[Update: See the end of this post for an interview with the victim of police abuse described below, Malika Calhoun, and her father.]
Police officers may well be more abusive with lower-income white people than with other white people. However, they're generally much more abusive to those who are not white, and especially to those who are black. And that's true whether the victims are black men, or black women, or even black children.
Why is that?
I think one reason is that some part of white people often responds to black people as if they're dangerously subhuman and in need of control. Even black women, and even black children. As Paul Kivel puts it, "As white people, we have been trained to see danger in the very presence of people of color."
So when non-white people suffer police abuse, there's very little outrage on the part of white people. As Resistance puts it at the blog Resist Racism, "Racism harms white people by stripping them of their ability to feel." Feel for other, non-white people, that is. White Americans can feel bad about other white people's problems and pain, such as their missing children. They can see their own children in those missing young white people, and they can see themselves in those grief-stricken white parents.
White people can readily empathize with white pain, but why can't they seem to see themselves in the beaten faces and bodies of black men, women, and children, many of whom are punched, kicked, pistol-whipped, tasered, and shot by overzealous police officers?
How much sustained, mainstream-media attention is the case of a fifteen-year old black girl beaten by a white police officer going to get, now that a video of the beating has been released? How much more attention would would this abuse get if the girl were instead white?
Why do white people lack empathy for other people, just because they're not white? Even goodhearted, good-willed white people? How can they nourish and grow this atrophied part of themselves?
A King County sheriff's deputy accused of kicking a 15-year-old girl in the stomach pleaded not guilty Thursday to the fourth-degree assault charge he faces.
Deputy Paul Schene, who appeared in King County Superior Court to enter the plea, was charged in the incident last week following an investigation by the department. The gross misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail.
In court documents, Schene is accused of kicking the girl after she flipped her shoe at him.
At the time of the Nov. 29 incident, prosecutors say, the girl was in a holding cell at SeaTac City Hall.
Schene, an eight-year veteran with the Sheriff's Office, was involved in a 2006 shooting in which he killed a mentally ill man during a struggle on Interstate 5. That shooting was deemed justified by the department.
Later Thursday, Schene's attorney appeared before Superior Court Judge Catherine Shaffer to request that video of the incident not be released to the media. Opposing the motion on behalf of the King County Sheriff's Office, Senior Deputy Prosecutor John Cobb argued that the state public records act requires the video be released.
"This is a public record," Cobb told the judge. "It's of legitimate public interest, and it's not exempt (from release) under the record's act."
Shaffer ruled that the video should be released.
Update: An interview with this victim of police abuse, Malika Calhoun, and her father: