A response to Mike Cosper

This is a response to Mike Cosper’s blog titled “McKinney, Privilege and our Circle of Concern” which can be found here.
The relevant video is found here. (Warning: foul language)
I’m still seeing an alarming number of professing Christians who appear to be either utterly ignorant of the law and the enforcement of that law or they simply don’t care because they’re letting their feelings override good common sense.
Cosper says, “There’s something so stark, so nauseating, so horrific about the video footage of a police officer violently throwing a teenage girl to the ground and planting his knees on her back while she screams for help and cries out for her mother.”
Cosper, like most other Christians consumed with white guilt, completely fails to mention the reason this happened in the first place.  Or perhaps he’s completely ignorant of the reason why, or perhaps he doesn’t care.  The problem is, these things matter.  You can’t ignore certain aspects of a situation like this and focus only on what appears to be a “violent” take down.
So if Cosper is indeed ignorant, I aim to eliminate that excuse from his reasoning.  Since I’m stubborn enough to care about things like facts, truth and reality over raw emotion, let’s look at this objectively.
It’s already been established that the pool party was against the HOA’s rules.  A security officer, who represents the HOA, had already instructed her and the other party goers that they were not allowed onto the private property.  So according to the Texas Penal Code, the party goers were guilty of an offense called Criminal Trespass.  I’ll paste the relevant portion of the Texas Penal Code for you to see…
CRIMINAL TRESPASS  Texas Penal Code Chapter 30.05
(a) A person commits an offense if the person enters or remains on or in property of another, including residential land, agricultural land, a recreational vehicle park, a building, or an aircraft or other vehicle, without effective consent and the person:

(1) had notice that the entry was forbidden; or

(2) received notice to depart but failed to do so.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) “Entry” means the intrusion of the entire body.

(2) “Notice” means:

(A) oral or written communication by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(B) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders or to contain livestock;

(C) a sign or signs posted on the property or at the entrance to the building, reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, indicating that entry is forbidden;

The security guard (who acts as an apparent authority for the owner of the pool) had notified Dajerria Becton (the young black girl in the orange bikini) that she was not allowed to be on the privately owned property (satisfying condition #1) and requested that she depart, which she failed to do, (satisfying condition #2)  At this point she’s guilty of the offense and can be lawfully arrested.  In case the security guard somehow failed to notify her, Officer Casebolt also commanded her to leave, but she didn’t respect officer Casebolt’s lawful command either.

At this point, officer Casebolt is under no obligation to continue to ask her to leave.  She appears to be thinking about leaving, but stops to linger some more while officer Casebolt tells a separate group of people to leave.  The video doesn’t show what she said to the officer, but even she admitted “i guess he thought I said something rude to him.”  Clearly whatever she said made the officer feel as though Ms. Becton needed to be arrested for Criminal Trespass instead of merely being given yet another opportunity to simply leave.  And again, the officer was under no obligation to give her multiple warnings to leave to begin with.

Just as with the Eric Garner case, this is where most people really get appalled.  The video is too distant, shaky and off-center to capture exactly what happened, but my educated guess is that he told her she was under arrest and she immediately resisted the idea and began to argue.  And this is something that needs to be stressed to everyone: if an officer lawfully tells you that you’re under arrest, YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO RESIST THE ARREST.  It doesn’t matter how unfair you think it is.  It doesn’t matter that other people were allowed to leave.  It doesn’t matter what race you are.  It doesn’t matter what race the officer is.  It doesn’t matter if the officer was verbally rude to you.  You comply with the lawful commands.  And if you don’t, you will be physically subdued using whatever force is necessary to effect the arrest.

The officer then moves in to arrest her, and my educated guess is that she pulled away and resisted arrest.  At this point he could have charged her with resisting arrest if he wanted to (and I think he should have).  The officer forcefully takes her to the ground.  Does it look bad?  Sure it does.  Forcing another human being to physically do something they don’t want to do is never going to look “good.”  There’s not a graceful way to physically force someone to do something they don’t want to do.  The bad appearance of this takedown is compounded by the fact that he’s white and she’s a young black female wearing only a bikini.

