On Tuesday, the Texas Department of Public Safety released the arrest video of Sandra Bland, the 28-year-old black woman found dead three days later after allegedly hanging herself in jail.
The dashcam video shows an officer pulling Bland over, the two becoming belligerent with one another after the officer asks her to put out her cigarette and ordering her to exit her vehicle, and the officer threatening to Taser her before arresting her. Off-camera, Bland and the officer can be heard yelling at one another, with Bland calling the officer a “motherf***er” and accusing him of slamming her head into the ground.
The video has made headlines across the nation, although there is no factual linkage at this point in time between the circumstances of arrest and those surrounding Bland’s death: the police investigate all jail-cell deaths as murders, but Bland posted videos of herself talking about battling depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and her parents did not bail her out of jail.
Meanwhile, in Gardena, California, a court ordered the release of a tape showing police officers shooting Ricardo Diaz Zeferino, a man who had surrendered to police. The litigation over the case ended with Gardena paying Zeferino’s family some $4.7 million. Two Latino men were riding their bicycles on the street when officers responded to a report of two Latino men who had stolen a bicycle. The officers pulled the two over; at that point, Zeferino ran up to the two men. The Los Angeles Times reports:
Only later would [the officer] learn that Diaz Zeferino’s brother owned the stolen bicycle, the two men initially stopped were not involved in the robbery and that it wasn’t a robbery at all. A dispatcher mistakenly told officers the theft was a robbery, which typically involves weapons or force.
Zeferino was ordered by the officers to keep his hands above his head; he failed to comply. Later autopsy tests showed alcohol and meth in his system. As the Times states, “He drops and raises his arms repeatedly, showing the officers his hands and stepping backward and then forward a few paces. A laser dot from an officers’ pistol can be seen on his shirt. After Diaz Zeferino removes a baseball cap from his head, officers standing to the side of the men unleash a volley of gunfire.”
The amount of national scrutiny regarding the Gardena shooting remains non-existent. The case of Sandra Bland is making international headlines.
That’s likely because of the race of the victim in Gardena: non-black. When former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) said at Netroots Nation over the weekend that “all lives matter,” he was booed off stage and later apologized. He should have stuck to “black lives matter,” he said. Professor Marc Lamont Hill of Morehouse College told CNN that O’Malley’s comment that “all lives matter” was “stupid.” Hill explained:
If there are two houses on a hill, one is on fire, I’m not going to scream out, “All houses matter!” I’m going to put out the fire in the one that’s on fire. Right now, there’s a fire in the black community.
But when it comes to cases of police brutality, the notion that such cases exist exclusively or even wildly disproportionately in the black community simply isn’t true. Statistically speaking, police are less likely to kill black suspects than white suspects after adjusting for crime rates. The failure of the media to cover Gardena while covering what seems to be, at least for the moment, a case of a police officer being a power-hungry jackass and a black woman committing suicide, demonstrates the double standard pushed by the media. For the media, and for the Black Lives Matter movement, other lives don’t seem to matter.
Sandra Bland trends on Twitter; President Obama speaks about Trayvon Martin, who tried to pound a man’s head into pavement, and Michael Brown, who grabbed a cop’s gun after attacking him. Americans know the names Eric Garner and Walter Scott. Nobody knows the name of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, the homeless illegal immigrant Mexican shot by police in Pasco, Washington, while running down the street under disputed circumstances.
For the media, some lives do matter more than others. Whatever forwards the narrative of racial injustice against black Americans takes precedence; other lives, whether white, brown, or blue, take a back seat.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.