Friday, December 19, 2014

The Good Guys Don’t Wear Badges (Part 3)

   The fact that I had to write a “Part 3” to this topic is extremely disheartening. I have always known, and spoke about, an element that exists within the police departments of America that has eroded trust and garnered fear when dealing with the public. To say the police are out of control is becoming an understatement. They seem to be operating by an entirely different set of standards, sanctioned by the powers that be, to enforce their will…regardless of the law.

   The narrative now is that they care nothing for the lives of young Black men. The truth is even worse…they care nothing about the lives of anyone under their authority. To frame this problem as solely a race issue is fallacious. Are there racist cops enforcing the law by their own worldview? Of course. The recent outing of two Florida cops revealed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan is proof enough that this element still exists. So I really can’t blame anyone of color when they see the recent rash of deadly incompetence as merely an extension of a racist agenda carried out behind the badge. But we can also never forget Kelly Thomas and all the other non-Black victims of a police force gone wild.

   That said, the dominating stories of recent discussion are painting a picture that is tragic and inexcusable by nearly everyone’s standards (except, of course, the police).

   The death of Michael Brown is mired in controversy, even though there are people that refuse to acknowledge it. The basis of the controversy is the conflicting eyewitness testimony. The assumption of one side or the other being true is just that. Could there have been witnesses coerced into or racially motivated to supporting testimony of Darren Wilson? Sure. Could there have been witnesses willing to incriminate Wilson because he was not liked within the neighborhood he patrolled? Sure. While answers still come to light, one thing remains clear…the death of Brown and process that followed after, has not helped the public mistrust of police or the system that seemingly refuses to hold them accountable.

   The death of Eric Garner is a lot less controversial thanks to the reliable eyewitness testimony of video. Although people will still look at it and see different things (it’s just the nature of people), there is simply no question, in my mind, that a jury should have been deciding the issue…especially with a coroner’s ruling of death by homicide. In the current climate sweeping the country where the people wearing the badges are not seen as the good guys, I just don’t understand the blatant disregard for human life and equitable distribution of due process.

   The death of John Crawford III is another example of the blatant disregard law enforcement has for the lives taken under questionable circumstances. In this case there is a clear misrepresentation of Crawford from the very 911 call that brought the police into action. Video shows he was not threatening anyone with the gun. Further, if he had been the menace as described by the caller, with so many people in the store in periodic proximity to Crawford, there would likely have been multiple calls to 911. Where is the prosecution of Ronald Ritchie for this? Why is there no accounting for the difference in testimony with the video evidence by both Ritchie and the police? In an open carry state, why was this situation not handled in a manner that reflects this law? Too many questions without adequate answers can only serve to inflame the unpopular narrative representing law enforcement. 

   The death of twelve year old Tamir Rice, again caught on video, is probably the most heinous of these incidents given the age of the victim and manner in which he was killed. Now that there is some back story to the cops involved (they were incompetent), it makes sense, but is no less tragic or excusable, the way it all unfolded. No lights and sirens from the cruiser. No warning by police from a safe distance to give Tamir a chance to comply. No common sense used at all by the police or by those charged with regulating them.

   Speaking of regulation, take note…then take action, against any legislature outlawing the filming of the police. There is absolutely no sane reason to prohibit the filming of police except to hide those instances where they abuse their authority. While some politicians might think prohibiting the gathering of evidence “solves” the problem, intelligent people know better.

   The question of racial motivation inducing the above referenced deaths is really not the issue. The issue is the “good guys” don’t seem to be all that good anymore and when their actions are questionable, nobody in a position of power is holding them accountable for the answers. If this is going to be the modus operandi of those charged with our safety, then it’s time to exercise some people power and make sure we are safe from those in charge.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post! As the instances pour in–now on a daily basis–that add to the growing list of police-instigated fatalities indeed show the contempt and predatory nature of a police force that kills with impunity and without consequence. Whats worse, the problem escalates as most metropolitan police arm themselves, with armor, armored assault vehicles and military grade weaponry. An increasingly fearful (and justifiably scared) populace gears up for what is a coming war, and becomes a burgeoning arms race that won't end well for any of us. The only hope is to reform accountability so that police officers are held to the same standards and laws our citizens are being killed over daily.

    Otherwise, this situation will end as apocalyptically tragic and bad as we could possibly imagine.