When a white guy is seen wandering around in public waving a gun, the police usually try to talk him down; he’s probably just having a bad day. Even if the white guy happens to be pointing his gun directly at an officer, his interaction with the police is unlikely to end in the exchange of gunfire. This is called white privilege.
Recent history suggests there’s a certain methodology for how police handle nearly identical gun-related incidents: white guys get arrested, while black guys get shot. Outraged? If not, you need to pay attention.
1. Armed White Guy Has Standoff With Police, Then Gets His Gun Back
Last May, an armed Michigan man had a standoff with the police as he stood in front of a Dairy Queen waving a loaded rifle around and angrily shouting. When cops arrived, the man, Joseph Houseman, refused to identify himself, grabbed his crotch, flipped the bird, and cursed them out. Houseman was intoxicated and didn’t have an ID. For 40 minutes, the police tried to get the belligerent man to put his weapon down. All the while, he was screaming, “The revolution is coming,” and accusing the cops of being a “gang.” He told the police he had a legal right to “threaten” police officers and their families.
Excerpt from their encounter:
JOSEPH HOUSEMAN: That’s my First Amendment right.
POLICE: No it’s not. You can’t swear.
HOUSEMAN: That’s bullshit. I can threaten you if I want to.
POLICE: That’s incorrect.
HOUSEMAN: I can threaten you. I can threaten your family. I didn’t threaten your family; I said I could.
POLICE: You said a war was coming.
HOUSEMAN: I didn’t say a war was coming.
POLICE: You said a revolution is coming.
HOUSEMAN: Think about it. You know it is.
When Houseman refused a Breathalyzer test, officers decided not to give him his gun back. Instead, he was told to come to the police station and claim it the next day. He did, and his gun was safely returned.
2. White Guy Points Gun at Police Officers and Children During Hour-Long Standoff
In August, a San Diego man got out of his parked car with a loaded 9mm pistol and proceeded to point it at police officers and small children who were playing in a local park. The police proceeded to spend the next hour trying to talk the man, Lance Tamayo, into putting down his weapon.
Can you guess the man’s race? That’s right, he’s a white guy!
As terrified children were forced to hide in the bathroom, Tamayo rushed toward the officers with his weapon pointed at them and at a police helicopter flying overhead.
Eventually, an officer shot Tamayo once in the stomach to put him down. He fell to the ground, but his gun remained within reach. The police then called Tamayo on his cell phone and spoke with him for 15 minutes before he agreed to surrender. He was arrested and charged with exhibiting a firearm in the presence of peace officers.
3. White Man Arrested Twice For Road Rage With a Gun
In October, a Tennessee man was arrested for waving a loaded gun during a road rage incident involving another man and his son. E.J. Watson confronted the pair when they came to a stop, exited his vehicle with his pistol tucked in the front of his pants and was very belligerent, cursing and making derogatory remarks.
The victims called 911, and police pulled Watson over a few miles from the weapon-wielding episode. His car was littered with empty beer cans as well as a loaded Smith & Wesson revolver. Watson refused to exit his vehicle and had to be physically removed. Only three months earlier, he was arrested for a separate drunken road rage incident.
Good thing for Watson he was white—otherwise he might not be alive today.
4. White Guy Arrested for Firing BB Gun at Officers
A 22-year-old from New Hampshire faces one count of reckless conduct afterfiring a BB gun at Concord police in September. The two police officers were making a routine traffic stop at an intersection when the man opened fire from a nearby apartment building. They arrested the culprit, Jesse Deflorio, who was on already on probation for a similar incident. The judge residing over the case commented that he was worried about the white guy’s safety following the most recent BB gun-firing episode. Poor white guy.
Tamir Rice, 12, was walking around a Cleveland park, holding a toy gun that uses nonlethal plastic pellets. A police cruiser pulled up and within two seconds Rice was shot and killed by rookie officer Timothy Loehmann.
5. Two White Men Shoot Up Walmart With BB Gun and Live to Tell the Tale
Two Idaho men were taken into custody after shooting up a Walmart with a BB gun. Both were intoxicated. They walked into the Post Falls Walmart and proceeded to remove BB guns from boxes, before loading one and firing it four times while in the store. Walmart security contacted police, saying the two men “started shooting the gun in the store and made comments that they were going to shoot the store up.” According to one Walmart employee, the drunken men approached him and asked if he wanted to join them in their shooting spree.
The two white guys were taken into custody without incident, instead of being shot and killed on the spot.
However, on August 5, John Crawford III was shopping at a Walmart in Dayton, Ohio when he picked a BB rifle off the shelf from the sporting goods section. As he walked around the store fiddling with the gun and talking on his cell phone, another shopper called police to report a black man carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. The shopper told police that Crawford, “looked like he was going to go violently.” Crawford was shot and killed by police while in the store.
On the 911 call, the dispatcher can be heard saying “Walmart, a black male, six foot, wearing a blue shirt, blue pants, in the …section, holding a gun, pointing…”
There you have it: in two incidents involving men carrying BB guns in the same chain store: the white men were arrested and the black man was killed.
6. White Guy Arrested After Pointing Gun at Pennsylvania Police Officers
Just this month,Pennsylvania State Police arrested a man after he reportedlypulled a gun on officers. Jed Frazier had driven his car off the road into a ditch. When police approached the vehicle, the man pulled a handgun from his coat pocket and pointed it at police.
Officers took shelter and tried to talk the man into dropping his loaded weapon. Finally, the police broke the windows of his car, extricated the man and arrested him, all without firing a shot.
Want to guess the man’s race?
7. White Woman Dressed In Body Armor Arrested After Shooting Into Cars and Pointing Gun at Police
It’s not just white guys who get all the privilege—sometimes white women do as well.
Just before the new year, a Tennessee woman was arrested after driving around shooting at passersby, leading police on a chase and pointing her gun at an officer. Two people were at a stop sign when Julia Shields pulled up in a sedan and fired shots into their vehicle, hitting and disabling the radiator. A rash of 911 calls reported Shields pointing her firearm at people as she passed, and firing at another vehicle in the same area. Once cops arrived, she led them on a short chase.
Fortunately for Shields, she is white and was arrested without incident or injury.
8. White Man Arrested After Pointing Gun at Phoenix Firefighters During Hour-Long Standoff
A mentally disturbed white man was arrested in Phoenix after pointing a gun at firefighters during an hour-long standoff. Steven Whitlock opened his apartment door with a gun in his hand when firefighters stopped by to conduct a welfare check. The firefighters dropped their equipment and ran for cover. Whitlock then grabbed their equipment and barricaded himself in his apartment.
Police engaged in an hour-long standoff with Whitlock, before forcing themselves into his apartment and taking him into custody.
Compare that with what happened to Kajieme Powell, who was shot and killed by St. Louis police after walking toward them with a knife while screaming, “Shoot me, kill me now.”
Police ordered the mentally disturbed black man to drop the knife, and when he didn’t they shot him. So much for trying to talk him down; as long as the perpetrator is black, officers can shoot first, and ask questions later.