On the third call to do something about Walter Wallace, two cops killed him as he approached them with the knife he refused to drop. Protests, riots and looting followed, as did attacks on the cops deployed to stop them, including one officer run down by a pickup truck. The usual round of rationalizations followed, from Wolf Blitzer wondering why cops can’t just shoot to wound to contentions that, had Wallace been white, cops wouldn’t have killed him because reasons.
This isn’t a new scenario, and we’ve heard the arguments proffered to justify the protests, riots and looting.
The problem, on what would once have been considered the eve of a presidential election, but with mail-in and early voting no longer counts, is that the shooting was not merely lawful under the Reasonably Scared Cop Rule, but sadly sensible. That Wallace was bipolar, his family says, doesn’t change the tip of his knife entering a human body.
Sure, at this point in time, it’s expected that government officials, media and reformers indulge in fantasy solutions like shooting Wallace in the leg or bringing in a mental health person to face down a knife-wielding guy and either talk him off the ledge, something his mother couldn’t do, or be the dead body for the cause.
But what cannot happen is the perpetuation of either the fantasy fixes or violence, destruction and looting. And on the eve, kinda, of trial, while stores were looted and bricks were thrown at cops, the question was what would Joe Biden have to say about it.*
Our hearts are broken for the family of Walter Wallace Jr., and for all those suffering the emotional weight of learning about another Black life in America lost. We cannot accept that in this country a mental health crisis ends in death. It makes the shock and grief and violence of yesterday’s shooting that much more painful, especially for a community that has already endured so much trauma. Walter Wallace’s life, like too many others’, was a Black life that mattered — to his mother, to his family, to his community, to all of us.
Wallace was 27 years old. An Uber Eats driver and a rapper, he was expecting his ninth child. His life mattered like every life mattered. but not enough for anyone in his family to help him when he wasn’t wielding a knife.
At the same time, no amount of anger at the very real injustices in our society excuses violence. Attacking police officers and vandalizing small businesses, which are already struggling during a pandemic, does not bend the moral arc of the universe closer to justice. It hurts our fellow citizens. Looting is not a protest, it is a crime. It draws attention away from the real tragedy of a life cut short.
The reaction to Biden’s statement from the social justice left was predictable, that he doesn’t get it and doesn’t care about black lives, that he’s worthless to the cause.
Hopefully these folks already voted … pic.twitter.com/elkOzLK9wM
— Andy Grewal (@AndyGrewal) October 27, 2020
We’re all well aware of the pain and outrage in the black community over police racism, even if this was hardly the shooting that screams murder. That no longer carries any resonance; police can’t kill a black person without protests, riots and looting to follow. This is a needle that can’t be threaded anymore.
And beyond condemnation of this reaction, and condemnation by the radical left for condemnation of rioting, looting, attacking police and destroying businesses, what did Biden have to offer?
As a nation, we are strong enough to both meet the challenges of real police reform, including implementing a national use of force standard, and to maintain peace and security in our communities. That must be our American mission. That is how we will deliver real justice.
We are all praying for the entire Wallace family, and for our nation, that we may move toward healing.
Thoughts and prayers? Empty rhetoric? The closest he came to an actual thought is a “national use of force standard,” which is neither within his power as president nor a solution to the problem that no cop can kill a black person without this reaction, regardless of the propriety of the use of force.
As the left is outraged by Biden’s response, certain now that he’s no better than Trump lite and must be destroyed as soon as he rids them of Darth Cheeto, if not sooner, we are staring at a scenario that can’t be sustained. We cannot be left with the choice between riots and looting or black people untouchable by cops, left to do as they please wrapped in the litany of excuses about “systemic racism.” This is not a survivable future.
Yet again, it’s critical to note that there are serious problems of persistent racism that need to be addressed, and serious problems of systemic failure in the legal system demanding solutions. But we’re walking further away from viable solutions as we indulge in lies about the causes and reject the reality on the street.
If Wallace, mentally ill though he may have been, had come at you with a knife, would you die rather than have the police shoot him? We can proffer all the fantasy excuses available, but at the moment this guy, regardless of his race, regardless of the pain he suffered as a black man in America, regardless of his mental illness, put his knife into your body, what would any person do about it?
Thoughts and prayers might be enough of an answer for Biden to win the election, even if the left abandons him for being barely less racist than Trump, but it solves nothing. The problem isn’t that there aren’t ways to address racism, to address the failure of the legal and mental health systems, but that they aren’t the solutions either side is willing to do the hard work of thinking about and implementing.
Instead, they come up with excuses for guys with arms filled with Air Jordans looted from Footlocker while Biden offers his tepid palliative words that no one wants to hear, no one cares about and no one believes. Ironically, the cops who killed Wallace didn’t have Tasers on their belts. The police budget was cut and they could no longer afford them, which wasn’t a big deal because less-lethal weapons are now more evil because they’re used with greater frequency against protesters. So Wallace was killed and riots followed, as they do every time.
This can’t go on, and Biden can’t end it. He’s not Trump, but what is he?
*No one wonders what Trump would say, as it would be no more cogent than anything he’s ever had to say, and mindlessly lethal.