Louisiana, Minnesota shootings prove clear and deadly double standard
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As a licensed firearm carrier, I have had to undergo significant and ongoing training, both in the safe operation of firearms, as well as the legal and prudential implications of bearing arms as a civilian. One of the first things they teach you in training is that when you are pulled over or detained by a police officer, you have a duty to disclose to the officer that you are carrying a firearm that you are legally licensed to possess.  

Just two days ago, in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota, a young woman named Lavish Reynolds broadcast a live Facebook video from the passenger seat of a car in the immediate aftermath of an incident in which she and her boyfriend had been pulled over by police for having a broken tail light.  


On the haunting, horrifying video, we see next to her in the driver’s seat a man who has apparently been shot, bleeding profusely from his chest, the blood staining his white t-shirt, and taking his last breaths as life quickly ebbed from his body. We see a police officer’s gun pointed through the open window and hear the voice of an agitated officer barking commands and attempting to justify his actions. And then, of course, our hearts sank when we heard the voice of a young child, coming from the back seat of the vehicle – she had witnessed the whole thing first hand.  

According to the woman’s (as yet uncorroborated) testimony on the video, the man who was shot had informed the officer that he was a concealed firearm carrier, and was complying with the officer’s instructions when he was shot without warning.

Let’s compare this to another recent incident. A few weeks ago a young British man at a Donald TrumpDonald TrumpFreedom Caucus member condemns GOP group pushing 'Anglo-Saxon political traditions' MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's new free speech site to ban certain curse words Secret Facebook groups of special operations officers include racist comments, QAnon posts: report MORE campaign rally attempted to wrestle a gun out of a security officer’s holster in a failed plot to assassinate Trump.  The man was arrested safely, and no one was harmed. In fact, the attempt was not even seriously covered in the media, as the man was widely viewed as a misguided person who possibly suffered from mental problems.  

Obviously, people will point to specific differences in the facts of each case – but the implication seems to be clear. White, armed suspects, who are apprehended by police are more likely to be given the benefit of the doubt than black subjects. Moreover, they are more likely to emerge with life and limb intact.    

A clear pattern evidencing a double standard in how police black suspects is clearly emerging and cementing itself into the national consciousness. Perhaps the remarks of the Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton, express the feeling most succinctly. In response to a question as to whether race played a role in the St. Paul incident he responded; “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver and the passengers, were white? I don’t think it would have…I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.” 

We need effective policing – especially areas most adversely affected by crime such as the inner cities of Chicago and Baltimore. But in order to get there we need trust. In order to establish that trust, the selection and training process of police officers has to improve significantly. The screening process for police officers has to be better – tests for implicit bias and psychological problems need to be implemented.

Ongoing training for police officers in how to de-escalate high stress situations needs to be improved. A more transparent and independent process for evaluating police misconduct will shore up community trust. But most importantly, we need to erase the ‘us versus them’ attitude that seems to be permeating police-community relationships.

Williams is a political columnist, radio show host on SiriusXM and the author of "Reawakening Virtues." Follow him on Twitter @Arightside.