So to sum up the arrest itself…

  • It was established that Ms. Becton was committing an arrestable offense. 
  • The officer gave her a chance to leave with no repercussions. 
  • She declined that opportunity. 
  • The officer attempted to arrest her. 
  • She resisted arrest. 
  • He used the level of force necessary to effect the arrest.

Did she sustain injury?  Not to my knowledge.  Still, Cosper wasn’t too happy and tweeted this…

cospertweet
It doesn’t matter what any of us thinks is an acceptable use of force, what matters is what the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure tells us is an acceptable use of force.  Here’s what it says….
Art. 15.24. WHAT FORCE MAY BE USED.  In making an arrest, all reasonable means are permitted to 
be used to effect it.  No greater force, however, shall be resorted to than is necessary to 
secure the arrest and detention of the accused.
Mike, could you explain to the class exactly what the officer should have done differently?  Should he have asked her pretty please with a cherry on top to comply with the arrest?  Should he have attempted to somehow perform a Jedi mind trick to get her to comply?  What exactly should an officer do, when someone physically resists his attempts to restrain them, especially when he has no handcuffs?  I eagerly await your answer to that question, Mike.  It would really save both officers and arrestees a lot of grief if you know of a better way.

Back to Cosper’s words, he says, “It’s even more nauseating in the wider context of the video, where boys with black skin are being systemically culled out of the crowd and told to sit while white folks seem free to move about.”  

I’m not even sure what he’s talking about here.  Did you even watch the video?  Are you talking about the guy in the tan shirt and denim shorts?  Pretty sure that guy wasn’t one of the people attending the party and refusing to leave the pool.  Most people don’t show up to a pool party wearing denim shorts and tennis shoes and a button up shirt.  No, I think anyone that has put any thought into this video at all can probably tell that this man wasn’t one of the party goers who was causing a disturbance at the pool, and officer Casebolt probably recognized that as well.  And can you also mention all the other black people that were allowed to leave?  Could it be that certain individuals there were a bigger problem than others?  Must we ignore those possibilities for the sake of detaining an equal number of white people (if there even were an equal number of white people there?)  Could it be, Mike, that you don’t have the full story to know why certain people were detained and others weren’t?  As you said yourself…

cospertweet4
You might want to follow your own advice in this instance. 
Cosper says, “And it’s chilling to see the cop pull a gun when the girl’s friends try to step in and help her.”  Help her with what Mike?  Help her break the law?  Help her resist arrest?  Help her escape a lawful arrest?  What you call help is what the Texas Penal Code calls Interference with Public Duties, and it’s a crime.

Sec. 38.15. INTERFERENCE WITH PUBLIC DUTIES.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person with criminal negligence interrupts, disrupts, impedes, or otherwise interferes with:

(1) a peace officer while the peace officer is performing a duty or exercising authority imposed or granted by law;

