Thursday, October 6, 2016

Let’s (Not) Egg the Mayor’s House!

If you have not already heard, a man was shot in South Los Angeles by the police in the past few days following a foot chase after he bailed from his car. Carnell Snell Jr., was the man who was shot. Allegedly, Snell was armed with a firearm and police were led to believe that he was riding in a stolen vehicle. Police spotted the car with a paper license plates, which suggested the vehicle may have been stolen.

The victim’s sister described the events that unfolded near 106th and Western.

Trenell Snell, 17, said she was outside with friends when she saw her older brother, CJ, running from police. Trenell Snell started running too, she said. Then she heard gunfire — "boom, boom, boom, boom."

She hit the ground. When she got up, she said, her brother was on the ground, handcuffed.

"At the end of the day, the cops came and shot my brother," she said. "Killed my brother."[1]

Shortly after word got out that another young black man was shot and killed by the police force, protests sprung up all over Los Angeles. The victim’s friends and family mourned their loss, giving statements to the media about who they perceived Snell to be.

Snell was attending college, enjoyed rapping and was pursuing boxing again after a hiatus, friends said.[2]

Sharply contrasting this idealization of Snell were some harsh facts.

Court records show that Snell was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in July and sentenced to a year in Los Angeles County Jail.(2)

I feel bad for the victim’s family and friends. I can sympathize with their loss. But it is hard to ignore the facts. Snell had a criminal history that can not and should not be ignored. We should not be so quick to point our fingers at policemen when they feel like their lives are in danger or if they feel that a situation is questionable. However, I think that people should be able to freely articulate their views in this country and express when they think there are systematic problems going on.

The grief Snell’s family is feeling right now is almost palpable. I cannot imagine losing a son in such a violent manner. I can also understand why the African American community at large is upset. If I were in living in the same context and confronted with systematic oppression, I too would go out and protest for my rights. However, there is a catch. I don’t think that protesting in the form of vandalizing private property will get much of anything done.

In the past few days, protestors have marched to Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s house in Hancock park in a demonstration to I assume demand systematic changes in the way things are in Los Angeles. A few protestors apparently threw eggs at the Mayor’s house.

On Sunday morning, a carton of eggs was visible in the mayor’s driveway, and egg residue was visible on a gray Ford Fiesta parked out front as well as parts of the mayor’s home. City street services employees arrived later to hose down the house and water the lawn.[3]

In my opinion, this is about as productive as blocking traffic on the 405 freeway for your cause. I agree with the principles the protestors are enacting and ultimately do believe there is a police brutality problem in this country, but I think there are more productive and proactive ways in dealing with this issue. A Q &A session with local politicians maybe, or an organized march that does not obstruct people trying to get to and from work. Throwing eggs at a private property is juvenile behavior and we can do much better than that. Egging someone’s house sounds like the least productive way to get your point across and have your voices heard.



  1. As a person who is surrounded by activists who protest police brutality (I have a person in my network who is a member of the Los Angeles Brown Berets) and more conservative-leaning on this issue (people who repost #bluelivesmatter content), I'm very tempted to say, "I've never experienced this personally because I'm not an officer nor have I ever been abused by an y'all who know about this subject can just figure it out." But with every report I see on instances of police brutality and opinion pieces that defend the point of view of law enforcement, I find it increasingly hard to just click to another article and go about my business as usual.

    Reading your particular post brought a lot of thoughts that were at the back of my head to the surface. My liberal bias was instantly triggered ("Well blocking the 405 is just their way that people feel that the situation is so dire the issue needs to be addressed immediately, it's a way of putting pressure." "It shouldn't matter what his past record is, it's never okay to shoot someone if the person hasn't done anything.")

    But upon further reading ( I learned that Snell had a gun in his hand. I really hate admitting this, but I know that if it were me I would be scared out of my mind, too. And if I knew Snell had a previous record of shooting, the fear would be tenfold.

    Yet even knowing these facts, I still find myself resisting--the officer didn't have to shoot three times. Just once should be enough to immobilize him.

    This is definitely an issue I need to make an effort to research rather than just read headlines.

    But there is definitely one thing I agree with you: throwing eggs at the mayor won't accomplish anything.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly. There are much more productive ways to protest and get your point across than mindlessly egging those in power. If anything, such actions would do nothing but encourage people to either oppose or be apathetic towards your cause. We can be grown-ups and approach arguments and disagreements in a rational, cohesive manner.

  3. Heidi's right about needing to read more about the issue. In responding to your comment and your angle, however, I have to ask why reading about the death of another young black man and the degree of the racism in our police force leads you to conclude with "but then the poor mayor had to call someone to scrub eggs off of his Ford Fiesta!"
    Maybe in this context, it's not deserved. Maybe Snell was posing a threat to the lives of officers and it's naive to group him with all of the other deaths that happened by the hands of the LAPD this year.

    But why should it matter? I worry about people working harder to point out examples of NON-racism in police situations (and yes, this may be one of those cases) than to acknowledge that it is a very real problem that has existed for decades. Don't cry over smashed eggs, it isn't the real issue here. The mayor is going to be okay. We can't say the same for the black community.