An old friend of mine commented on one of my endless posts about policing on facebook, asserting that the best way to avoid being killed by cops is to be polite and cooperative. I hear this a lot in these discussions, so I thought it might be a good idea to post my response as a status update.
Here it is:
Of course, that's just good common sense. I also urge everybody to be as cooperative as possible when dealing with law enforcement.Excelsior!
But that's only part of the story. Humanity, in all of its weird individualized diversity, isn't always capable of behaving perfectly under such circumstances. Mental illness springs to mind immediately. But we've also got to consider intoxication and drugs--I mean, we should die because we're drunk and too slow to figure out that we need to keep our hands where they can see them? People are also, well, people: we get angry; we get irrational; we get tired and irritable; we get sad, and all these things affect our ability to be the perfect, compliant citizen when interacting with police.
Again, you're absolutely right about cooperating with the cops. But we have millions of people in this country, in millions of different states of being when it comes to consciousness and self-control. I just don't think we should be punished with death if we're mentally ill, drunk, or having a really bad day.