Historical Attitude That Black Lives Are Expendable
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.” Ecclesiastes 1:9 – NIV
Have you ever been in an argument or debate with someone and mention what they did previously and their defense is that you are bringing up the past? When patterns or behaviors are repeated, and even current, the past is brought up to show a demonstrated pattern of conduct. The criminal justice system does it all the time.
In February 1991, 34 nations led by the United States successfully freed the people of Kuwait from Iraq’s invasion. American troops represented the spectrum of America, being all colors and genders. General Colin Powell was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and he was in interviews along with General Norman Schwarzkopf. They were perfect examples of the love of freedom for America and other countries. America’s military and the men who led it exemplified unity and the greatest of this country.
Less than one month after freeing Kuwait, on March 3, 1991, this nation and the world would see another side of America.
A Sony handheld camcorder captured the beating of Rodney King. The man who recorded the beating was ignored by the police and subsequently turned his video over to a local television station.
Following four days of grand jury testimony, on March 14, 1991, three Los Angeles police officers, Laurence Powell, Timothy Wind, and Theodore Briseno, were charged. A ranking officer at the scene, Sargent Stacey Koon, was charged with “willfully permitting and failing to take action to stop the unlawful assault.”
The jury of 10 Whites, 1 Latino and 1 Asian acquitted Koon, Wind, and Briseno. The same jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge against Powell.
Then Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley disagreed with the verdict, telling The New York Times that “the system failed us.” The day after the riots began, President George H. Bush asked the Department of Justice to look into charges against the officers for violating Rodney King’s civil rights.
President George H. Bush stated,
“What you saw and what I saw on the TV video was revolting. I felt anger. I felt pain. I thought: How can I explain this to my grandchildren?”
Today, we ask the same question, not about a video from 1991, but videos since then — maybe yesterday— or even today.
Many Black Lives Matter activists were not born until after the beating of Rodney King was recorded and the officers placed on trial and acquitted. I wonder if former President George H. Bush has any words for their parents and grandparents of how to explain the repeated pattern?