Cosper then retweeted this gem from notorious race-baiter Deray…
cospertweet3
Wrong.  The officer drew his gun because he was out numbered by a dozen angry people that were shouting and moving in on his blind spot.  His holstered gun was exposed and within arm’s reach of these angry people, particularly the man in the turquoise ball cap who lunges towards the officer and appears to be reaching into his waistband with his left hand.  So yes, he drew his gun. 
caseboltbreakdown
His actions were reasonable.  And he probably didn’t want to end up like this officer, who was blindsided while trying to make an arrest. Or like this officer who took multiple punches in the face from an onlooker while trying to arrest someone else.
Is this the kind of thing you had in mind when you spoke about a friend stepping in to help her? 
 Mike, if you were surrounded by a dozen people shouting and yelling and cursing at you while you tried to do your job, and suddenly out of the corner of your eye you see one of them bum rushing you while your attention is turned to someone you’re trying to lawfully arrest, do you think that might be a little scary Mike?  Have you given no thought whatsoever to the fact that officer Casebolt is a human being just like you, capable of being injured and killed?  Have you given no thought to the fact that he would like to go home at the end of the day to his family?  Have you given no thought to the fact that he doesn’t want to leave his wife a widow and his children fatherless?  Have you allowed culture to influence your mind to the point that you forget there are human beings, created in the image of God, wearing those uniforms? 
 Cosper continues, “Is her plight – and the plight of those who are subject to the officer’s abusive speech – something we should feel compelled to respond to, or something we can in good conscience shrug our shoulders at?”
 What plight are you talking about Mike?  The fact that she was uninjured while being lawfully and legally arrested for committing a crime after being given every opportunity to simply go home?  And while I will agree with you that the officer shouldn’t have used the foul language he did, let’s not pretend that everyone there was appalled by the language.  Pretty safe bet that the music provided by the DJ at that party had plenty of foul language in it, but suddenly it’s only offensive if a white cop uses those same words?
 Cosper continues, “I think the answer to that question relies, to a degree, on the color of your skin.  If you’re an African American or person of color, she’s the girl in the pond.  Her suffering demands a response not because you can rescue her, but because what she was subjected to is something that you, your family, and your community are at risk of suffering as well.  It’s proximity is very, very close.”
 Again, Mike, what suffering are you talking about?  I’m sorry, but being arrested for committing a crime after being given ample opportunity to leave is not suffering.  Your definition of suffering needs serious revision.  When you use the word suffering in this instance it waters the word down and detracts from ACTUAL suffering.  And I’m not too worried that me or my family is at risk of this “suffering” because I obey the law and respect authority and I teach my children to obey the law and respect authority as well.  Her parents evidently didn’t teach her to respect authority, which is why she ended up in handcuffs.
 Cosper continues, “If, like me, you’re not an African American, then the situation is much different.  One can watch the video, find it horrifying, be moved with empathy at the particulars of the case, and move on with one’s life.  The overarching theme of brutality that targets black skin doesn’t necessarily break through to your circle of concern.”
What is this overarching theme of brutality that targets black skin, Mike?  You speak of it as if it’s an irrefutable fact.  Can you provide any objective evidence that shows police officers target black people and brutalize them today?  Sure, the media will tell you it’s an epidemic, but is it really true?  Can you prove that assertion with anything more than emotion and anecdote?  Furthermore, much like how your definition of suffering needs work, your definition of brutality needs work as well.  Did Ms. Becton suffer any injuries?  Not to my knowledge.  Wouldn’t brutality, at the very least, require some kind of injury?  Or is any arrest where the officer must use force to overcome resistance now defined as brutality?
Cosper continues, “You haven’t experienced similar things in your life and in your community.  You don’t have to warn your children about how they mind themselves with police are around.”
Yes we do, Mike.  That’s the whole point.  We do teach our children to respect authority & obey lawful commands from that authority.  And there are many black parents who do as well, and to no one’s surprise, their kids don’t end up being forced to the ground in a viral Youtube video.  And there are many white parents who don’t teach their kids these things, and their kids end up in handcuffs too.  You see it’s not about race, Mike, as much as you want it to be.  It’s about respecting the law.  Ms. Becton didn’t and she reaped the consequences of that decision.
