This past Saturday I was in the crowd at the March for Justice, Democracy, and Reconciliation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Klan/Nazi murders of 1979 in Greensboro. If you're not familiar with the incident, you can learn more here.A group of people has been working for years to help Greensboro - whose monied white male leaders are notoriously repulsed by the notion of change - come to terms with these horrific murders that happened in broad daylight in a public housing project.
One of the unsettling aspects of the events of Nov. 3, 1979 was the behavior of the Greensboro police on that day. Absent from their posts while the shootings happened, they were slow to arrive, too late to catch the caravan of Klan/Nazi cars, and instead began arresting the victims, demonstrators in an anti-Klan march. It was all caught on videotape by 4 TV camera crews - and it is chilling footage - yet all the shooters were acquitted in state and Federal trials. The D.A. at the time, whose job it was to prosecute the killers, stated during the trial that most people in Greensboro thought the victims "got what they deserved." This is a long and complex story that I can't do justice to here, so I'll get to my point.
This past Saturday, no one could accuse the Greensboro Police of being anything resembling absent. Their helicopter circled overhead, while upwards of 200 officers in riot gear marched alongside, videotaped, and photographed the marchers. It made a lot of the marchers nervous, though there were no incidents and their presence there was obviously intended to prevent violence and protect the march. A few of them even smiled and nodded and seemed to be enjoying themselves and the festive atmosphere.
I have no aspirations to join any police or government watchlists, and I have tremendous respect for the difficult, dangerous, and often thankless job that is law enforcement.
But why the video cameras?