Posted by: Ophelia | August 8, 2008

Disproportionate Rage

Imagine that you pick up a package addressed to your home. Next thing you know, undercover police officers break into your home, shoot your dogs, and refuse to believe that you’re uninvolved in a drug ring. Completely frightening and horrible, right?

Imagine that you’re in your home with your children when police enter with guns drawn and open fire on you–and your children.

One story is making the rounds–the other not so much. Care to guess why?

In the case of the mistaken drug ring operatives, the victims were the mayor of Berwyn Heights and his wife. The package contained 32 pounds of marijuana that didn’t belong to the couple.

Police say the couple appeared to be innocent victims of a scheme by two men to smuggle millions of dollars worth of marijuana by having it delivered to about a half-dozen unsuspecting recipients.

The police actually held the mayor and his mother in law, in handcuffs, for two hours after they entered the home and shot the dogs.

“Our dogs were our children,” said the 37-year-old Calvo. “They were the reason we bought this house because it had a big yard for them to run in.” (Yahoo)

In the case of Tarika Wilson, officers entered the home looking for her boyfriend and moments later opened fire.

Some facts are known. A SWAT team arrived at Ms. Wilson’s rented house in the Southside neighborhood early in the evening of Jan. 4 to arrest her companion, Anthony Terry, on suspicion of drug dealing, said Greg Garlock, Lima’s police chief. Officers bashed in the front door and entered with guns drawn, said neighbors who saw the raid.

Moments later, the police opened fire, killing Ms. Wilson, 26, and wounding her 14-month-old son, Sincere, Chief Garlock said. One officer involved in the raid, Sgt. Joseph Chavalia, a 31-year veteran, has been placed on paid administrative leave.

Beyond these scant certainties, there is mostly rumor and rage. The police refuse to give any account of the raid, pending an investigation by the Ohio attorney general.

During the raid, Ms. Wilson’s youngest son, Sincere, was shot in the left shoulder and hand. Three weeks after the shooting, he remains in fair condition, said a spokeswoman at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus.

(New York Times)

The New York Times felt it was necessary to include the fact that Wilson had six children fathered by five men–all drug dealers. They also offer a quote from Tarika’s sister that she never took drugs or allowed them to be dealt out her home.

So here we have two cases in which people who were not using or selling drugs who were subject to drug raid levels of police force that resulted in death. Mayor Cheye Calvo and his wife Trinity Tomsic lost their dogs that they considered as children (note the photo they have of themselves with the dogs in the AP photo from their press conference). Tarika Wilson lost her life, her children lost their mother, her family lost a daughter and a sister. Yet the overall levels of outrage and news coverage seem to indicate that if our dogs are no longer safe–now we must be outraged.

To take a point from The Message blog, is this an example of the two Americas?

The experience of Mayor Calvo and his wife had to have been incredibly traumatic and was essentially a sanctioned violation of their rights. They did nothing more than bring in a package and suddenly the (unannounced and ununiformed) police were invading their space and killing their dogs.

At the same time–what makes them any different than the Tanika Wilson’s of the world–equally innocent and more routinely harmed by police?

*More about Tanika Wilson at Womanist Musings



  1. YOu’re sadly mistaken if you think drugs were never sold in Wilson’s house. Why were the two pit bulls there? Wilson’s kids all had drug dealer daddies, and while she might not have taken any (yeah, right), it’s impossible to believe that no drugs were sold from that house.

  2. I decided to let this comment slip in to demonstrate something that isn’t going to fly here. Don’t bring your victim blaming bullshit here. One could use the same logic about a couple that just happens to have a package of pot addressed to their home. Coincidences and suppositions do not make these logic leaps kosher. Save it.

    Also: only drug dealers have pit bulls? Learn something new every day.

  3. Ophelia,
    I’m not sure where you’ve been if you haven’t read about the Lima incident all over the place. Why are you trying to make these two incidents into an example of some larger racial problem?
    The problem is that drug dealers try to fool the police. Sometimes they succeed, sometimes they fail. They succeeded in making the police beleive that this mayor and his wife were drug dealers too. It sucks that they lost their dogs. But I didn’t hear about any cops being suspended over it.
    Obviously it is a different situation entirely in Lima. To lose a mother is unspeakable. That is why the cop there is suspended and his case is going through the criminal justice system.
    The Lima incident was obviously taken more seriously. Please don’t make the comparison into something that its not.

  4. I don’t mean to bite your head off but obviously the two incidents are different. However, the national media covered one incident more thoroughly than the other. People are outraged over the mayor situation and do want action taken against the officers and have opined that they no longer feel safe under their protection. Not to say that the mayor’s experience wasn’t traumatic but hence the title of the post. The reaction is disproportionately more sympathetic towards the loss of dogs. Look above you and you’ll see someone blaming Wilson for her own death.

    Most of what I’ve heard about the Lima incident has been in the blogosphere–and I watch local and cable news regularly. I’ve heard more about the Mayor’s situation that I heard about Lima in the same outlets. Obviously your experience has been different. If this is the case, then no, you may not have noticed the disproportionate reaction cited in the post.

  5. OK I’m replying 10 days late but for christ’s sake, is doesn’t matter if the dude was a drug dealer, they shot an unarmed woman and her goddam child. Good one.

    I do think it’s a fair example of violence against black people not counting as much in the media, but that’s probably because I think it’s blatantly obvious even without examples like this.

    Though I wish people could look at things like this without belittling the connection people have with their pets. No, it’s not “as important” as humans but no one’s holding guns to a human and dog’s head forcing you to choose. “They’re like my kids” sounds trite but I’d definitely save my dogs over a strange human, sorry.

    Oh, and they’re pit bulls. I’m not a drug dealer, nor do I partake in any other illegal activity. Arsehole.

  6. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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