1. BART Shooting (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
It has made national news. The shooting of an unarmed man by police the night of New Years Eve (Day technically) has been all over the internet recently. It is obvious that the officer made a HUGE error and now mobs of people are calling for his head.
There really is no excuse since those officers are equipped with Taser guns. However, I have to point out that those guys were resisting arrest and started the problem in the first place. It is not an excuse to be killed execution style but it would behoove San Francisco/Oakland to offer some modicum of support for it’s police force which it is not doing now.
The job of being a police officer on BART is one I would definitely not want to have. The BART is ok during daylight hours and with crowds but is full of very shady individuals at night. Further, in the video one can easily see that the crowd there was taunting the officers and it might be a wise idea to NOT resist arrest. Yet, in the protest culture that defines SF, Oakland and many other Bay Area cities, the media is afraid to point out the extreme conditions the officers were working in. It is still no excuse for what happened but it would be good to let people know that resisting arrest is not acceptable either.
So, now we have protests where people have been damaging property and setting things on fire. The core group stresses that they want to be peaceful but good luck with that. There was a huge protest last night at various BART stations to follow up with the violent one in Oakland. Now Oakland will have another protest on Wednesday which they claim want to be peaceful but I think it is safe to say unless the police do a good job it will turn violent.
Again, the officer made a HUGE error and should go through the justice system. But it is the amount of attention this is receiving relative to other events in the world that really bother me. Apparently, there will be protests in other cities around the nation, for this one individual who had been fighting, resisted arrest and then met a bad end. Yet, what about the citizens of Gaza of whom 1000 have been killed. To me, this should cause more of an outrage. Apparently it is more important to protest a rogue police officer who made a mistake then the killing of 1000 (many women and children) intentionally.
In the Contra Costa times one individual says “I hope city officials see the citizens of Oakland and citizens all over the world, aren’t going to rest until they see justice done.” To me, citizens all over the world should be paying attention to Gaza more than one who got in a fight and resisted arrest.
Again, there is no excuse for what the officer did, but then again I would not want to be a police officer in Oakland, nor on the BART. People should be allowed to vent their frustrations (not burn down property) and the city should also give a bit more support to their police force.
2. International perspective
In light of the violence (the fight and the shooting) I must point out again that in the hopes of correcting many Americans views about the rest of the world that I felt much safer in SE Asia/Japan. I had no fear of being out late at night in Saigon and Cambodia, but here can sense the danger is much greater. To make my point very clear, aside from the violence on BART, the owner of Sushi-Man restaurant which is four doors down from me was murdered last week. I really cannot recall anyone I even remotely knew being murdered in either Japan or Vietnam.
Here, there are a lot of people that seem to be very angry all the time (especially when driving). There are murders pretty much every day but again, I cannot recall this happening in SE Asia. As for drugs, they were nil in Japan and very scarce in Vietnam but here they can be bought almost anywhere.
This is not a huge criticism of SF as much as it may seem and I still really love this city but I just wanted to point out the above in the hopes of letting people know that the rest of the world is actually much safer then home even if the Bush administration has tried their best to convince people otherwise. In Asia, I received smiles from just about everyone, whereas here, never,,, unless of course they want to sell me something. I think I received around 4 total smiles in three years of living here from people I passed by, but I’m pretty sure they must have been from the Midwest. 🙂