The Black Guy Did It: Police Edition

Posted: May 13, 2010 by RA in Race, Society
Tags: , , ,
Poster Boy: NYPD

Art by Poster Boy

When my friend Lina tipped me off to the case of a shooting incident involving a Philadelphia cop, she did so in an email simply titled “asshole.” For a second, I was like “well, fuck you, Lina.” But I read on, all the same.

It turns out Sergeant Robert Ralston, a white guy, shot himself and blamed it on a black assailant. An age-old tale, not worth getting the pulse up over, no? But let’s go over the details again. This isn’t like the recent case of Conrad “The Player” Zdzierak, or even the eons-old practice of white ladies crying rape at the hands of black men. In those cases, there was at least a utilitarian point to the racial Red Herring. Zdzierak would be absolutely ineligible as a suspect the instant he ditched the mask, and the white ladies had to explain their unladylike sexuality somehow — victimhood was more acceptable than sexual agency in women of that era.

Susan Smith wanted her kids out of the way so she could land a rich husband. Even Ashley Todd could argue she really just wanted her guy to win. And Lindsay? Well, she’s just fucking Lindsay.

But this Ralston case is a different animal entirely. He didn’t accidentally shoot himself and blame Nino Brown. He wasn’t trying to cover up being shot by a drug dealer he was getting weekly kickbacks from. No, he intentionally shot himself and then blamed it on a black guy. Why a black guy? He thought it would be “more believable” if the shooter was black.

I’m sure a good number of people who heard the story thought, “well, a black guy would be more believable — let’s be honest.” Here’s the thing. WHY?

Why is it more believable that the shooter would be black. Don’t flood my inbox and comment section with statistics that show blacks as inherently more violent. For every one of those studies, I’ll show you one illustrating the sentencing disparity between races in the U.S. Instead, let’s talk about the onslaught of messages we’re inundated with every day, telling us that black people — particularly males — are the most dangerous force in our modern civilization. Though I may have given the aforementioned cases some leeway for at least having a purpose, the fact remains that they were (except possibly Zdzierak) all also largely motivated by racial hatred. More importantly, even after being proven false, the dent each allegation has left in the already fragile image of blacks in America remains intact.

Then you throw in the fact that this is a fucking cop? Every time the police in this country abuse or murder a minority — from Rodney King to Amadou Diallo to Abner Louima to  Cornell Greathouse to Kathryn Johnston to Duanna Johnson to Sean Bell to Oscar Grant to Michael Mineo — people bend over backwards to excuse the actions of the officers. Whether it was Skip Gates’ uppity belligerent attitude or Mineo’s weed-smoking past or Bell’s mythical, gun-toting “fourth man,” people are willing to bend the rules of logic pretty far to avoid dealing with the idea that the force to which they entrust their lives is not just human, not just flawed, but downright hateful and bigoted.

To be sure, cops in the U.S. are a uniformly fucked up bunch of power-drunk douchebags, also quick to check a non-minority who doesn’t respeck their autoritah. However, it cannot be denied that the overwhelming majority of police beatings (and especially shootings) involve minority victims.

Remember this: Ralston didn’t try to cover up his gunshot wound by blaming a black guy. He shot himself in order to blame a black guy. Interestingly, when asked why he orchestrated this whole mess, he declined to give a reason. But of course, in contemporary America, we still won’t call that racist.

This is essentially my point. In a law enforcement system that’s already so broken, we have a cop who is not content with the disproportionately large black population in the prison-industrial complex. Or the racially skewed laws on the books. Or the ability to shoot minorities with badge-flashing impunity. He wants more. Som much so that he’s willing to shoot himself in the chest in order to Blame the Black Guy. And yet, we still refuse to accept the fact that the system is fundamentally bigoted.

When shit like this happens in today’s climate of Compton Cookouts, Arizona de-Latinizing, and Beck-Limbaugh worship, it makes you want to holler– throw up both your hands. Just yell out your window to anyone who will listen. It makes you want to run for elected office so you can change the system from inside. It makes you want to grab a keyboard or a pen, and let your anger and disappointment flow, for the benefit of anyone with eyeballs. Or sometimes, it just makes you assess the situation, the country, the state of the whole fucking world in a single word.


  1. writefullyso says:

    Hi, a friend linked me here…from one blogger to another, I like what I see–keep up the good work!

  2. merq says:

    Thanks, writefullyso. Come by and comment more often.

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