For those who don’t know what SWATing is, it’s when someone, as a form of harassment, calls the police and tells them there’s an emergency–often someone with a gun–which then usually results in a heavily armed response against an unsuspecting person, who is just being at home. Not only is annoying, but it’s potentially deadly
Which brings us to this Washington Post article about a Santa Monica black businesswoman whose white, pants-shitting neighbor decided that she was breaking into her own apartment and called the police. In response, sixteen police officers showed up and pointed guns in her face. You should read the whole thing, but the aftermath raises an important question. Here’s what happened after the immediate danger passed (to the citizen, not the police officers; boldface mine):
After the officers and dog exited my “cleared” apartment, I was allowed back inside to speak with some of them. They asked me why I hadn’t come outside shouting, “I live here.” I told them it didn’t make sense to walk out of my own apartment proclaiming my residence when I didn’t even know what was going on. I also reminded them that they had guns pointed at me. Shouting at anyone with a gun doesn’t seem like a wise decision.
I had so many questions. Why hadn’t they announced themselves? Why had they pointed guns at me? Why had they refused to answer when I asked repeatedly what was going on? Was it protocol to send more than a dozen cops to a suspected burglary? Why hadn’t anyone asked for my ID or accepted it, especially after I’d offered it? If I hadn’t heard the dog, would I have opened the door to a gun in my face? “Maybe,” they answered.
I demanded all of their names and was given few. Some officers simply ignored me when I asked, boldly turning and walking away. Afterward, I saw them talking to neighbors, but they ignored me when I approached them again. A sergeant assured me that he’d personally provide me with all names and badge numbers.
I introduced myself to the reporting neighbor and asked if he was aware of the gravity of his actions — the ocean of armed officers, my life in danger. He stuttered about never having seen me, before snippily asking if I knew my next-door neighbor. After confirming that I did and questioning him further, he angrily responded, “I’m an attorney, so you can go f— yourself,” and walked away.
I spoke with two of the officers a little while longer, trying to wrap my mind around the magnitude and nature of their response. They wondered: Wouldn’t I want the same response if I’d been the one who called the cops? “Absolutely not,” I told them. I recounted my terror and told them how I imagined it all ending, particularly in light of the recent interactions between police and people of color. One officer admitted that it was complicated but added that people sometimes kill cops for no reason. I was momentarily speechless at this strange justification.
What is the likelihood that if something had gone wrong–either she or the police panicked–and she had been killed, that nothing would have happened, that this would have been swept under the rug (or that the right wing puke funnel would be going full throttle)? This successful woman, who is doing everything bigoted white people say those people should be doing, would have been another little figure on some infographic.
But it’s not about race, because nothing is ever about race.