I’m no expert on political stances that unemployed NFL quarterbacks should embrace on Twitter to ensure that they have a chance to play in the league again, but comparing modern day police officers to slave catchers probably isn’t helpful.
Yet that’s exactly what Colin Kaepernick did yesterday in the wake of a jury verdict he disagreed with. Yesterday a Hispanic police officer who shot Philandro Castile in Minnesota last summer was found not guilty of all charges by a jury.
Then Kaepernick Tweeted this:
A system that perpetually condones the killing of people, without consequence, doesn’t need to be revised, it needs to be dismantled! pic.twitter.com/BVVPVZIQyD
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) June 16, 2017
Twelve people sat on this jury for two weeks, including one black woman and one black man. Presumably nearly 17% of that jury, a larger population of black people than exists in the country at large, were not racist against black people and presupposed to support police violence against minorities. Yet this jury, which spent two weeks reviewing all evidence instead of watching a video online for two minutes, unanimously agreed that the police officer in this case was not guilty on all charges.
And whether you agree with this jury decision or not, it’s definitely fair to say that this jury decision was much braver than convicting the police officer of all charges. That is, the mob of people demanding justice in this case were not supporting the police officer so the easiest possible decision by this jury would have been to find this defendant guilty and exit the jury chamber as heroes.
As any lawyer will tell you, convincing 12 people to support a unanimous verdict of innocence when the entire state’s power is arrayed against your client is not an easy task.
So if you’re upset with anyone in this case, it should be the jury, not the police officer or the state or city government. The police officer was charged with multiple crimes and prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allowed. The state of Minnesota could not have done more here. But a 12 person jury did not believe this police officer was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This happens all the the time in criminal court rooms — being guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is a very high standard to meet when a defendant has excellent legal representation.
Notwithstanding the fact that most people on social media hadn’t spent two weeks reviewing all evidence and scrutinizing all witnesses — why review evidence when you’ve seen a two minute video online? — social media erupted in outrage. And Colin Kaepernick helped fuel the fire of this outrage with his incendiary comparison of modern day police to 19th century slave catchers. That Tweet has since been favorited or retweeted by nearly 50,000 people, proving, yet again, that nuanced discourse and intelligent thought does not triumph over rash and inaccurate distributions of fake news on social media.
It is, of course, a totally inaccurate Internet meme to compare modern day police officers to slave catchers since most police in American history never had anything to do with slavery. And the vast, vast majority of police officers today are not racist. But, of course, that doesn’t matter, social media isn’t designed to handle nuance or distribute truth, it’s about taking extreme positions and provoking reactions.
The simple truth of the matter is this — no one protects more black lives than the police in this country. If you doubt me, look at the murder rates in cities were black lives matter protesters have been the most active. In just about all of these cities the murder rate has skyrocketed as police have stopped aggressive policing designed to save mostly black lives. Because who kills the vast majority of black people in these cities where black lives matter activists have been the most active? It’s not the police, 93% of the time it’s black people killing other black people. When minorities protest police the result is not black lives mattering more, it’s more black people killed by other black people. It’s black lives mattering less.
The idea that police officers are waging war on black people and regularly killing innocent black victims is simply not true or supported by any statistical data. Police officer shootings are extremely rare and police remain far more likely to shoot white people than they are to shoot black people. And when you adjust police shooting data on a per capita basis to account for the fact that black people commit violent crimes at rates far in excess of their population, white people are more likely to be shot by police than black people even though they produce less crime per capita.
But all of this misses a larger point — getting shot by police in this country is really damn rare.
How rare? Bees, wasps, and hornets killed more unarmed people in 2016 than police did. If you are unarmed when you leave your house every morning you are five times as likely to be killed by a train and nearly as likely to be killed by lightning as you are shot and killed by police.
Are the police perfect?
Of course not.
But that’s why we have the opportunity for the state and federal governments to bring charges and allow juries to determine guilt or innocence.
You may not agree with a jury decision — and we all know that juries are imperfect because they are made up of humans, and we’re all imperfect — but the state of Minnesota prosecuted this case to the fullest extent of the law. The fact that a jury of 12 people, two of whom were black, unanimously agreed this officer was not guilty on all counts is not the fault of the police or the local government.
So for Colin Kaepernick, who worked out last year in socks picturing police as pigs and praised Fidel Castro while taking a knee for the national anthem, his decision to compare modern day police officers to slave catchers is likely to ensure that his NFL career is over. Say what you will about his protest before the national anthem, but this Tweet is far more incendiary and offensive to the vast majority of NFL fans than his protest even was.
If an NFL team wasn’t willing to employ him before this Tweet, why would any NFL team employ him now?
I believe that Colin Kaepernick’s NFL career is officially over.