Ordinarily it would suffice to allow the Michael Vick case to recede into a state of distant memory except that a Forbes magazine poll and the surfacing of a horrific video of a 2002 police murder of an African American youth insist that we revisit both incidents.
Recently Forbes magazine, the gatekeeper and chronicler of corporate culture, felt compelled to inform us that according to their yearly poll Michael Vick remains, for the second year in a row, America’s most detested athlete. Apparently white folks refuse to forgive and forget. Oakland Raider’s owner Al Davis, NFL quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and golfer Tiger Woods round out the top five.
NFL quarterback Vick, readers will remember, was sentenced to 21 months in prison and rendered bankrupt after pleading guilty in 2007 of participating in an interstate scheme to engage in dog fighting.
Obviously Vick, a young African American millionaire had violated societies boundaries engaging in the long discredited sport of dog fighting. In the run up to his trial, however, mainline media heaped hatred and scorn on Vick to the point one would have thought America’s devil incarnate, Osama Bin Laden, had been brought to justice.
Black talking head for ESPN and the Washington Post Michael Wilbon labeled Vick’s crime as “heinous,” a word that has become the second most overused word in relation to crime, genocide being the first most overused word. The reasoning here is that if everything is heinous then nothing is not heinous.
Not that long ago mass murderer Ted Bundy was said to have committed heinous crimes. Today a young black man who bankrolled a dog fighting scheme is held to the same standard of hatred. To her undying credit comic Whoopi Goldberg was one of the very few public personalities who decried the racism involved in the public persecution of Vick.
But why, other than the Forbes magazine poll, revisit this desultory incident? Answer: the Deondre Brunston murder.
Deondre Brunston was a 24 year old youth living in Compton, Ca. After a domestic dispute his girlfriend called the police.
In a filmed interview Deondre’s aunt, Keisha Brunston explained what happened next.
According to Brunston, after police arrived and confronted Deondre things quickly escalated. Reportedly Deondre, for whatever reason told police he was wanted for murder and that he was armed. Neither claim turned out to be true, but neither did police attempt to learn the truth.
What we see next in the video provided below is Deondre sitting on a porch communicating with police. Suddenly a police dog charges him and police open fire. Brunston was hit 22 times and flopped around like Bonnie and Clyde in the Sam Peckinpah film. By mistake the police also shot the dog. The police then rushed to embrace the dogrushed it to a helicopter and it was flown presumably to an animal hospital where it later expired. Meanwhile, steam rising from his chest, Brunston is ignored, not even examined, never provided the least bit of assistance, nor is any attempt made to determine if he is even alive. Police simply put up the yellow tape and ignore the apparently lifeless body.
Later police said that what they believed to have been a handgun in Deondre’s waist was actually a flip-flop sandal.
The lessons provided in theses two relatively recent episodes are clear and unambiguous. In many respects little has changed since the days of slavery-a dogs life is worth more than someone’s who is perceived to be a jobless black man.
However curious, white America’s elevation of dogs to the iconic status of best friend is nothing new.
In the late 1930’s Warner Bros. film mogul Harry Warner testified before congress to protest its refusal to allow the studio to produce and distribute a film about the construction of concentration camps in Germany. Congress was concerned the film would alienate Germany, at that time a fond trading partner.
“If 500 dogs a day were being killed Americans would be up in arms,” wailed Warner.
Since the days of the German concentration camps and WWII white Americans have prided themselves and constructed a grand illusion that they were the ones who by themselves defeated Nazi Germany and solely were responsible for the liberation of the death camps.
This is a great fiction of course because the turning point of the war in Europe took place at Stalingrad and the outcome of the war had already been determined before the Normandy invasion took place.
The point of all this is that to a great degree many white US citizens live a delusional reality that allows them to think fairness and justice prevail when a black youth is sent to prison for dog fighting and the same justice and fairness prevail when another black youth is horrendously murdered. The truth is that just as most white Americans didn’t protest the construction of death camps few protest today when the police walk around with blood on their hands, accountable to no one.
Judge for yourself. The Deondre Brunston video is at: