There’s been a lot of media coverage of the footage from Mckinney showing a police officer brutally throwing a young teenaged girl in a bikini to the ground and drawing his weapon. I mention the bikini because it underscores that she was absolutely no threat; it’s not like she could have been packing a concealed weapon. Just before I had to leave for work yesterday afternoon, I saw that Matt Walsh had apparently done his homework on the event and determined that the officer wasn’t really to blame: “even if I believe the officer was a little too emotionally charged,” concludes Walsh, “I still put the blame on the individuals who caused the disturbance, and so should you.”
What I found so stunning about Walsh’s article are the reasons he found so compelling that he would enjoin us all to share his opinion. Look at the footage: a very angry man, with a deadly weapon and plenty of training in how to use it, brutally subdues a young girl who’s clearly not capable of harming him. If I were the father of a young girl so roughly treated, I would definitely be seeking some reasons why this took place. So what reasons could be strong enough that we should be putting the blame not on the officer but on the victim of this excessive force?
Well, Matt himself summarizes his reasons on his Facebook post introducing his article. Below, I’ll copy and paste those reasons from his status using italics for his words, with some quick responses of my own interwoven in normal font.
Reason One: There were “100 teenagers with little adult supervision”
I’m glad school teachers or day care providers don’t think there’s an upper limit of children to be present in the vicinity before it becomes excusable to abuse any given one of them.
Reason Two: “In my experience — and I admit to having some experience — nearly every teenage party ends with the cops getting called. To categorize that as racism just because the teens were black is just ridiculous.”
Completely irrelevant. Do you think it would have made a difference to this girl if, while being slammed around and quite possibly fearing for her life, she was reassured that at least it wasn’t because of her race? A crime’s a crime, whether or not it’s racially motivated. Besides, anecdotal evidence has some limitations, dude. I’m sure we could find a white counterpart for every one of the crimes we’ve been seeing police officers committing against African Americans. But does the justice system disproportionately target and incarcerate minorities? What do the data say? That’s really a better approach to the question of race and law enforcement than excusing cops who mistreat African Americans by saying, “Well when I was a white boy the cops came after me too.”
Reason Three: It was “held without proper permission” and “According to many residents… it featured loud vulgar music, drugs, alcohol…”
Again, irrelevant to what happened to this one victim in particular. If it was a matter of searching for drugs or alcohol, where would she have been hiding them? In her bikini? What about her rights against warrantless search and seizure? If it was a matter of keeping the public peace then the response of singling out and roughing up this girl was a disproportionate act for keeping a bunch of rowdy kids in line. I don’t know what his definition of “vulgar” music is, but I’m glad we have a first amendment so we don’t all have to listen to his own preferred nonvulgar music (which I have a feeling might be a small sliver of the spectrum).
Reason Four: “many of the teens were not listening to or respecting these officers”
But if you’ve seen the footage, it’s hard to believe they posed any real threat of harm. Any officer who would react to that level of threat with that degree of unhinged aggression, especially with children involved, should probably be off the force. Will he be able to control himself next time or will someone’s son or daughter finally be injured or killed?
Reason Five: “Some of these people were over the age of 18. The woman who organized the event is 20.”
But the victim wasn’t twenty, so I don’t care if there were supercentenarians there. What the officer did to that girl is still not justifiable. Besides, now he’s making it seem like it would have been ok to do that to a twenty year old.
These are seriously the reasons Matt Walsh has for urging us all to share his opinion in blaming the victim of this unnecessary roughness. I don’t find them compelling. Somehow, I doubt she or her family finds them compelling either.
What I find most disturbing is how quick he is to dehumanize her. This is about the girl. She’s the clear victim here. I keep expecting him to talk about her, but instead he just keeps talking about them, the others, the riff raff, the horde of rowdy young teenagers whose presence somehow makes this a faceless incident and a justified act of aggression. How quick is he to forget that a real, angry, and dangerous man is lashing out at a real young girl with a face and a personality and a family who love her, and to focus on how it was ok because she was one of the riff raff. That’s not ok. She’s a person! No, Matt, that trained police officer is responsible for his own troubling actions, no matter how many teenagers and twenty year olds were there pissing him off. And no, I shouldn’t blame the crowd for what one dangerous man did to one vulnerable girl. Neither should you.
P.S. I’m glad to see that the police force involved seems to be taking the officer’s out-of-line actions more seriously than Matt Walsh would.