The American Sit-In

Note: Sarah Feinberg is a former Marine Corps captain. Her sister posted this piece on her Facebook account. To see the original Facebook posting and video click HERE. My entire knowledge of the shooting derives from her short essay and the short video, but I thought I might comment on it anyway to show what a person whose knee doesn't jerk quite so easily thinks about it. My comments in red.

BY SARAH FEINBERG

I was glad to see Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles show solidarity tonight with other NFL players who are bringing attention to racial injustice in our criminal justice system. Before you brush off these "protests" during the national anthem as "disrespectful" or "unamerican," please watch the Tulsa police shooting below that took place this weekend and I want to know:

1. Do you think raising a fist or kneeling during the national anthem is more disrespectful or unamerican than a representative of the government gunning down the innocent American man in this video, depriving him of the liberty and justice that the flag stands for?

No, I don't, but I don't know if that is indeed what happened, and neither do you.

2. Are you going to claim this is just one more "isolated incident" of a bad cop? Listen to the tape. Although the man didn't have a weapon and made no threatening moves, the man in the police chopper is heard saying from his standpoint "That looks like a bad dude" based merely on his evaluation from 100 yards that the man is black. A separate cop tazed the man and another shot him in the back. Four cops stood by watching him bleed to death. The department spokesperson told outright lies about the incident before the tapes were released and proved otherwise.

No. I'm not going to claim anything, because I have no idea what happened, and neither do you. Any videos I've seen seem pretty heavily edited, and we see only the very end of the incident. Now just as a consideration, how long do you suppose it takes for a police officer to initially stop at the location, assess the situation as serious enough to need backup, call for backup, and the backup arrives? How about having a helicopter dispatched to the location? Do you suppose any of that might take some time? How long? Ten minutes? Fifteen minutes? Twenty? What do you suppose happened in that time? Now just consider it from the police perspective based on our very limited knowledge from the heavily edited tape. Those police officers approach the man pretty darn warily with their guns drawn. Do you suppose it was just because the man was black, or was it because he did something to warrant that kind of response? To my mind, there's virtually a 100% probability that this man was 1) a criminal, 2) crazy, or 3) both, and the police officers knew or suspected it and were not willing to gamble their lives on whatever the man was reaching for in his vehicle. I think most likely the police officer will be exonerated of wrong doing, or at least not go to prison.

I did not hear the man in the police chopper mention anything about the man being black, and neither did you. I did hear them comment that the man was still walking and not complying with police orders, which is a common element in nearly all of these shootings. I don't know what the department spokesperson said, but I seriously doubt they were outright lies. I would more readily believe he spoke without being fully informed. However, if he did indeed deliberately lie, I would imagine he's not long for his job, given this politically charged situation.

3. Is your initial response a flippant racist comment like, "why doesn't Malcolm protest black-on-black crime since it is more common"? Answer: Rather than protesting, Malcolm is actually addressing crime, poverty, and educational issues in underprivileged communities through his foundation. In his time off the field, he has started businesses, mentors youth in Philadelphia and New Orleans, supports his family, and gives out educational scholarships to those who are climbing their way out of drugs and poverty.

The comment is neither flippant nor racist, but practical and to the point. On one side of the equation, Malcolm protests America because a very small group of people kill perhaps 300 blacks a year, usually for very good reasons. On the other side of the equation, he has no protest against a large group of people killing several thousands of blacks a year. Why not approach both sides of the equation in the same way? Instead of protesting police, why not encourage those youths to become police officers? Why not ride along with the police and see what it’s like? Why not get a police mentor? Why not speak well of the police and their overall mission? Why not become an encouraging liaison between the police and the black community? Or...if he's keen on protestng...why not also protest on the other side of the equation? Why not protest the number one cause of poverty and crime in the black community: the absence of good fathers? I commend Malcolm for the good things he does, but I think he should quit protesting the country that enables him to do them. The police do a less than thankless job and deserve every ounce of praise and encouragement wherever and whenever we can dispense it.

