Today, I, like thousands of others, saw the viral video of the violent arrest of Debra Sue Hamil, a self-proclaimed “country girl” who doesn’t like being man-handled by police. Many are framing her behavior as that of a privileged white woman, but I’d like to approach this from a slightly different angle. Regardless of your view of what transpired in the video, let’s start by agreeing that we don’t want to live in a society where a broken taillight can legitimately lead to a violent and almost deadly confrontation with police. This is the first problem we need to fix. Are we, as a people, really saying that when you have something wrong with your car as trivial as a broken taillight that we want 65-year-old grandmothers to be harassed, arrested, tased, and handcuffed? Because if that is what we are saying, stop the planet, I want to get off. I can’t continue living here with you.
Next, you can say what you want about Hamil’s attitude, but the police officer chose to escalate the situation so I lay all of the blame for how it ultimately turned out at his feet. The moment it went south was when 1) he thought he could force her to sign the ticket – drop the power trip and just walk away man, mail her the ticket later and issue a bench warrant when she refuses to pay it, and 2) he got his feelings hurt because she decided to stand up for what she believed in and didn’t bow down and grovel before the majesty of the big, bad LEO. So what? Everything that happens after that was a direct result of his pride being hurt by having an old woman put him in his place – no other explanation. We overthrew an entire fucking empire because we were tired of having to kiss the king’s ring, but let an old lady show similar contempt for the all-powerful state and we’re ready to watch her get a beat down? Fuck you George Washington and your uppity friends – y’all should have learned your place and been good loyal subjects. Who needs freedom?
Lastly, I know Black Twitter was blowing up today. And I certainly agree that if she had been black, she would not have lived to tell about the incident, and the bodycam footage would have mysteriously been erased. But can we please keep our collective focus on the real bad guys here? Would you have felt better if she had been shot? About time they killed a white person for a change, is that it? Fucking psychopaths. The police should not be in the business of roughing people up. They should not be killing innocent people of any color. They should not be targeting citizens who are otherwise harming no one, whether they are driving with a broken taillight or selling cigarettes on a public street.