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If You Fight With a Cop, Why Shouldn't the Cop Shoot You?

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In Anna Merlan's coverage of the disturbance last night at Dixon and Bourquin streets about a mile and a half southeast of Fair Park, one particular scenario leapt out. People in the crowd defended the man who was shot to death by police after a running fight with the officer who shot him. Their defense was that, as a parolee, the man probably was not armed and probably was not involved with hard drugs but only marijuana.

Merlan's report: "He had 10 years of parole," said a woman in the crowd who gave her name only as "Ebony." She said she was a first cousin of Harper's. "So he can't carry weapons. We know for a fact he was unarmed." Several people in the crowd said the house was a "weed house," and didn't sell other drugs.

There's historical context here. In 1967 when my own hometown of Detroit erupted in flames and bullets, civic leaders seriously debated whether the disturbances there should be called a riot, which was taken by many as a pejorative and dismissive white term, or an uprising, a word freighted with centuries of grievance.

That was half a century ago. I'm not saying we are done with racism now. That would be a stupid thing to say. But in Dallas the police chief is black. A whole bunch of cops are black. The elected representatives of that part of town at City Hall are black.

We may not be done with racism, but the day is long gone when you could offer any even remotely reasonable defense of a guy who fights with a cop. This isn't about the civil rights movement. This is about us, all of us, sticking badges on cops and telling them to go out and take bullets for us because we don't want to ourselves.

I'm not calling us cowards. But c'mon. Common decency and honor says that if you put another man or woman in the position, then you have to get his back when the position turns deadly.

You've got a parolee. He's running from a drug scene. Multiple witnesses say he hit that cop. Hit him. Fought with him. Refused to surrender. Didn't stop fighting with the cop.

You got a dead man.

He was dead, in terms of his right to keep living, the instant he hit that cop. There is no right to fight with a cop. If you hit a cop and keep hitting that cop, I think it's that cop's duty to shoot you, if that's the only way to make you stop fighting.

The man was not unarmed. Let me tell you that for a fact. Even if they scour that neighborhood and never find a gun, there was a gun. There was the cop's gun. When you fight with a cop, there is always a gun.

So the guy with a record as long as his arm fights with the cop and finally wins the fight. Beats the cop down. What happens next?

It's just the two of them in some backyard. The parolee from the weed-house-not-a-real-drug-house is standing over the conked-out cop. He takes the gun. He shoots the cop. Hey, maybe there's a witness. Maybe the guy shoots the witness too.

No? Why no? How do you know that? How does the cop know that? Why is the cop supposed to take that gamble? How is it even responsible for the cop to take that gamble?

The whole idea is so tragically absurd -- that there is some proper and sportsmanlike way to get out of prison and hang around a weed-house-not-a-drug house and run from the cops and then beat on a cop, but you're "unarmed," so they're not allowed to shoot you. It's so bullshit crazy.

They're allowed to shoot you. They're supposed to shoot you. If you are not in favor of getting shot, don't beat on a cop.

Don't even argue with the cop. Do exactly what the fuck the cop tells you to do. It just doesn't go anywhere else from that.

This is not a problem specific to Dixon and Bourquin streets. It's some kind of societal stupid that we all seem to suffer from.

A month ago WFAA made a big deal out of a white motorcycle imbecile who was pulled over when the cops were policing one of those wheelie-fest freeway riots. I'm talking about those bike riots that the motorcycle imbeciles do out on the expressway so they can have fun risking the lives of children and old people.

The guy they pulled over was shown on camera trying to have some kind of imbecile version of a constitutional law debate with the cop who pulled him over, and then David Schechter, the reporter, acts like he's covering a mass atrocity in Bosnia because the cop grabs the imbecile by the head and gives him a good shove into the squad car. I watch this endless loop on television for several days, and every time they get to that part, I'm cheering for the cop: "Use your foot! Use your foot, man!"

That may or may not have been a righteous arrest. I really don't know. It sounded as if it might not have been. They busted the guy to get his hat cam for evidence. I'm very sensitive to hat-cam issues. I think maybe the Second Amendment says we have a right to wear hat-cams, or some amendment.

But you settle that shit in court. On the street, you shut the hell up, and you do exactly what that cop tells you to do. The minute you swing your damn shoulders around all tough-guy, the instant you offer physical resistance, or even if you just run your mouth loud enough, you are launching into a process that may end with your going for the cop's gun.

That's how it is. That is the assumption the cop must make. It's the assumption we as a community must make. There's no way out of it. And if you do go for the cop's gun? Well, we all hope the cop shoots you instead of you shoot the cop. Right? Right?

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