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Executed for asking Why

Good luck finding articles about Gracia Beaugris, an unarmed 19 year-old Haitian immigrant executed in a Miama alley a few weeks ago.

The few mainstream articles that quickly followed have been archived for paying customers only. [Update: mainstream 1; mainstream 2.] The following teasers from the Miami Herald written shortly after the incident are beautiful examples of standard-issue knee-jerk MadLib-style authoritarian justifications that are assaults on reason and common sense — assuming you know more about the story than what is presented for public consumption.

Officer had to shoot teen, union says

A police union attorney said a Miami-Dade officer was justified in using deadly force when a teen lunged at him, beating, biting and reaching for the officer's gun. Bruised, beaten and bitten in a violent scuffle, a Miami-Dade officer shot and killed a 19-year-old in a North Miami alleyway, police said Friday.

Officer Christopher Villano scuffled late Thursday with Gracia Beaugris for four to five minutes and believed the...
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Bruised, beaten and bitten in a violent scuffle, a Miami-Dade officer shot and killed a 19-year-old in a North Miami alleyway, police said Friday.

Officer Christopher Villano scuffled late Thursday with Gracia Beaugris for four to five minutes and believed the teenager was reaching for his sidearm.

"The officer has no choice but to fire," union attorney Andrew Axelrad said Friday. "He would have been justified in firing sooner."

But for those who like he-said/she-said games, here's the other reality at play in the story:
It appears that the young man died because he had gotten, "sick and tired of being sick and tired." He had been hassled by the cops before, he heard stories about his boys being harassed by police, surely he was probably aware of other folks being harassed who looked like him. So when this cop stopped and frisked him and his friends, he decided to object by asking, "Why?"

That question may have gotten him killed. According to witnesses, when the youth asked why he had been stopped and frisked, the officer cursed at him and pushed him. Beaugris offered resistance and was choked and then shot in the arm by the officer, which caused him to fall to the ground.

What has the community so outraged is that the cop then shot the teen two more times - once in the head - while he lay on the ground defenseless, killing him. Calling it a murder would not be inappropriate.

Which version is closer to the truth? I expect it's something between the two, though closer to the second: anyone who has experienced police harrassment and abuse will find the second version all too credible. Officers, especially ones drunk on power mixed with fear and distrust, do not like any challenges to their unquestionable authority.

The youth was most likely, like the second story said, "sick and tired" of being harassed for no reason: he asked why he was being frisked; got rudely rebuffed; last straw; snapped, lashed out in frustration at, and/or self-protection from, some racist scared powermad peckerwood cop; received a fatal response in panic.

But there's one thing that's decisive in this story: shooting the head of a downed and unarmed person is compelling evidence for the claim of murder. In fact, this story kind of has the feel of some Nazi thug shooting a Jew for daring to stand up for himself, for demanding to know why he's being maltreated, for asserting that he, too, has a right to be treated with respect, that he has feelings, has a right to receive a reasonable answer to a reasonable question, is a human being and not some mass-produced thing that must conform to spec, who got fed up with being victimized once too often and took a fatal stand.

What's the lesson?

In today's America, daring to ask why of "authority" can prove fatal.

But that's only if you believe such things can happen in today's America. Fortunately for most of its citizens, the news will never burden their conscience with such things. (Just like it doesn't confuse them with different perspectives.)

Maybe, though, I'm wrong. Maybe, in fact, the officer really did have no choice but to fire, once the attempt to establish two-way communication was quickly precluded. Maybe he really should have fired sooner.

Yeah, that's it.

In fact, maybe he should have fired just as soon as the troublemaker looked like he was going to open his fucking mouth to give lip. Can't have citizens acting all uppity, you know. Can't have anyone dare to challenge the word image of authority. Need to instill unconditional respect, unconditional respect. Jump high on command, kneel down, bow low, cringe, cower, fall prostrate, take off your shoes and socks, say "Yez Massah!" and mean it. It's the only way society will be made safe. And it's the only way Freedom™ can be guaranteed for all.

America, after all, is the land of the Free™. America is all about Freedom™. That's why we have men like Rudy Giuliani running for president. He understands Freedom™. Here are his immortal words on the topic: "Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do." Clearly Gracia Beaugris, an immigrant, didn't understand what Freedom™ means in America, and he paid the ultimate price for it.

Yes, America is all about Freedom™: the Freedom™ to be tazed, shot, murdered by powermad cops; the Freedom™ to be a victim of institutional injustice; the Freedom™ of mainstream media to manipulate you; the Freedom™ of citizens to obey authority; the Freedom™ to be in perpetual cognitive dissonance from a twisted culture's inherent doublethink about everything.

In the bigger picture, Freedom™ is about the right to embezzle public monies, pass regressive laws, wage profitable wars on obvious lies, lie cheat and steal with complete impunity. The Freedom™, ultimately, for criminals to thrive — so long as they're the ones with power and bear image's imprimatur of authority. The list of all of America's Freedoms™ really is endless.

If Freedom™ is about Authority, then America may well be the most Freedom™ loving nation that has ever existed.

And what are we to make of Giuliani's "lawful authority" when the laws are written by, enforced by, and at the service of criminals? when "lawful authority" itself is criminal?