As long as I’ve been doing stories on fascist policing, I’ve been clear that one vital element of fascist policing is that the people who do the policing are unaccountable to the people they police. Despite the occasional officer arrested for sex abuse of a relative or stealing and reselling shipments of drugs, law enforcement officers in the US are almost entirely unaccountable for the things that they do in the process of enforcing the law, even when those actions are patently illegal.
A story came up recently that I’ve been intending to write about, but I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say until Stephen Robinson at Wonkette said it first. The story is about a family who parked in an accessible space. They may very well have done so illegally – I don’t know and I don’t care. The point is that some rando white dude decided it was up to him to confront this family for having parked there. Voices were raised. The family member who was inside the store during this verbal altercation came out, and looking to defend the people who had remained in the parking lot, pushed the aggressor. The aggressor fell down, and the person who pushed the aggressor backed away.
All that is yucky enough. No one wants to be pushed to the asphalt and no one wants to be yelled at about their parking either. But rando the citizen enforcer then took out a gun and shot the person who pushed him.
It just so happens that the person who did the pushing is Markeis McGlockton, a black man, and the gunshot struck his torso and killed him dead.
The Florida sheriff’s department responsible for the area promptly responded and cleared the mighty white shooter, Michael Drejka, of any possible wrongdoing. And that’s where we get to the heart of why this story falls under the heading “fascist policing”. Drejka appointed himself the enforcer of parking laws and acted in a physically threatening and verbally aggressive manner in so doing. McGlockton briefly escalated the physical aspect of the confrontation by pushing Drejka in defense of McGlockton’s family. McGlockton then backed away. Drejka then made the choice to kill McGlockton dead, denying McGlockton and his family any future love and comfort that they might have given each other between now and the end of fucking time. Because some Black man had pushed him back, and he fell down.
And the cops? Perfectly fine with this. They side with the white guy enforcing laws he had no business enforcing, the white guy causing a public disturbance and making people of color afraid. What Stephen Robinson says next makes me ashamed that my legal education didn’t have me saying it first:
McGlockton’s death is tragic and senseless, but the county’s refusal to hold Drejka responsible essentially renders it a state-sanctioned killing. I can’t help but think of the Dred Scott decision, where Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared that black people had “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”
I agree with Robinson, though I would remove the qualifier “essentially”. The state has investigated the killing. The state has approved the killing as legal. The state has – not essentially, not kind of, not mostly if you look at it in a certain light – the state has fully sanctioned Drejka’s killing of the man Markeis McGlockton.
One could say more, of course. One could name specific killings in Florida and out by vigilantes or cops that place the killing of McGlockton in context, but you’re already familiar with those killings, too many of them anyway even if not all of them. The same city that provides the business license to sell toy guns to kids shoots kids for carrying toy guns. The same county that orders a rando entitled man to back off his stalking of a black teenager happily validates his murder of that same teenager, that same night, right at the scene of the crime.
The US is a society that does its utmost to find a way to justify the most brutal violations of Black lives. Many of us, even in Taney’s day, would use different language in doing so. Some of us stand against it, though too few and too meekly to put a final end to the process. But we cannot deny that we have rendered those who chose to police black lives, whether as cops or vigilantes, unaccountable to the Black communities of the United States of America.
Similarly to my post recently on women’s violent self-defense, I fear that no government of any significant size within the US borders – and certainly not the federal government – will see this fascist policing as the desperate problem that it is until the John Browns and the Fred Hamptons outnumber those who happily murder John Browns and Fred Hamptons. For the murders of John Browns are mere acts of justice and the murders of Fred Hamptons are merely an endless string of regrettably unpreventable isolated incidents, but the killing of a single, off-duty white cop who puts a black man in fear for his life in a Stand Your Ground state? Well, we all know that’s a race war that money and power will do anything to end.
And so, with regret, even though I much prefer a nation without any guns at all, I must now advocate for the creation of a well-funded non-profit in Florida to increase concealed carry permits in Florida’s Black communities, to educate Black residents that they have the right to shoot to kill at any white person or any other person who puts them in fear for their lives, and to educate Black residents that randos attack Black residents without being held accountable by cops, and thus their only protection is taking responsibility for their own, physical self defense.
I wouldn’t want to actually start selling subsidized guns below cost because I think that there would be the unintended consequence that if there were more guns on the street – even if all the guns were properly licensed and sold only to people who had been approved for the appropriate permits – cops would kill even more innocent people. But I think the increase in permits combined with the perfectly honest and factual education campaigns suggested above would be enough to cause outright panic in Tallahassee. If that didn’t cause the immediate repeal of Stand Your Ground, then we could consider beginning to purchase low cost handguns to sell to people with newly approved concealed carry permits. I really can’t see Florida maintaining SYG at that point.
The state of Florida simply doesn’t care that SYG laws are linked to more Black deaths. Freedom to wave a gun around is more important than Black lives to the money and governments in that state. It will only end when white people controlling white fortunes fear that someday soon they might face the same risks of slaughter in the streets as Black people already face today. They will, of course, never admit that racism has anything to do with why they once tolerated SYG but then reversed course. But ending this racist, violent nightmare of a law will be a major victory in itself.