 Cosper says, “You don’t have to live each day with the subtle legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation that cause a crowd to assume that you don’t belong at a swimming pool in a middle class neighborhood.”
There was no assumption that Ms. Becton didn’t belong at the swimming pool, it was a fact that she didn’t belong.  Much like if I were to walk unannounced into your privately owned home without welcome.  I wouldn’t belong there unless you had given me consent to be there.  The HOA has rules that you must be a resident of the community or a guest of the resident, and each resident is only allowed 2 guests.  It wouldn’t have been any different if she was white.  If she wasn’t a resident or 1 of 2 guests of a resident, she wasn’t allowed to be there.  Period.  Race has nothing to do with it.  Again, you ignore the facts of the case and immediately assume racism.  Yet a black resident (you know, someone who lives there and actually witnessed this whole thing as opposed to watching a 7 minute video from their couch) said the community is diverse and accepting of all races, and that the police were called because fights were breaking out.
Here’s another resident that actually witnessed the whole thing…
gestner
The community is accepting of all races.  What they’re not accepting of is their community pool being overrun and over-crowded by people who haven’t helped pay for that pool (and in fact were charging admission) and want to play loud, vulgar music and smoke weed around their kids.  How dare them, I know, the bigotry is astounding!
Cosper continues, “This is what it means to be ‘privileged.’  It means that society assumes some things in your favor.  Or perhaps, it means that you aren’t subjected to certain bias, suspicion or violence.  Privilege is the ability to look the other way.”
Again, Mike assumes that Ms. Becton (and everyone else there that was black) were told to leave simply because they were black.  I would challenge you Mike to support that belief with evidence.  Because I’ve already provided testimony from a black resident and a white resident that the police were called because the party was out of control.  In fact only one person there was even charged with a crime, and that was the friend that interfered with the lawful arrest of Ms. Becton.  Ms. Becton and her parents should be thanking the McKinney Police Department for not following through with charges of Criminal Trespass, but then again, no good deed goes unpunished these days.
Cosper continues, “The video isn’t a threat for white folks because all the white folks in the video walk away unscathed.”  Again, Mike, can you watch the video again and just count exactly how many white folks we’re talking about that trespassed into the pool and were allowed to walk away?  And while you’re counting, can you count the number of black folks who walked away unscathed?  And really, the word unscathed is yet another poor choice.
From dictionary.com…
unscathed (uhn-skeyth d)
adjective
1. not scathed; unharmed; uninjured.
Was Ms. Becton injured?  Not to my knowledge, so even she walked away unscathed in the end.  Temporarily detained, yes, but unscathed.
He continues, “They are invisible to the officer who is rounding up black kids because it is assumed that they belong there and black kids don’t.  If you’re white, you can ignore the whole thing and go on with your life, confident that you, your children, your white friends and neighbors aren’t likely to be subjected to overly harsh treatment based on the color of your skin.”
Again, Mike, you’re operating on false assumptions and you’re psycho-analyzing the officer and the people who called 911.  What evidence do you have that the police were called merely because the party goers were black?  What evidence do you have that the officer made arrests merely because they were black?  Could it be that the people officer Casebolt detained had run from the police as soon as he arrived, arousing his suspicions?  In fact the other officer in the video says, “Don’t take off running when the cops get here.”  Could it be that none of the white people at the party had done that?  Could it be that the white people you see in the background of the video were never actually observed in the pool area and thus were never committing a crime?  The point is, there could be a huge number of different reasons as to why the officer detained who he detained, but for you to automatically assume racism makes you ironically guilty of the very bias you speak against.  There hasn’t been a single resident of that community that has said the officers came out there and just started throwing black kids around for no reason.  In fact we see just the opposite.  And this is from people who were actually there.  You, on the other hand, don’t have the whole story, so it’s irresponsible of you to make proclamations of racism as if it were indisputable fact.  I believe that’s what the Bible calls “bearing false witness.”
Cosper says, “For white folks, the girl pinned to the lawn by the knees of a police officer might as well be on the other side of the world.”
Two things wrong with this.  One, not all white folks feel that way (you, Mike, would be a good example of such a person) and two, just because we don’t join the lynch-mob of angry citizens who want the officer to be immediately burned at the stake doesn’t mean we feel as though the whole thing might as well be on the other side of the world.  Believe it or not, some of us believe in a fair judicial process that can be carried out by people who actually have access to the full story and all the facts therein.
