Welcome to the abattoir—a nation where a man can walk into a store and buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, a couple of Glocks; where in the comfort of his darkened living room, windows blocked from the sunlight, he can rig a series of bombs unperturbed and buy thousands of rounds of ammo on the Internet; where a movie theater can turn into a killing floor at the midnight hour.
We know about all of this. We know because the weekend of July 20th became all-Aurora-all-the-time, a round-the-clock engorgement of TV news reports, replete with massacre theme music, an endless loop of victims, their loved ones, eyewitness accounts, cell-phone video, police briefings, informal memorials, and “healing,” all washed down with a presidential visit and hour upon hour of anchor and “expert” speculation.
We know a lot less about Anaheim and the killing of Manuel Angel Diaz, shot in the back and in the head by that city’s police just a few short hours after the awful Aurora murders.
But to the people living near La Palma Avenue and North Anna Drive, the shooting of Manuel Diaz was all too familiar: it was the sixth, seventh, or eighth police shooting in Anaheim, California, since the beginning of 2012. (No one seems quite sure of the exact count, though the Orange County District Attorney’s office claims six shootings, five fatalities.)
This is daily life in less suburban, less white America. On Sunday, when the first of growing daily protests took place, Anaheim police shot and killed another man running away, Joel Mathew Acevedo, 21. Acevedo was armed and opened fired, police maintained—yet another suspected gang member.
It is not hyperbole to say this is virtually a daily routine in America. It’s considered so humdrum, so much background noise, that it is rarely reported beyond local newscasts and metro briefs. In the days bracketing the Aurora massacre, San Francisco police shot and killed mentally ill Pralith Pralourng; Tampa police shot and killedJavon Neal, 16; an off-duty cop shot Pierre Davis, 20, of Chicago; Miami-Dade police shot and killed an unidentified “stalking suspect”; an off-duty FBI agent shot an unnamed man in Queens; Kansas City police shot and killed 58-year-old Danny L. Walsh; Lynn police and a Massachusetts state trooper shot and killed Brandon Payne, 23, a father of three; Henderson police shot and killed Andy Puente Soto, 42, out in the desert wastes near Las Vegas.
The lack of authoritative and comprehensive national data on police shootings and the reluctance of local law enforcement departments to release information on the use of deadly force has sent researchers onto the Internet searching for stories and anecdotal evidence. Newspapers looking into the issue must painstakingly gather information and documents from multiple agencies and courts to determine who is being killed and why. One major recent independent effort by the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2011—undertaken in the wake of community protests over two police shootings in 2010—confirmed anecdotal evidence drawn from virtually all major metropolitan areas. If you are a young man, a person of color, and live in a poor urban area, you are far more likely to become a victim of police gunfire than if you are none of those things.
A Rhode Island police officer who kicked a handcuffed woman in the head got off with probation and a 10-year suspended sentence. Though he was convicted of felony battery, which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence, Krawetz will spend no time at all in prison. And it will take a special hearing to remove him from the force.
Caught on video Krawetz’s crime is a clear case of excessive and potentially deadly force. The woman was unable to break her fall as the kick slammed her head on to the curb, and then Krawetz did nothing to check whether she was all right.
While sitting handcuffed on the curb, the woman had kicked at the cop’s leg with her bare foot as he began going through her purse, but he was clearly in no danger, and other officers stood nearby.
Crimes such as Krawetz’s should never be taken so lightly. Tell RI to get tough on police brutality.