK approach to alpha-policing. Do you see any potential problems with this approach?
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