Charles Barkley made some news during his appearance on Inside the NBA last night. There are two clips here, the first of which is Barkley talking about the slogan “defund police.”
Charles Barkley: “You know, I hear these fools on TV talking about ‘defund the police’ and things like that. So that notion they keep saying that … I’m like, wait a minute. Who are Black people supposed to call — Ghostbusters? When we have crime in our neighborhoods?” pic.twitter.com/RXvrelILxJ
— Mona Salama (@MonaSalama_) September 25, 2020
He’s absolutely right and I suspect there are a significant number of black Americans who agree with him on this point. There are ways to support things like sending trained counselors to calls involving people with mental health issues (think Daniel Prude) without taking that money away from the police. All defunding the police is likely to accomplish is allowing criminals to victimize more people because their aren’t enough cops to respond to service calls.
But the other comment Barkley made last night is getting even more attention. He said that the Breonna Taylor case was different from the death of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. “You know we do have to take into account that her boyfriend did shoot at the cops and shot a cop,” Barkley said. As you’ll see in this clip, Shaq agreed with him on that point.
But today a number of people have reacted strongly to Barkley’s comments including Jemele Hill and also one of the hosts from The Breakfast Club radio show who suggested Barkley didn’t know what he was talking about.
This is a tougher call because I’m sympathetic to the claim that Kenneth Walker may not have done anything wrong. His story is that he heard some pounding at the door and feared it was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend or someone working with him coming to threaten her. He further claims that both he and she shouted for the person at the door to identify themselves and they never got a reply. So when the door was busted open he fired a shot fearing the worst. He was a legal gun owner defending himself and his girlfriend in their home. That’s what he claims happened and if it’s true then he was acting within his rights.
Legally, Walker may have been justified under the circumstances, but once he fired that shot the police on the other end of the hallway were also justified in firing back. And Taylor was unfortunately caught in the return fire. She shouldn’t be dead but there’s no way it makes sense to charge cops who were shot at (and hit) with murder or even manslaughter for returning fire.
Anyway, that’s why I think Shaq and Barkley are right that this case is different. In the Taylor shooting both sides arguably had justification for what they did that night.
Finally, here’s body cam video released today of the moments immediately after the shooting. Police are outside the apartment, trying to help the officer who was shot in the leg and are clearly not sure he’s going to make it.
Update: Stuff like this from the Root doesn’t help:
“Mind you, Chuck is talking about an innocent Black woman who was killed in her sleep after police entered her apartment with a no-knock warrant.”
She wasn’t killed in her sleep. She was in the hallway near the front door. Police did have a no-knock warrant but they did knock, waking Taylor and Walker, both of whom were out of bed when the shooting happened.