4. If you think that protesting police brutality in a peaceful manner is offensive, how do you suggest Americans take up this issue? Many police departments throughout the country are reforming their tactics, learning de-escalation methods, learning community policing rather than militaristic tactics. And their police union, the Fraternal Order of Police, is protesting these changes while defending the cops who kill innocent, unarmed Americans. How can we support the good cops? How can the bad ones be identified if they protect their own, lie when video evidence isn't available, investigate themselves, are defended by their union, and further protected when their union penalizes politicians who attempt to reform the system or don't show appropriate "solidarity" with the police union?

First, if Malcolm sits during the national anthem, he is not protesting police brutality; he's protesting America, the country that gives him the right to protest. America already has laws forbidding police to do what these protestors allege they are doing. America and its laws are behind the protesters, yet they protest America. For this reason, it is my opinion that their protest is ignorant, misguided, and misplaced.

I think your rhetoric is pretty shrill, and quite frankly, verging on conspiracy theory. That there are problems in the police community, I have no doubt. There are always problems where sinful humans are involved. However, I think police should learn militaristic tactics, because it's a dead certainty criminals do. Or are you of the opinion criminals confine themselves to escalation methods and community criminality?

I take it your definition of a "good cop" is one who does not kill innocent, unarmed Americans. Unfortunately, this is bound to happen with such a hazardous job. Accidents, errors in judgement...there is literally no way to prevent it from happening from time to time. In your video, at worst, I think it may have been an error in judgement. I do not think an accident or an error in judgement makes a bad cop, even though someone dies. It just means they're human, and tragedies can occur in a job where lives are on the line. Of course, there are instances where police become criminals and kill out of callousness, hatred, or revenge, but that is a real rarity, and certainly not typical of what we've witnessed these past several months.

I suppose all those shenanigans you list happen from time to time, but I would be hard pressed to believe they are hardline policies followed by all police departments. As you admit, there are good cops. They are not all bad cops. And I think the majority of them want to do their jobs well.

5. Do you wish that we could get politics out of sports? You would think that the police union would be interested in reducing division between their ranks and the minority communities that don't trust them rather than introducing divisive politics to further alienate the communities they serve. And you would be wrong. The Fraternal Order of Police decided this weekend to break a 20 year streak of not endorsing Presidential Candidates to endorse Donald Trump, the most divisive, "racially insensitive" Presidential candidate since George Wallace. Why don't we all agree to get politics out of U.S. law enforcement before demanding American athletes stop responding to it?

Heh, heh...have you been conscious the last eight years? If Obama missed an opportunity to fan racial tensions, it would make headlines. Why do you think all of this racial trouble is happening on his watch? He is the Racist in Chief, mentored for twenty years by Jeremiah Wright, one of the most vicious racists on the planet.

I haven't yet heard Trump speak against any race, only illegal immigration. That's always the context. Just because many illegal immigrants are from Mexico, Somalia, etc. doesn't mean Trump is against those people groups. He's simply against criminals breaking our laws, and he wants to stop them. That's about the extent of his "racial insensitivity".

I don't think most people mind Colin's protest too much. I don't. I don't mind the FOP endorsing a candidate any more than I'd mind the NFL endorsing a candidate. Is it just that they endorsed Trump that grates you?

I'm not a Colin Kaepernick fan so its a bit harder to support his protest, but he's started a movement and it is good to see people who I know have good intentions and character like Malcolm Jenkins joining the conversation. Malcolm has been a friend of our family for over 10 years starting with his involvement in Athletes in Action, my parents' organization, during his time at Ohio State. He has continued to support the work my parents do in Christian ministry and my dad officiated his wedding a few years ago. I hope you will consider the statement Malcolm Jenkins and other athletes are making and consider that your experience as a white American may be slightly different than black Americans who have only been legally recognized as equal under the law for the past 50 years of our nation's history. There MAY be some bias in our system and we should all work together to fix it so our country continues to improve for everyone.

Malcolm sounds like a fine man.

In sitting during the anthem, the statement they're making is this: "We don't respect America." I disagree with that statement, and I don't think they should be making it. They should protest the people and policies they feel unjust, but never the country that gives them the right to protest and seek redress. They should show nothing but respect and gratitude to the country that instituted those rights and to the God Who created them. Period.