I'm not going to go in with the usual commentary (how sad is that we have "the usual commentary" on this subject?), but I do have some words.
1 - No. If we didn't have this video, Michael Slager would not have been charged. So stop asking. If we're going to have a meaningful dialogue (there's that word again), that would require actual meaningful dialogue. Asking over and over whether or not this video "makes all the difference" is not meaningful. Of course, this video makes all the damn difference. Slager justified the killing with a bald-faced lie and would've been successful had it not been for this video.
So instead, let's ask more important questions, like how can Slager ever so calmly and deliberately kill a human being, then simply go on with his life? A lot of white commenters keep describing Scott's murder as "shocking" and "horrifying" and "chilling."
For brown people, it's Wednesday.
2 - No. This video doesn't guarantee justice. Don't get me wrong, it's a powerful video, but even its power has limits. Eric Garner was strangled to death for all the world - literally all the world - to see, and his family ain't seen justice yet.
3 - Even if tried and convicted, there will be no death penalty. Even as we speak, gears are in motion, strategies are reforming hellbent on saving Slager's life. That's what the system's designed to do in these situations. The video presented a hiccup in the system, but a mere hiccup nonetheless.
The system was built to adapt to hiccups.
Fox legal analyst Arhtur Aidala told the Fox & Friends troika Wednesday morning that planting a weapon on a victim, as Officer Michael Slager is apparently seen to do to Walter Scott in a video released last night, used to be par for the course.4 - Of course Scott was running from Slager. I'm not surprised at all. People keep saying that if "people" (read: black people) just stopped running from cops, mouthing off cops, and disobeying cops, we'd have nothing to fear. First off, right there, you know that comment is coming from either a member of the New Black Society (and thus shielded by their wealth and fame privilege), or a white person who's simply never had a nasty interaction with the cops. 'Cause it only takes that one experience to change your view of the police forever.
“When I was in the DA’s office in the 80s and 90s, that was standard operating procedures,” Aidala said. “Police officers — I hate to say this — would keep a second gun that nobody knew about on their ankle, so if they ever killed someone they shouldn’t have they would take that gun out –”
“That was before the iPhone and that would not be allowed,” co-host Brian Kilmeade quickly interjected. (Several state legislatures are trying to make it illegal to film police officers, but hey.) (Source)
The police should be mature, disciplined, focused, and well-trained enough to handle mouthy teenagers, suspects fleeing on foot, and unarmed, defenseless civilians in general. That's how you earn the trust of a community and the respect for your badge - through professionalism, hard work, and humility. The badge doesn't automatically grant you respect. That has to be earned, and right now in America, respect for the police is at an all-time low.
If a cop can't deal with an unarmed, skinny 17-year-old during a traffic stop without tasing him into a coma, that cop has no business being in uniform. If a cop can't simply investigate a 12-year-old playing alone with a toy gun, he has no business being in uniform (especially if he's already been kicked out of said uniform once before). If a group of cops can't deal with one 22-year-old cosplayer, armed only with a toy samurai sword and an afro, they have no business being in uniform.
And if a 33-year-old cop can't chase down and tackle a fleeing 50-year-old on foot, he has no business being uniform.
How can we trust you in a crisis if you can't handle the day-to-day? How can we look to your guidance and leadership during the next building fire or bomb threat or citywide evacuation, when you're killing 18-year-olds for jaywalking???
5 - "Human" is a relative term.
“There’s going to be no sympathy for this police officer, except for the fact that it’s a 33-year-old human being who is getting paid $40,000 to protect his own life and protect everyone else’s life,” Aidala said. “Nobody thinks this cop woke up that morning and said let me go kill somebody. He made split second decisions and they were wrong. Obviously he made wrong decisions. It’s going to be about, in my opinion, how much jail time does he serve.” (Source - see previous quote)Quite frankly, I believe that the ability to murder with impunity is what draws so many people to the military and the police force in the first place. Slager had a civilian running away from him and didn't hesitate to pull out his gun and fire eight times. No blinking, no batting an eyelash, no hands shaking. No puking afterward, no going into shock. Didn't even hesitate to cuff the corpse afterward, acting as though between him and his victim, he'd been inconvenienced the most (think Peter Liang texting his union rep over Akai Gurley's dead body).
Please...people like that wake up every morning and hope they get to kill someone. Isn't that why George Zimmerman kept applying to the police force and appointed himself the neighborhood watchman?
6 - Power + Privilege = Enormous Responsibility. At least...that's how that equation is supposed to go. Cops and their supporters are always talking about how dangerous the job is and how every day could be their last. They all paint the same rosy cliche of men strapping on their boots and kissing their wives goodbye in the morning (because for some reason, they're all hetero, implied-white males who are underpaid yet can somehow afford to have stay-at-home wives raising their multiple children).
If you recall, "On the macro level, in the United States police work is not included in the top 10 most dangerous professions. Sanitation workers, truck drivers, forestry workers, and professional fisherman are far more likely to be killed or injured on the job than police."
That's why along with body cameras, we need to put an end to the fat, bloated, donut-eating cops who mainly just collect paychecks. Firemen have to stay fit and they are engaged less often than cops, therefore cops need to also be required to stay fit, able to chase down suspects and neutralize them with martial arts rather than running a few feet, stopping to pant, then pulling out a gun. Take away all that military equipment and replace it with a gym at every precinct. The money will be much better spent, I assure you.
Secondly, we need to abolish administrative leave. No more paid vacation for killing taxpayers. The very notion is atrocious. Cops need to know that if a civilian dies, there goes their paycheck, pending investigation. It will resume - non-retroactively - when the officer is cleared of all charges beyond all doubt. We also need to pass a law which bars cops from receiving donations until they are cleared of all charges, and even then the state should still take 20% off the top to cover the expenses of the investigation. If the FBI/DOJ has to get involved, there goes another 20%.
Lastly, I don't even support the death penalty, but with power and privilege come enormous responsibility, thus the abuse of power should carry an enormous sentence. I hope this goes to trial and I hope the family of Walter Scott leaves the death penalty option on the table. I get why James Anderson's family appealed to the court to not execute his murderers, but we can't "advocate for change" while doing the same thing over and over again.
I am tired of the Forgiving Negro routine; I think we need to bury it back in the 20th Century where that bullshit belongs. Like I said before, the old methods will not work here. You cannot love this enemy; song and prayer will not help you overcome. You have to adopt an entirely different attitude with these people.
So I'm going to end this post by stating unequivocally that Michael Slager should be tried, convicted, and publicly executed for all the world to see. Whatever "off switch" people like him have when they're killing brown people apparently needs to be shocked back into the "on" position. People like Slager need to know once and for all that causing grievous injury to brown people can actually result in their own "justifiable homicides". We need cameras in that execution chamber come the day; we need every major network to broadcast it live. We all need to watch the light go out of his eyes. We then need police departments to regularly show the execution as a polite reminder to their staff.
Make those three changes and cops will gladly start keeping brown civilians alive by any means necessary.