Killer Cops Get Immunity, No Matter Who's in the White House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

The U.S. Justice Department, now led by Republicans, has officially declined to prosecute the cops that killed Alton Sterling, on video, in Baton Rouge, last year. That’s no surprise. The Obama Justice Department only brought charges against one killer cop – and only after local authorities in South Carolina had already done so. Trump can hardly do worse. “When it comes to killer cops, the best of evidence is never enough.”

Killer Cops Get Immunity, No Matter Who’s in the White House

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

“The Scott case is unique, because it is the only cop killing where the Obama Justice Department actually brought charges.”

Two courtroom events this week serve to remind us that, no matter which party’s president is in the White House, the right to life and liberty does not apply on the streets of Black America, where the police enjoy effective immunity from prosecution. On Tuesday, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not file charges in the death of Alton Sterling, the 37 year-old Black man who was shot to death by cops while helpless on the ground in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last year. Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department and South Carolina officials accepted a former cop’s guilty plea to the charge of using excessive force when he shot 50 year-old Walter Scott five times, while he was running away after a traffic stop, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Both killings were recorded in gruesome detail on video. But, when it comes to killer cops, the best of evidence is never enough.

The police that killed Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, got away with murder, and then proceeded to brutalize and abuse the entire Black community, violently suppressing waves of protest. But, other cops would pay with their lives for the crimes of their brothers in blue. Two days after Alton Sterling was slaughtered, 25 year-old Michah Xavier Johnson launched his one-man war against the Dallas, Texas, police, killing five of them and wounding seven before they blew him up with a robotic bomb -- a first in U.S. urban counter-insurgency warfare. Johnson was avenging both Sterling’s death in Louisiana and the police murder of Philando Castile, near Minneapolis, the same week. Castile’s girlfriend, displaying heroic calm in the face of police terror, went on Facebook Live while the cop was still pointing his weapon, with Castile’s body beside her and her young daughter in the back seat – another first in the annals of the one-sided police war against Black people in the United States. The cop that killed Castile has only been charged with manslaughter – by the state of Minnesota, not the feds -- and has not yet gone to trial.

Ten days after Michael Xavier Johnson conducted his live ammunition protest in Dallas, former Marine Gavin Eugene Long ambushed six cops in Baton Rouge, killing three and wounding three others, before he was killed.

Sham Investigations

Walter Scott had his fatal encounter with a killer cop in April of 2016. A young immigrant, just passing by, had the presence of mind to video Officer Michael Slager pumping five bullets into Scott as he ran across a field. The Scott case is unique, because it is the only cop killing where the Obama Justice Department actually brought charges. Obama frequently announced that he was “investigating” police killings of Blacks, but nothing would ever come of it, and the case would finally be dropped. Which is what happened this week with the Alton Sterling case from Baton Rouge. You can expect the same result from the Justice Department’s ongoing “investigation” of the police killing of 12 year-old Tamir Rice, in Cleveland, back in November of 2014. It will fall to the Trump Justice Department to finally drop the case. But, make no mistake about it; when it comes to maintaining the police army of occupation in Black America, the Democrats and the Republicans are in complete agreement. There is no such thing as a sanctuary city for Black people in the U.S.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].