• Adventures In Double Standards: MOVE Edition.

    A few weeks ago, I wanted to make a compare/contrast between how authorities were handling the Oregon standoff led by Ammon Bundy and the standoff led by members of MOVE. I wound up not doing it not only because reading and researching what happened on May 13, 1985 angered me in a way very few things do, but because I knew people would point out there wasn't a direct connection. Whereas the so-called "showdown" at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge involved federal authorities (most notably the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), the MOVE bombing involved the Philadelphia Police Department (and with the blessing of Philadelphia's first black mayor, Wilson Goode).

    Nevertheless, the two events provide yet another stark contrast as to how authorities throughout the nation deal with perceived threats. Whereas Philly's finest elected to use extraordinary force when dealing with MOVE, resulting in 11 dead, 65 houses destroyed and over 250 people rendered homeless, the feds chose to wait out the Oregon standoff, only using the absolute minimum amount of force when left with no other choice.

    It's no secret that authorities often choose to ratchet up the force continuum faster when dealing with black individuals and black groups, but where they start out on the force continuum is often higher than where their white peers start out. In other words, LEOs have proven to not just escalate faster and with more force when dealing with black suspects, but also hold them with a higher level of suspicion to begin with.

    In short:

    It's true that the feds were feeling (and still feel) gun-shy about how to handle standoffs in the wake of Ruby Ridge and Waco, but the leniency of which the self-described militiamen at the heart of the event were treated still rankles the nerves of every black person who knew that a black group conducting itself under the same circumstances would not get the same courtesy.