This case of a non-white man being shot dead by police is different. This case is on video. This case leaves less to the imagination, and the victim's side seems to have more support (or maybe it's less resistance) from those who tend to err on the side of "choot him."
So it's no surprise that I'm hearing unanimous sympathy and disgust, to see someone shot like that, no matter what the reason. (Full disclosure: I haven't been able to bring myself to watch the video).
There is, unsurprisingly, reluctance to view this as race-based.
One of the reasons is that one of the cops who is involved in the alleged cover up is black. I realize that might be confusing to those who view racism as very cut and dry; whether or not there was a black officer involved is not the point - the point is that the police force appears to be disproportionately targeting minorities. I also heard a few stats on the radio that might add poor whites into the mix in N. Charleston. They are failing to see this as discrimination because of some outliers.
People also seem reluctant to admit it for reasons you and I all know; difficulty admitting the obvious. Difficulty coming to terms with racial privilege. White people who cannot separate their own feelings from accusations against other white people, or society as a whole.
What is driving me mad about this line of thinking is that even if it were true that this has little to do with racism, these people are still admitting the cops are using disproportionate force. Why would you, white person, still be opposed to more cameras, training, and accountability for cops, if you admit there is a problem at all? If you are as much a target as a racial minority, you should also want this taken care of.
There are still a few fringe, support-the-cops-no-matter-what people.
I heard a few of them. Someone on "On Point" this morning was saying that the media was sensationalizing things in order to paint the cops as villains because it sells (which, from everything I heard about what was in the video, it seems pretty straightforward). There are also other people fighting so ferociously to always take a cop's word for it, despite what evidence says. We owe them so much, they say. They put their lives on the line, they say. You don't know what was going through his head, why he reacted that way, what your instincts would have told you if you were the cop.
(notice they never seem to wonder what fight-or-flight instinct leads the victim to flee)
If the cops are in the right, if Michael Slager was acting in pure defense of himself or another, you should still support more training and more cameras. Something went horribly awry, and if your narrative holds true, an innocent man is being raked over the coals because of it.
[White] people seem really reluctant to talk about this.
I am a white person from South Carolina; I know a lot of people in close proximity to this, both black and white. It seems to be universally horrifying to all of them. There is not much arguing going down on my Facebook, but there is a lot of tone policing - or, I dunno the word for it, but "let's wait until the facts come out" or "this is awful, but I don't want to speculate about race [or whatever] here." A lot of forced de-escalation of the conversation.
I think it says a lot that one population wants to fight, and another wants to stop the conversation. I'm not saying that those trying to stop the conversation are acting out of poor intentions, but they are showing their hand a little: they are not in fear, because this could not happen to them. Or, at least, that's the comfort they have. I have this comfort also.