DISCLAIMER: I don’t know what the fuck this is. I live about ten minutes away from where Milton Hall was shot, so I guess this is my attempt at journalism — without sacrificing my love for (side-notes) and curse words.
If I had my own newspaper, this would be the page three editorial. And no one would read it. (Just like actual newspapers.)
Rodney King: The Battered Drunk Driver Who Inspired an Uprising.
On March 3, 1991, Rodney King had a few drinks and was out being a drunken driving asshole. King (who was on parole after serving time for armed theft) decided he was going to try and outrun the Los Angeles police that were tailing him and avoid picking up a drunk driving charge (bad idea.) A high speed chase pursued and Rodney’s escape attempt had attracted the attention of multiple police in the area – and a helicopter. When King finally pulled over, he was still being a dickhead (drunk) and wouldn’t get out of his vehicle. Rodney eventually complied, exited the car and followed the officer’s instructions to lie on the ground. When police rushed to seize him, he resisted and was subsequently tased. King, now immobile, was quickly beaten to a pulp with batons by the obviously irritated police officers. A small portion of the fiasco was caught on camcorder by a member of the community, recording right as King was down from the Taser. The clip of King getting pummeled by police received airplay on a global scale and was met with much public outrage.
Four officers faced trial for their roles in the beating. When tried at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, the jury failed to reach a verdict on one of the officers. The other three were acquitted of all charges. Up to this point, the Los Angeles police had already been pissing everybody off and protests were beginning– but the acquittals made all hell break lose. On April 29, 1992, protests turned to riots.
The angered masses lost their fucking minds. Businesses were looted and burned. Fifty-three people died and over two thousand more injured. It took the Marines, U.S. Army, National Guard, and the police to restore order. At the end of it all, the city had a billion dollars in financial losses. All because a group of cops needed to prove some sort of point through thwacking batons.
Eventually, the Federal Government swooped in and put the police officers on trial. Two out of four were convicted and served time. Rodney King went on to sue the city and eventually settled for $3.8 million. For Mr. King, being a victim of police brutality was probably the best thing that ever happened to him. He was able to live out the rest of his life being a drunk driving fuck-up without having to worry about robbing someone for cash ever again. He even landed a role on the Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew!
But being the victim of police brutality doesn’t always guarantee a million dollar settlement and higher standard of living. Just ask Saginaw, Michigan resident Milton Hall.
Oh wait, you can’t – because he’s dead.
Milton Hall: Target Practice for the Future Deskbound
On July 1st 2012, police were called in response to a homeless man, Milton Hall, after he reportedly spat on a convenience store clerk. Police arrived to the scene and found Hall waiving a knife around and shouting nonsense (being a crazed bum) in a nearby west Saginaw shopping center parking lot. Police tried to diffuse the situation, but Hall, who had a history of mental illness, was non-compliant and hostile. The situation started to gather attention as more officers arrived to the scene, making eight in total. The escalation and subsequent shooting can be seen in this amateur video from a passing motorist.
In the recording police repeatedly asked Hall to drop the knife and at one a point a female officer can be heard practically begging him to disarm. Undeterred and on a different mental plane altogether, Milton can be heard encouraging the police to “release that motherfucking dog.” When Milton started making violent gestures and taking steps towards an officer and canine unit, six Saginaw police opened fire – a reported forty-six or so times. Needless to say, they stopped Milton from getting too close to the dog.
Five police officers and one sergeant were immediately put on paid leave following the bullet storm. Within thirty days, all the police officers involved were back to work, albeit – on desk duty. Internal investigations were launched and the buzz surrounding the story could be heard on a national level. Civil Rights leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson caught wind of the story and both delivered speeches in Saginaw (because Milton Hall was black and his death offered a spotlight) – barking about justice, encouraging protests, and at one point Jackson offered an opinion that the Saginaw police “executed him in a kind of legal lynching.”
As the excitement over the Jackson and Sharpton visits wound down, Saginaw residents could do nothing but reserve judgment until the investigation concluded. On September 12th, 2012, Saginaw County Prosecutor Mike Thomas announced that he would not be filing charges. Thomas stated that the extensive, ten week investigation “did not yield enough evidence supporting the filing of criminal charges against the officers involved.” He later continued, “it is the decision of the prosecutor’s office that we do not believe that the arresting officers are chargeable for their actions.”
Despite public outcry, apparently Mike Thomas considers six police guns and forty-six shots with only eleven hits – completely justifiable to take down one bum with a knife. Perhaps if one of those extra bullets would’ve hit a passing citizen, he would have changed his mind. Maybe the cops would’ve received sixty days of paid leave instead.
While the police officers face little repercussions for their actions, many citizens are left in disbelief over a broken system. I’m not saying that Hall didn’t deserve to be shot. Given the situation, the police had every right to shoot him once, twice, or maybe even three times. Forty-six shots fired to subdue one man with a knife is an unacceptable and dangerous way to conduct police business. The beat down of Rodney King was much more justifiable than the massacre of Milton Hall, and as previously stated… that incident led to full-scale riot.
As of September 13th, many feel (self-included) that justice has not been served. Only time will tell if the violent actions of the Saginaw Police will cause an equal or greater reaction from the residing public. So far, zero uprisings have been started on the behest of Milton Hall. Considering the condition of Saginaw, a riot wouldn’t send much of message anyways. Shuttered businesses can’t be looted.
A city that’s already broken can’t be destroyed.
And at this point, who would dare to square off against the Saginaw P.D.?