Thursday, July 14, 2016

Crime is Crime

One week ago a deranged gunman with a grudge against whites and cops fired his weapon into a peaceful protest march in downtown Dallas, killing five law enforcement officers and wounding seven others. In a macabre irony, the protestors chanting anti-police slogans found themselves in need of their feigned antagonists’ protection as the gunfire echoed through the buildings. Marchers ran away from the gunfire; first responders ran towards the shooting.
It was the deadliest attack on law enforcement in America since 9/11.

(Photo Credit: CNN)
On Tuesday’s (7/12) broadcast of CNN Newsroom, the Senior Editor of Ebony Magazine, Jamilah Lemieux opined that applying the “hate crime” label to the murders was “tricky territory,” inferring such specialization of  murder should be reserved for special classes. 

"When we use a phrase like ‘hate crime,’ Lemieux explained, “we’re typically referring to crimes against people of color, people of various religious groups, LGBT people, people who have been historically attacked, abused, or disenfranchised on the basis of their identity.” Lemieux stated she “wasn’t comfortable” terming the shootings a “hate crime.”

(Photo Credit: FOX News)
On Wednesday (7/13), Texas US Sen. John Cornyn introduced legislation that would make the killing of a peace officer a federal crime. In Texas, murdering any law enforcement officer is already a Capitol Offense, generally punishable by death. And so the vortex spirals upwards, or downwards, depending upon your perspective.

To be clear—what happened in Dallas is tragic, horrific, and indefensible. I’m not sure what’s to be gained by adding an additional label like ‘hate crime’ to the menu, or escalating the crime category: People are still dead.

Crime is crime. Murder is murder. And hatred is hatred, regardless of how it is expressed. Do we really need to designate the killing of one class or race of people more egregious than others? And does being convicted and executed under Federal law make the convicted killer forfeit his life any more than under current statutes?

I find the argument upon which Black Lives Matters is predicated not only a false narrative but offensively racial as well. The officer-involved shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in New York City—both tragic—spawned the specious “hands up, don’t shoot” meme, and set the torch to community relations between law enforcement and segments of society with whom they have to deal. 

“There’s so much that we do not know about what took place, what motivated this person,” Lemieux whined on Tuesday. “We only have the one account of law enforcement. We haven’t had the opportunity to really look into his history in a meaningful way," she said.

Actually, we know quite a bit about the shooter whose name I’m not going to further publicize by mentioning here. In multiple phone conversations with police negotiators, he made it abundantly clear the shootings were in retaliation for his perception of treatment of blacks by police officers. White police officers. He even asked how many he’d gotten. Tit for tat. An eye for an eye. 

Here’s what else we know about the shooter one week later. Dallas police discovered bomb-making materials in his house, neighbors observed him practicing tactical military exercises in his back yard, and he contributed material to a Black Power website. Ironically, his stepmother is white. 

Which gets back to the whole premise of re-categorizing criminal activity. Whether or not the killings are deemed “hate crimes,” the victims are still most assuredly dead. They’re not any deader because they were hated. 

Classifying the murder of a peace officer as a federal offense, as opposed to your regular, run of the mill murder, may provide for a whole other suite of options for prosecutors, but the victim is still the victim and is still…dead. And really, what lunatic armed with a rifle and bellyful of criminal-grade hatred is going to take pause and think, “wait—this will be a federal offense” before squeezing the trigger with a blue uniform in his sights?

1 comment:

Patrick Osborn said...

Well said, Brent. Well said.