Truth vs. Meaning – When rubber bullets aren’t rubber, or bullets

This piece was originally posted on Wednesday, November 19,  on the Center For Story Based Strategy blog, where I am currently a Worker Justice Fellow. 


Last Friday St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar went on live public radio  to fire the latest volley in the battle of truth vs. meaning, which started with the first protests in Ferguson when people took to the streets calling for #JusticeforMikeBrown.

police

Referring to the early days of protest in Ferguson, Belmar said, “We didn’t use rubber bullets. If they’re actually rubber bullets, they’ll kill you. We did use tear gas. We did use smoke. We did use pepper balls — different things such as that. We did use armored trucks. But you know what? We didn’t use those on peaceful protesters. We used that on unfortunate criminal activity that spun out of the protest.”

This statement is a doing a few things at once:

  • Distancing police from violence that leads to death.
  • Bullets = death, so they deny any type of bullet was used.
  • Replacing the idea of rubber bullets with weapons that are not automatically linked to death, such as pepper balls.
  • Advancing a core frame of criminals and criminal activity.
  • Police force is justified when dealing with criminals.

Read the rest of the post here.

Can virtual reality save young Black people from a deadly reality? Palmer Luckey hopes so.

Residents of Ferguson, MO., who have been protesting the killing of teenager Mike Brown by a police officer Darren Wilson for almost two weeks, have a new and unlikely ally: Palmer Luckey.*

Ferguson, Mo. residents protesting the police shooting of unarmed Mike Brown. - courtesy of NBC News
Ferguson, Mo. residents protesting the police shooting of unarmed Mike Brown. – courtesy of NBC News

The 21 year-old inventor of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset is offering to outfit the Ferguson police department with special versions of the crowd funded device. White police officers can wear the headsets as they go about their policing business, but instead of seeing the people around them as they are, they will see and hear old white people.

According to a statement released by Oculus Rift, which was bought by Facebook in March for $2 billion,  making white police officers see elderly white people, “is intended to intercede on what many blame for the ongoing killing of young Black men by the police in the United States: implicit and explicit racial bias.”

Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset, at his workshop in Irvine, Calif.- courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.
Palmer Luckey, the creator of the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset, at his workshop in Irvine, Calif.- courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.

The statement continued, “According to recent research in race perceptions and bias, elderly white people trigger the least amount of bias in younger white police officers– the intended users of the headsets. By removing the trigger of bias and the accompanied perceived threat, the headset creates a situation where police officers can respond to actual circumstances, such as assessing whether a suspect is actually carrying a weapon and/or behaving in a threatening manor.”

Continue reading “Can virtual reality save young Black people from a deadly reality? Palmer Luckey hopes so.”