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Police Sergeant Says Cop Who Killed Unarmed Eric Harris Is a "True Victim"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 By Ben Norton, Truthout | Op-Ed
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In an undated handout photo, Robert Bates, a part-time reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department in Oklahoma, who fatally shot a suspect, Eric Harris. (Photo: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office via The New York Times) In an undated handout photo, Robert Bates, a part-time reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department in Oklahoma, who fatally shot a suspect, Eric Harris. (Photo: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office via The New York Times) Eric Harris was pulled to the ground by several police officers. An officer then shot Harris while he was facedown. As the unarmed man lay dying, he wailed in terror "Oh God, he shot me!" and "I'm losing my breath!"

Cops, after yelling "Motherf***er!" at him, replied angrily, shouting "Shut the f*** up!" and "F*** your breath!" Another officer violently pushed his knee into Harris' face as life quickly left his body.

Video was captured of the incident.

After Harris was killed, Sheriff's Capt. Billy McKelvey claimed the shooting was "an inadvertent mistake."

Many Americans are not buying this explanation, pointing out that, if police murdering unarmed Black Americans was truly "an inadvertent mistake," it would not happen almost every single day. In the 102 days from January 1 to April 12, 2015, US police killed at least 325 people - at a rate of more than three people per day. These victims are disproportionately people of color.

In the wake of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing - just one in a wave of police shootings of unarmed Black Americans - Police Sgt. Jim Clark claimed that the cop who killed Harris is not only completely innocent, but is in fact himself the victim.

"Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime. Reserve Deputy Bates was a victim, a true victim of slip and capture," Clark said. "There's no other determination I could come to."

By declaring the police officer who killed an unarmed Black man the "true victim," US police are only further verifying what civil rights leader Malcolm X warned about more than 50 years ago, in the early 1960s:

The police ... put their club upside your head and then turn around and accuse you of attacking them. Every case of police brutality against a Negro follows the same pattern. They attack you, bust you all upside your mouth and then take you to court and charge you with assault. What kind of democracy is that? What kind of freedom is that? What kind of social or political system is it when a black man has no voice in court? Has nothing on his side other than what the white man chooses to give you?

My brothers and sisters we have to put a stop to this and it will never be stopped until we stop it ourselves.

They attack the victim and then the criminal who attacked the victim accuses the victim of attacking him. This is American justice. This is American democracy, and those of you who are familiar with it know that, in America, democracy is hypocrisy.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a freelance journalist and writer based in New York City. His work has been published in a variety of outlets. You can find his website at BenNorton.com. He tweets at @BenjaminNorton.


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Police Sergeant Says Cop Who Killed Unarmed Eric Harris Is a "True Victim"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 By Ben Norton, Truthout | Op-Ed
  • font size decrease font size decrease font size increase font size increase font size
  • Print

In an undated handout photo, Robert Bates, a part-time reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department in Oklahoma, who fatally shot a suspect, Eric Harris. (Photo: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office via The New York Times) In an undated handout photo, Robert Bates, a part-time reserve deputy with the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department in Oklahoma, who fatally shot a suspect, Eric Harris. (Photo: Tulsa County Sheriff's Office via The New York Times) Eric Harris was pulled to the ground by several police officers. An officer then shot Harris while he was facedown. As the unarmed man lay dying, he wailed in terror "Oh God, he shot me!" and "I'm losing my breath!"

Cops, after yelling "Motherf***er!" at him, replied angrily, shouting "Shut the f*** up!" and "F*** your breath!" Another officer violently pushed his knee into Harris' face as life quickly left his body.

Video was captured of the incident.

After Harris was killed, Sheriff's Capt. Billy McKelvey claimed the shooting was "an inadvertent mistake."

Many Americans are not buying this explanation, pointing out that, if police murdering unarmed Black Americans was truly "an inadvertent mistake," it would not happen almost every single day. In the 102 days from January 1 to April 12, 2015, US police killed at least 325 people - at a rate of more than three people per day. These victims are disproportionately people of color.

In the wake of the Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing - just one in a wave of police shootings of unarmed Black Americans - Police Sgt. Jim Clark claimed that the cop who killed Harris is not only completely innocent, but is in fact himself the victim.

"Reserve Deputy Bates did not commit a crime. Reserve Deputy Bates was a victim, a true victim of slip and capture," Clark said. "There's no other determination I could come to."

By declaring the police officer who killed an unarmed Black man the "true victim," US police are only further verifying what civil rights leader Malcolm X warned about more than 50 years ago, in the early 1960s:

The police ... put their club upside your head and then turn around and accuse you of attacking them. Every case of police brutality against a Negro follows the same pattern. They attack you, bust you all upside your mouth and then take you to court and charge you with assault. What kind of democracy is that? What kind of freedom is that? What kind of social or political system is it when a black man has no voice in court? Has nothing on his side other than what the white man chooses to give you?

My brothers and sisters we have to put a stop to this and it will never be stopped until we stop it ourselves.

They attack the victim and then the criminal who attacked the victim accuses the victim of attacking him. This is American justice. This is American democracy, and those of you who are familiar with it know that, in America, democracy is hypocrisy.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a freelance journalist and writer based in New York City. His work has been published in a variety of outlets. You can find his website at BenNorton.com. He tweets at @BenjaminNorton.


Hide Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus