As of this morning 834 people have been shot dead by American police officers in 2015. We're 309 days into 2015 so that means we're averaging cops killing two people a day this year. At this rate we should be up against, if not exceeding, one thousand people killed by cops by the time 2015 ends. Yesterday the police in San Diego shot and killed a guy who was fleeing and wouldn't raise his hands. Two days ago they shot and killed a 6 year old autistic boy whose dad was trying to flee a warrant. I don't care what your political leaning is, these are disturbing things to read; the social contract we have with police is that they have guns to use when their lives and the lives of other are in clear and present danger and yet somehow American cops have killed 29 unarmed black people this year.
That's not supposed to be the country we live in. This is not what America is about, it never was. One of the key sparks that led to the American Revolution was the Boston Massacre, where British soldiers opened fire on American protesters (who were super asking for it, by the way, much more so than a dude running away from the cops) - this nation was founded on the concept that authority figures just shouldn't be gunning down citizens in the street. We reject that out of hand, and again - I don't care which party you're with - any American who understands what America stands for must also understand that police shooting and killing people should be rare, unusual, not occuring with the frequency of factory shift changes. It is insane that 834 people have been shot dead by police in this country this year, and it is clear that we need to put a stop to this, and that the only way to put a stop to this is to retrain our police force to use lethal options last. Very, very last. Let that guy get away without his warrant being served, because it's not worth ending the life of a 6 year old autistic boy. In no reality is that worth the life of a little boy.
Quentin Tarantino agrees with this, and he marched in an anti-police brutality protest in New York City. This has really upset the cops of our nation, who have decided that a filmmaker speaking out against the killing of unarmed black and brown people is a bigger problem than the fact that American police have killed 834 people so far this year. Tarantino's words - he said that unarmed black and brown people who were killed by the police were murdered - trouble the police more than the fact that their brothers keep ending the lives of American citizens without anything approaching due process. Instead of working to change a system that is clearly not working, the nation's police unions have opted instead to boycott Tarantino's Hateful 8, an impotent gesture that is frankly embarrassing.
I wasn't going to write about this - I've been busy with our magazine and believe it or not I don't live to write things that piss people off - but today the Fraternal Order of Police's executive director, Jim Pasco, said something so insane I couldn't ignore it. The man in charge of a organization that represents 325,000 cops across the country, basically threatened Tarantino.
"Tarantino has made a good living out of violence and surprise," Pasco says. "Our offices make a living trying to stop violence, but surprise is not out of the question."
"Something is in the works, but the element of surprise is the most important element," Pasco says. "Something could happen anytime between now and [the premiere]. And a lot of it is going to be driven by Tarantino, who is nothing if not predictable."
"The right time and place will come up and we'll try to hurt him in the only way that seems to matter to him, and that's economically," Pasco says.
Pasco denied that was a threat, but that's certainly a Mafioso-style veiled warning. The police could do any number of things, including cause trouble at the film's premiere or wreak havoc on theaters showing The Hateful Eight; this is exactly the mob tactic where a made guy would advise a business owner that paying a protection fee would guarantee nothing bad happened to his business. We call this extortion. It is illegal. Even when cops do it (as opposed to murder, which seems to be legal for police).
and it's a major problem in America today.
People who speak out against police shootings are not enemies of the police, and one would think that the police themselves would rather exist in an environment where they work with the community rather than gun them down, twice a day. It seems crazy to me that the current state of affairs is acceptable to the American police, and it seems unreal to me that they would rather attack those who criticize them than fix the problem that has led to 834 deaths so far in 2015.
Let the police boycott The Hateful Eight. We will be supporting Quentin Tarantino's film in full, and I will be purchasing multiple tickets to see the film in its run, both in 70mm and digital presentations. Don't let the police chill free speech. Don't let the blue wall stand between us and justice. Don't let the few craven, twisted killer cops - and their unhinged spokesmen - soil the pride of America's peace officers. This sort of reaction from dirty, crooked cops isn't unusual - it's happened again and again, from the 1700s through Serpico and beyond - but each time strong, patriotic Americans have stood up to the bad cops and allowed the good cops to flourish. Let's do it again, and let's make America once again a nation where a figure of authority shooting someone is a shocking event, not a twice-a-day reality.