Eco-activists benefit from white privilege. Black protesters get gas & tasers.

For a long time I was not a fan of the “white privilege” concept. But years of evidence proved me wrong. Stories like this “Bristol DA drops charges, says protesters were right“, Boston Globe, 8 September 2014 — Excerpt:

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield
We should have listened to them

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Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter knew the law. He also understood the threats posed by climate change. So for days he grappled with what to do about the two environmental activists facing criminal charges for blocking a 40,000-ton coal shipment last year to the Brayton Point power plant in Somerset.

Just as the trial was about to begin Monday, Sutter decided to drop all charges. Then, in a dramatic appearance at Fall River District Court, he said he empathized with the stance of Ken Ward and Jay O’Hara, who said they were acting to reduce harm to the planet when they used the lobster boat Henry David T. to block the shipment to the coal-burning plant.

“Because of my sympathy with their position, I was in a dilemma,” Sutter said afterward. “I have a duty to go forward to some extent with this case and to follow the applicable case law, but they were looking for a forum to present their very compelling case about climate change.” He added: “I do believe they’re right, that we’re at a crisis point with climate change.”

Protests by Blacks are met by tear gas and tasers. They’re arrested, with no mercy from DA’s. Protests by affluent whites often get respectful treatment by the DA.

This is the equivalent, conceptually, of the police killing a black man holding a gun in a Walmart — while open carry demonstrations by nice white folk get deferential treatment by police. As we saw when the Texas chapter of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America (MDA) was terrorized by “Open Carry Texas”, after which the Open Carry group sent MDA an email:

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Lady Justice by Roswell Ivory
She looks angry. By Roswell Ivory at DeviantArt.

“We had a great time today walking through San Antonio with our semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. The best part was that the reaction was very positive and supportive. People are “getting used” to seeing and being around guns and police have come to accept it and don’t even question us anymore. What we are doing is working and society is coming to view the sight of “military style rifles” in public as just another normal thing. Isn’t that a good thing?”

The Forbes article describes the legality of this protest.

While Texas permits licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons, Texas does not permit the open carry of guns, except for long guns that are not being used in a menacing way (added). Indeed, it is the desire to change this law that the Open Carry Texas group is all about. Accordingly, Open Carry’s chosen method to make its point and preferences known is not only to break the law but to severely frighten unarmed people in the process.

Since then the Texas Open Carry movement has become bolder in their intimidation of opponents (examples here and  here). No police push-back in these reports.

For a richer example, see the deferential response of the Federal agencies to Clive Bundy’s law-breaking. Such things take place on a different planet than the events on the streets of Ferguson.

I wonder if we’re going in the right direction with respect to race relations in America. Social cohesion is a vital strength of nations. It might be essential for us to have if we’re to prosper against the challenges that lie ahead. We have to try harder.

For More Information

Posts about racism:

  1. The pilgrimage of Martin Luther King: an antidote to our amnesia about America’s history, 14 September 2013
  2. A harsh clear look at the history of the Republican Party, 22 September 2013
  3. Congress did a great thing 50 years ago, but rot from that day has spread and taken root, 26 June 2014

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18 thoughts on “Eco-activists benefit from white privilege. Black protesters get gas & tasers.

  1. The mass media hides black crime by calling black criminals ‘youths’ and ‘teens’. Black riots are exploding across the country, and no one but the internet calls them out for it.

    White privilege is bullshit talk to disempower whites. C’mon Fabius, you can do better than that.

  2. Blocking a coal shipment does not equate to rioting and looting. Not even close. Calling that white privilege when one is a nonviolent breaking of the law in order to create a forum for discussion of climate change versus hundreds of African Americans driving, in some cases hundreds of miles to break $h!t in the name of protest is utterly ridiculous.

    1. Considering the increasing number of incidents where people are shot by police for no valid reason — often followed by lies in the official records — I find your values quite strange.

      But then, that’s the point. Black people being in effect executed vs whites protesting about restrictions on open carry and forecasts of global warming — we see which concerns you more.

      Thank you for the additional evidence. First person testimony is much more convincing.

    2. Non violence does not equate to violence. If white people were acting in the same way as those in Ferguson I would expect exactly the same response, and while I don’t think we need to go to a military police state I think what’s sauce for the goose should be sauce for the gander.

      Please. Call me racist if you must, talk about white privilege regarding me if you must. You don’t know my history, nor my philosophy. Personal responsibility is sadly lacking in this country, apparently by you as well if you are going to put those two monikers on me as proof of your conclusion. You could try others as proof of your case you know, there are cases of whites being killed by cops for no good reason, you could have used one of those to bolster your argument. It might have been a stronger argument if you had. This particular example though, not a good one. The prosecutor admitted specifically he didn’t prosecute in order to deny them a platform for their argument. Not because they were white.