Cosper continues, “Privilege can dismiss this as a tragic, but isolated incident.  Privilege can look at this case – and Freddie Gray, and Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner, and Walter Scott, and many others – as isolated incidents where “bad apples” acted with unjustified violence.”
That’s because “bad apples” are isolated incidents.  For every Walter Scott and Tamir Rice there are untold thousands of arrests that go down without anyone getting killed or hurt.  But because only the Walter Scotts and Tamir Rices of the world make the news, you are brainwashed into thinking that these stories are commonplace, every day events.  (By the way, the officers who shot Walter Scott and Tamir Rice will go before a grand jury to give an account for their actions, so don’t act like they got off scott free just because they weren’t immediately hung in the public square like you would probably prefer)
Yep, plenty of arrests go down in America every day without making the news.  In 2012, 9.3 million people were arrested across the country.  Of those 9.3 million, 410 people were killed by justifiable homicide.  That’s 0.004%.  It’s amazing that the media can take a number so miniscule and brainwash the masses into thinking it’s some kind of widespread problem.
Cosper says, “Meanwhile, African American parents have to respond to this incident, like the others, by telling their kids to expect injustice and to go out of their way to comply with authorities.”
Here Cosper actually endorses black parents telling their kids to expect injustice from cops.  Unbelievable!  No wonder cops are so demonized!  When kids are indoctrinated into hatred from a young age it’s easy to see why!  And yes, we should all be teaching our kids to comply with authorities, are you suggesting they shouldn’t?
Does your Bible look like this Mike? bible
If so, I’ll paste the first 5 verses of Romans 13 for you…
“Let every person (that would include Ms. Becton) be subject to the governing authorities (that would be officer Casebolt).  For there is no authority except from God (that would be the McKinney Police Department in this case) and those that exist have been instituted by God.  Therefore whoever resists the authorities (that would be Ms. Becton) resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (that would be her arrest).  For rulers (that would be the police) are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad (that would be Ms. Becton’s conduct).  Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? (that would be her defiance and resistance towards officer Casebolt) Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval (that would be the people who left when they were told to), for he is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain (that would be the officer’s pistol).  For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.  Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.”
Mike do you realize that every time you excuse and even condone criminal activity you are in defiance of God’s Word?  Do you realize that every time you tweet anti-police rhetoric that you are essentially saying you reject Romans 13?  I’m not talking about corrupt cops Mike.  And you aren’t either. You’re talking about ALL cops when you endorse stuff like this.  The kind of broad-brushing and stereotyping you commit against police officers is exactly what you rightfully hate when it’s done towards black people.  So can you answer why it’s OK to judge all police officers based on the actions of a few while simultaneously condemning that judgment when it’s towards all black people?  Your double standards are blatant and I urge you to repent of it.
Cosper says, “When my brother weeps because his sons are roughed up by cops for no reason, when my sister weeps because her daughter cried out for help and no one could help her, this should lead me to weep too.”
Do you weep for the 216 murder victims that have been killed in Chicago just since January, most of them black victims, most of them killed by black suspects?  Or is something only weep worthy if it’s a perceived injustice at the hands of a white cop?
Another question for you, Mike.  Do you weep for officer Casebolt?  He’s a flesh and blood human being, created in God’s image, who has suffered injustice as a result of this event, even if he wasn’t perfect throughout it.  Do you weep for him because he was essentially forced to resign from his career?  Do you weep for him and his family as they had to uproot their lives and go into hiding for their safety after receiving numerous death threats?  Is there any sympathy for him at all, or have you demonized and de-humanized him in your mind to such an extent that you’ve become either completely apathetic or actually feel that he and his family deserve it?
You started your blog with an ethical question called “The Drowning Child and the Expanding Circle.”  Ironically, police officers like Darren Wilson and Eric Casebolt, who have had to quit their careers, uproot their families and go into hiding just for doing their jobs, are drowning.  But I guess your circle of concern doesn’t quite expand to them, does it?
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