Victim Blaming and Violence Shaming

Ohio Police Chief Scott Hughes penned an article for Calibre Press, aggregated through Blue Lives Matter, titled Milwaukee – Truth About Violence bashing Black Lives Matter for supporting violence against police officers and shaming black Milwaukee residents for their reaction to years of oppression.

Hughes frames the #MilwaukeeUprising as a conspiracy between protesters, the media, and politicians to encourage violence and resistance against police. He asks the question:

What does burning down a gas station and looting convenience stores have to do with an apparent justified shooting of a known felon who is armed with a gun? 

From Ferguson in 2014 to Baltimore in 2015, the question has been used to discredit the rational resistance to state oppression expressed by exploited black and brown communities. Without the riots, the City of Baltimore would not have expediated the trials of the six officers involved in Freddy Gray’s death.

A man who claims to be the brother of Milwaukee shooting victim Syville Smith told local media that black residents don’t see the city as their community. The looting and burning of banks and bourgeois symbols of gentrification are both attacks on white supremacist infrastructure as well as methods for the black community to expropriate the wealth that has been stolen from them through racist for-profit police practices.

Milwaukee is the worst place to be black in the United States. The level of segregation, exploitation, and humiliation by the Milwaukee PD and white community left black residents with no option but to rise up.

Scott Hughes continues his defamation by accusing Black Lives Matter activists for always crying foul even when evidence suggests that certain black men shot by police were armed. In an ominous statement he warns black people:

If you have a weapon and run from the police you dramatically increase your chances of forcing the officer to use force. The odds are increased even more if you turn toward the officer.

Ohio is an open-carry state meaning that even if Syville Smith’s weapon was illegal, officers should not have assumed that he was committing a crime. Smith was targeted because he was black. Furthermore, black and brown people have a right to self-defense against racist violence of all forms. Just as white Americans are allowed to own guns, black Americans also should be able to own these weapons without the racist double standard.

Hughes then goes on to invoke MLK to make a cynical observation about violence:

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.” True and beautiful words. But out on the street, an officer deals with not just hate. We deal with violence, and the only way to overcome violence is superior violence. It’s an ugly truth that most cops know first hand but most in the public, understandably, like to avoid. Violence comes quick and nasty.

Hughes’ statement shows the general underlying mentality of policing. Police view their interactions with communities through an Us vs Them lens. They feel that they are unfairly targeted and assaulted by communities sympathetic to gangs and criminal activity. In reality, their war to clean up the streets translates to a war to inflict violence on black bodies. Hughes’ superior violence solution to deal with imagined violence against officers ignores the power disparity between police and black communities. It doesn’t matter if a few cops are assaulted, they will always have more bodies, more equipment, more advanced firepower and surveillance technologies. Any violence that blows back at the police will never be on par with the level of violence the police inflict on black communities.

Scott Hughes offers tactical trainings for law enforcement specializing in street survival, combat tactics in traffic, and an advanced patrol course called The Warrior’s Edge. It’s clear from his professional background that Hughes represents the worst aspects of American police militarization. The willingness in which he accepts these assumptions reveals his racist police superiority complex. Hughes is further equipping police departments across the country with tactics of war based on gross mischaracterizations of entire communities.

If the police are responding to recent unrest with increased military tactics, then black and brown people should keep flexing their Second Amendment rights.