    3. Tin foil,

      “Call me a racist if you must”

      I didn’t and don’t. Your fantasizing. Making stuff up is the weakest of responses.

      As is your interpretation of events in Ferguson. The initial protests were peaceful, but met with an violent response by a militarized police force. Violence resulted, as it always does from all but highly disciplined groups. This is the utility of aggressive police response — the targets will put themselves in the wrong by rioting in response. People like you close their odds to the initial shooting and police response — and condemn the rioters only.

      The rest of your comment is gibberish. How do you know the role of race in the DA’s thinking? He certainly wasn’t going to say “these are people like me, so they get a pass on their crimes.” His actions speak loudest.

      Sad. But I hope America will grow beyond people like you, over time.

    4. The ship, though only delayed a day, had operating costs attached. Not just salary for the crew, but re-scheduling costs. Had the delay been a week without intervention you are possibly talking about having to shut down the power-plant (more costs), rebalancing of the grid (more costs, even having to buy power), and then restart costs. All this entails looting (costs), which will be passed on to the consumer. I am not saying doing the right thing is wrong, but normally everyone knows and agrees what the right thing is. It is wrong to loot and riot, no scientist ever has to publish a study for you to understand that. They (the boat people) must have been well aware of the cost and curtailed it to minimize their liability. This is a coldly calculated political farce.

    5. Sparrow,

      To expand your point, this is a signal that this kind of protest will not be punished. It is a green light for more of them.

      I doubt we will see such effective action to reduce the unjustified shooting of minorities by police — and in stand your ground states, by white people.

      By the actions of the State we show our values.

    6. Yes, minor infractions that are low cost (i.e. prosecution versus value damage costs) will most likely be encouraged by this. Unfortunately they will escalate (they always tend to, something about rolling stones, moss or no moss, will eventually will hit someone’s head) and the innocent will pay the cost.

  3. FM,

    Judging by the first three comments, your post will be a very interesting Petri dish for the topic at hand. I will ‘enjoy’ the ride.

  4. Exactly right, furthermore, the DA was coldly fiscally and political calculating when his staff informed him of the cost of prosecuting. No doubt reelection sprang to mind and in it was thousands of screaming greenies turning him into jack the ripper on the national networks. Election time is right around the corner after all.

    1. Sparrow,

      You touch on another important factor: class power. Prosecution of the affluent is inherently cheaper and easier more expensive and difficult than the poor — who are often bludgeoned into plea bargains no matter their innocence or guilt.

      Not only do the affluent — and agents of their causes — have well-funded legal teams, but their crimes are often more complex. And, as seen here, they are “just folks” to the nice white affluent people whose money and votes tend to decide elections.

      Plus, as you mention, they have the money and connnections to run powerful publicity campaigns.

    2. “Prosecution of the affluent is inherently cheaper and easier”

      Do you mean “inherently more expensive and more difficult”?

    3. “Prosecution of the affluent is inherently cheaper and easier than the poor — who are often bludgeoned into plea bargains no matter their innocence or guilt.”
      I believe he meant just that, the affluent use their resources to pull a prosecution’s case apart and they get off cheaper because the stiffness of the penalty is either modest, or non-existent. Time of an individual’s life is so precious that any monetary value system’s appraisal is illusionary. How much will you sell a month of your life for?

    4. Let me expand a bit, perhaps it was too brief. An affluent person or group being prosecuted shows the DA just enough of the cards in their hand that the DA’s office can make a very reasonable assessment of cost as well as the calculated possibility of losing the case. This is weighed in favor of not only monetary cost but political and prestige cost. The DA then weighs in the competence of his legal team as well as the benefit of negotiation from the prospective of might versus might thusly agreeing beforehand the terms of the degree of the “slap on the hand.”
      Whereas the poor are threatened with the destruction of their livelihood, the seizure of their person, the ruination of their future lives. Given, unless the ACLU or SPLC weighs in, they are stuck with a public defender that may or may not enlist support to throw the DA’s calculations awry. Losing a case against a poor looter is a very big loss of face, and possibly political suicide.
      This is how it is, in fact, cheaper.
      The loss of face between high priced legal team, and a miserable unpaid public defender, makes it necessary to bully and offer a plea bargain to the poor. Thusly prosecuting the rich does save monetary cost to the state, and the possible loss of prestige and the mystique of raw power. The key here is the dance of power, not of justice.
      Sorry, old men tend to ramble, I’ll shut up now.

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