I get why articles such as this consistently approach the stories from the "race" angle. I do get it, and it's certainly an important element. But an even more important element, which goes completely unmentioned, is that any cop who guns down an unarmed civilian taking groceries into their house is just not very good at their job, at all. In fact, they're really fucking bad at the job.
And when your job lets you literally get away with murder, that's a problem.
Clearly this Meade character is your standard Hollyweird issue high-toned-cowboy type. This is a problem, and it transcends race. Hell, I'm a middle-aged white married guy with a degree and a good job, and I look the part. And I wouldn't want to be pulled over or approached by that asshole.
Or these fuckers. What the hell is this shit? Why are we forced to pay people like this to terrorize citizens, indemnify them from their misdeeds, and foot the bill for the inevitable lawsuits? For what? Is anyone any safer because they made this kid roll his window down, and pepper-sprayed his father for filming the encounter (as is his legal right)?
Or you can visit Greg Doucette's Twitter feed, and dig back through the hundreds -- I'm sure it's well over a thousand by now -- of videos from all over the country, of militarized punks beating the shit out of unarmed citizens peacefully exercising their rights. He's got a new one up tonight, of a Vacaville cop holding his K-9 partner -- yes, a dog -- down and repeatedly punching the animal in the head.
It's an understatement to point out that this is precisely the mentality that needs to be identified and weeded out of all local law enforcement agencies now, not that it will happen. They'll give this scumbag some public slap on the wrist, transfer the dog to another cop -- who probably won't treat it that way; I've known several K-9 officers over the years, and they absolutely love and spoil their canine partners as much as possible -- put the human cop on some bullshit desk job for eighteen months until it all blows over, then put him back on the street with some rook that no one else wants to work with.
Then he cashes out at age fifty with ninety percent of his wages, starts some "security" side-hustle mostly to chase tail, maybe coaches pee-wee soccer for the same reason, and never experiences a moment where he has to think back on things he's done, people he victimized. If the guy's holding down a fuckin' trained Malinois and punching it, there's at least a few humans he's done the same to, and will again. Maybe his wife, maybe someone he pulled over for a seat-belt ticket got lippy with him, but someone. Count on it.
Anyone who's interested in this topic is probably already aware of the broader counter-arguments: the vast majority of cops are nothing like these bastards, yet that ninety-nine percent of "good" cops are constrained by the culture and the leadership of The Job, blah blah blah. and there's a lot of truth to all that. As with prison guards, when the nature of your job is dealing with assholes all day, it's only a matter of time before you just reflexively assume everyone is an asshole.
But I know this much -- if George Floyd was white, he'd still be alive. Ditto Breonna Taylor, and Philando Castile, and Eric Garner, and countless others. I know that the Minneapolis PD, and many other urban police departments, take a notorious "training" by the name of "Bulletproof Warrior," where the instructor basically trains cops to act and think as if they're IDF forces patrolling the Gaza Strip, dealing with suicide bombers and shoulder-launched missiles. That is not an exaggeration.
And until that stops, we're going to be doing this dance over and over again. And they don't just do it to minorities either -- don't forget about Daniel Shaver or Justine Damond. (Damond's killer, a cop of Somali descent, was eventually convicted of third-degree murder and manslaughter, and is currently serving a 12.5-year sentence. Shaver's murderer had the benefit of being tried in Arizona, and so walked away from his crime scot-free.)
So it is about race, but it's mostly about power, and what sort of people are allowed to exercise it, and what sort of judgment some of these people have, and the lack of accountability when that judgment proves tragically wrong. This used to be a redneck-south commonplace sort of thing, but many of the more noteworthy incidents in recent years have occurred in relatively liberal enclaves, run by Democratic city councils and mayors, in states with Democratic governors and senators.
"Defund the police" is an unrealistic goal; not only won't it happen, but it shouldn't happen. There are bad people out there, and you do need some sort of enforcement mechanism to protect the public. But there's a ton of stuff that can and should be done along that spectrum -- demilitarize; remove the army toys; better psych batteries to screen candidates; better and longer training periods (in some states it literally takes more hours to become a hairdresser than a cop); ending qualified immunity; insisting on real accountability.
Returning to the top link as an example, it doesn't really matter to me whether Jason Meade can be proven to be a racist or not. I mean, it's awful if he is a racist, but the deeper problem is that he's demonstrated -- repeatedly, as his record shows -- that he's unqualified for his job. We don't need these self-styled "avenging angel" cowboy-preacher types. This is not a fucking Gary Cooper movie, and the people that can't handle that fact need to find another line of work.
Nobody forces anybody to be a cop, so if someone's at the point where they feel it's too thankless and dangerous, well, as the free-marketeers always tell us, get out there and create the future you deserve.