Monday, January 19, 2009

Victim-Blaming of Dymond Milburn

Trigger Warning

The following is a guest post by Sunless Nick

I am a Brit, resident in the city of York; I'm single, but with family and friends who show me every day how much people can be worth.  I am gradually learning how much has been handed to me on account of being a white male; and believe others deserve the safety I have, regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, race, or homeland.

Renee and I have both posted before about the assault upon  Dymond Milburn by three plain clothes officers.  We both concentrated on the cops themselves - their flagrant abuse of power and the brutal prejudice they showed in their actions.  But there's more, there's always fucking more.  Because no case like this is allowed to pass without the victim-blaming and cries of "liar."

Like these people from the Houston Press article:

Amazing enough none of you know the full story behind this. You heard one side and assume that it is the truth... This family that was so wrongly accused has history with the Galveston Police.

Whatever: You all apparently have one side of the story and are eating it up like worms on caca!! I laugh at all of you. I bet her dad was a dope dealer thug and the girl was a neighborhood thug!!!!!!

Realitycheck: Get a grip. This didn't happen in the way the article or the family described. It's funny how the masses take what the press prints as Gospel. Get informed, and get a clue. The Police Officers didn't jump out of a van without identifying themselves, beat the daylights out of the little girl, and they weren't trying to kidnap and rape her either.

Well her trip the hospital wasn't bullshit, so someone did attack her.  And the police have admitted it was them (their lawyer is claiming their force was reasonable and proper after all, thus it can't be denied that they used it), so that's not bullshit either.  "Liar" is looking pretty unfeasible right about now.    Oh, but the family has a history with the police?  Well they sure as hell have had for the past two years - and Ib doesn't provide any sources on this alleged history, leaving me to wonder how much of it is recent, and due to the Millburns' temerity in not meekly accepting the violence done to Dymond.

None of these people provide any evidence that the Milburns were a family of thugs who misrepresented the police; they just assume it must be the case.  Because that's comfortable.  As Realitycheck goes on to say, and another commentator adds:

Realitycheck: It's not the 20's and Officers are held accountable these days for their actions, so get off the Gestapo kick.

Simon: I call bullshit on this story. No way any Police force would act like this.

The police don't act this way because/so they're held accountable, and they hold themselves accountable because/so they're good, and they are good because/so they don't act this way.  Right?  A nice comfortable little circular argument where each bit proves the other two, so long as we assume it's true.  And we (white people) want to believe that, so we (white people again) assume that the Dymond Milburns of this world must be lying, or must have deserved it.  And the last time I said anything like this, it was about rape-apologism - something of which these comments strongly remind me.

So what exactly did Dymond do?  This alleged history, if it even exists, can't provide any answers - the three cops were looking for suspects whose description she couldn't possibly have fitted, so they had no legitimate reason to go after her.  Speculation about an existing warrant, or her doing something more sinister than fixing a breaker, can't provide any answers either - if there were such a thing, they would have charged with that her at the time, not waited three weeks to charge with resisting an empty arrest - and the charge of resisting arrest would not have been declared a mistrial on the first day.  So she did nothing to deserve it.

But the apologists can't stand that; they insist there must be "another side" to the story.  And then someone linked to one, a post about the case on a police (not specifically Galveston police) blog:

This case, when it happened, was not a case of consequence.  To the officers it was another routine night on the street.  Another night of dealing with drug dealers, prostitutes, pimps, thieves and the like.  They did what they were suppose to do, by the book, and with the advice and knowledge of their commanders and the District Attorney.

...

The lawsuit claims the girl was injured by the officers. It claims she was taken to the emergency room and lists a string of injuries that would normally be considered serious or critical injuries, but she was not admitted to the hospital.

...

When all is said and done, we believe this whole incident is nothing but media play and an effort to grab money from a city that doesn't have money to spare, and an assault on three, honest, decent, hardworking cops that have families and children of their own

1.  Not of consequence?  It was certainly of consequence to Dymond Milburn and her family.  But that's the characteristic of this kind of violence - it's not a big deal to the people who commit it - or to their apologists.  They don't have to live with the scars.

2.  The injuries are listed in the lawsuit - they're the kind that little but time and rest that could treat, so it's no surprise that Dymond wouldn't be admitted to hospital, but it's hardly cause to deem them trivial.

3.  And here it comes:  Dymond and her family are just a bunch of gold-diggers attacking the good names of three upstanding police officers.  Because if crying liar doesn't work, and you can't figure out how they deserve it, what's left but to allege a sinister motive?  What's left but to treat the victim as an attacker out to ruin good men?

Our society deems POC to be sinister figures; it does the same with women who step outside their assigned boxes.  And so the picture is always of POC and women as the aggressors - even as victims, they are made to be ultimately responsible for violence committed against them - and a desire for justice is made out to be as much a crime as that violence itself.


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