Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You Took the Words Outta My Mouth: Lovelle Mixon

I listened to three different stories about Lovelle Mixon on NPR today as I drove to and from work. If you are not familiar with his story yet, Mixon was shot and killed by police in Oakland California last week after he alledgedly killed 4 officers, and wounded another. Other than the tragic aspect of this story, it is noteable because it compounds the already toxic relationship between the black community and the police. It again raises many questions about what role police brutality will (continue to) play in this whole mess. Samhita over at Feministing has a great post up about this that I certainly cannot compete with:

When police officers are found to have murdered young black men, they are almost always let off the hook, they do not face life in prison and they are not then hunted and killed. This is not to suggest that the murder of cops is justified, but to ask that we look at it within the context of police brutality and the damage it has wreaked on the black community.

The power that resides in the laps of armed police officers is terrifying. Imagine living in these conditions, in the kind of world where you can be gunned down just for being young, black, male and walking down the street. This story is almost impossible to understand given dominant narratives around race, class, gender and black masculinity. It is considered OK to kill young black men, often violently. We may be outraged, but not nearly as outraged as when cops are killed.

Read the rest here.


Eva said...

I fail to understand how someone can use the word "allegedly" to describe what happened, then call it a fact in the next sentence. I missed the part of the story where anyone disputed Mixon killed those four cops, although I suppose once they were in the apartment it's possible in the confusion one cop shot at another. I also hate when you make half of a sentence the part you think the reader wanted to hear, then say BUT, when you really should say "well fuck everything I just said, here's what I really mean", and then commence with your actual opinion. What a waste of space.

I also think I am allergic to context. At the end of things I don't really care if he was desperate to find a job, pissed at his parole officer, or scared for his life because he lived "in the kind of world where you can be gunned down just for being young, black, male and walking down the street." Lovelle Mixon wasn't merely walking down the street. He shot two cops, then ran to his sister's apartment and ALLEGEDLY shot two more.

Context, dialogue, whatever, doesn't make deplorable, evil, bad things "make sense." People still have choices. You choose to be a type of person because of your environment, or in spite of it.

I am surprised you didn't say anything about this being a case for stricter gun control. And what if his sister who was hit with a flash grenade had been more severely hurt? Or if his niece had been home and in her room, the room he was shooting from?

Anonymous said...

The latest news on Lovelle Mixon is that he is believed to be involved in up to 5 rapes, the most recent of which was a little 12-yr. old girl who he didn't know.

There are people in the world who are just evil. Mr. Mixon was a very evil person. I don't think there's much more to it than that.

Louisa May said...

look i was just using "allegedly" to match up with this and other stories also using this wording...i don't mind changing the words since i'm not married to them.

I do think all the things you both say are true, but also obvious. There's no interest or story in talking about this horrendous fit of violence anymore. At least, I'm not interested in it. I was/am interested in how this crime will affect this community in the future. What does Mixon's actions mean for the future of Oakland and it's black residents? Perhaps I didn't spend enough time making that more clear, but I honestly just wanted to throw that story up there because it's a different conversation than anyone has been having about the issue, and I think it's important. This post was supposed to be less about him, more about the bigger picture.

Eva, a call for gun control would have perhaps been a better use of it, however, I'm working on a gun control piece now in which I will probably cite this story again, so that was the choice there.

Thank you both for taking the time to add your perspective.

emrez said...

I have to second Luce', and also Samhita's concerns about what this means for police/community relations. Certainly, in the case of murder, those responsible should be held accountable and as the story comes out it sounds like Mixon was a pretty despicable character. But, that's not even really the point here.

As far as using the world "allegedly" --- it gets used in journalism because journalists cannot write that someone is responsible for a crime unless they have been convicted. You know that whole "innocent before proven guilty" (however faulty our justice system may actually be). I think it was perfectly appropriate for Luce' to use "allegedly" to describe Mixon's actions, as he hasn't yet been convicted. (This is not to imply I think he's innocent - I don't - but he has rights, too).

Sure, this is an issue of gun control. But it's also an issue of race relations, the broken prison system, and - if allegations about rape are true - masculinity and violence against women as well. These issues are so all interwoven and it's impossible to talk about them all at length at once, but beginning the conversation is a step in the right direction.

Eva said...

It was the author of the linked post who said allegedly, then called it a fact.

As for what this will do for the future of Oakland's residents, Lovelle Mixon will perpetuate the notion that all ex-felons are dangerous and unemployable.