If the next president of the United States really wants to help America, which they all claim to love above anything else, he or she ought to start with cracking down on police abuse of power. It’s a domestic issue that has been ignored election after election. It’s treated as a not-important issue because it mostly concerns inner city minorities who are treated as throwaways, a sector of the electorate with the least power in terms of election contributions and special interests. There are special interest groups representing everyone and everything, even private prisons have lobbying representation to build vast prison complexes in sparsely populated states but there is no lobbying group representing the rights and voices of inner city people who routinely clash with the police.
It is important to preface this with stating that the majority of police officers are good, brave and decent people who love the communities they protect and serve. But there are also a small fraction of police officers who have no compunction about using their badge as tool for oppression and abuse.When 12 year old Tamir Rice was shot and killed for playing with a toy gun that looked like a real gun, we have reached crisis point.Twelve years old! He was only playing in the snow with his sister, and the person that called 911 said the gun could be a toy gun and that person called the police out of an abundance of caution, not to cause the boy’s death. And of course, Timothy Loehmann, the officer involved in the shooting was a rookie officer, said that the boy startled him and he had no way of knowing if the gun was a toy gun or real gun and that the boy could have been 20 years old. Tamir Rice was not described to be a tall or large child, his face is definitely still childlike, granted, the orange safety valve on the toy gun was missing therefore making it look like a real gun, but are rookie police officers so poorly trained that they cannot tell the difference between a child and adult? Even if Tamir Rice looked older than 12, say 15 or 16, is it appropriate to shoot a 15 or 16 year old with a possible toy gun. Officer Loehmann claimed that he didn’t get the message that the gun may be a toy gun or that the suspect is a child, so again, he didn’t know, that is their get out of jail card: “I didn’t know”, “I was afraid for my life”, “I didn’t know that suspect wasn’t armed.” Cleveland police were reluctant to charge Timothy Loehmann, even though the corner declared Tamir Rice’s death as a homicide, no murder or manslaughter charges have been filed an investigation is still pending 5 months after the shooting. Tamir Rice’s body hasn’t even reached its final resting place as investigators aren’t sure if they need his body for further investigation, adding insult to injury to Tamir Rice’s family.
Ever since the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by George Zimmerman, a wannabe-cop, self-appointed neighborhood watch and trigger happy to boot, there seems what feels like an endless horror of white cops killing black men, young men, men in their prime and the cops seem to get off scot free as long as they utter the words ‘I was afraid for my life’, ‘I didn’t know he was unarmed’, ‘I didn’t know he was a minor’. Eric Garner, a father of 4 was choked to death by Officer Daniel Pantaleo, for selling loose cigarettes, yes, it is against the law to sell loose cigarettes, but is it necessary to put a man in a choke hold because he resisted arrest? And when he says ‘I can’t breathe’ why was that ignored? Of course the NYPD blues came out in force to protect their own, blaming the victim, saying that if he weren’t engaged in an illegal activity he wouldn’t be dead. Well, by that standard, any person that commits an unlawful or illegal activity and is apprehended by the police deserve to die if they don’t do exactly as the police say? Eric Garner was selling loose cigarets, which to my understanding is common but still illegal. He wasn’t committing a robbery, he wasn’t armed, he wasn’t in a fight, he wasn’t trying to kill someone and yet he was choked to death and couldn’t breath. The Grand Jury refuse to indict the officer because the officer didn’t mean to kill him and since he technically resisted arrest the officer was well within is rights to physically restrain him.
Mike Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was another case of an aggressive youth, unarmed, but due to his large and intimidating size, the office Darren Wilson again stated that he was afraid for his life, even though he’s the one that is armed, and that due to Mike Brown’s large size, it scared him. There seems to be a running narrative here: first, all these white officers have trouble telling what age these black kids are, second, they all use the same excuse that they were in fear of their lives even though the above mentioned people were unarmed, somehow, trained police officers have trouble differentiating if a suspect is armed or not and they are not taught a safe way to find out if a person is armed or not. They are reinforcing the stereotype that black boys always look older than they really are, and that they are all dangerous.
This type of brutal policing has to stop, the vicious cycle of arrest, incarceration and reoffending for black men has got to stop. The justice system was not designed to be a racist institution, it’s to the contrary, the US justice system is supposed to be dispassionate so that proper justice can be served. But inner city communities who do not have access to good representation and only have overworked public defenders as their only resource, each public defender has so many cases that he or she is just looking to get rid their cases off their desks, public defenders often recommend plea bargains to get rid of their cases. When a defendant accepts a plea bargain, it is the same as a guilty conviction, and now that defendant has a record. If the defendant hires his own attorney and insists on his day in court as is his right under the constitution, he may be acquitted or just receive probation.
When the results of an institution or criminal justice system disproportionately affects a certain minority group, that system or institution has become racist, it may not have started out that way and that may not have been the intent behind our criminal justice system to be racist, but as it stands today, it’s very safe to say that it is racist and unfair to those that are financially disadvantaged. A balance must be struck with effective policing and making sure communities are safe and the police overreaching and abusing their power because they have a gun and badge. Since all police carry guns in the United States, it’s safe to say that in any random probability, the police will be better armed than any suspect they meet.
The American people do not care that much about what happens with the Iran Nuclear Deal or what the erratic Iranian Regime says about Israel or which rebels they are backing militarily this month. The Ayatollah can mouth off his crazy talk or tweet his crazy words, Americans don’t care. Americans care about issues at home, health care access, contraceptive access for women, basic health care for all people, police brutality and abuse, jobs, education, everything that affects us here at home, right now.
So all the ladies and gentlemen running for president now, they need to pay attention to issues at home, it’s easy to divert the spotlight away from what’s important with what’s going on overseas and make it seem more important than what’s going on at home. It’s not going to work this time, the American public is sick of it, we want our next president to clean up our own backyard, to invest in our roads, to invest in our education and our children.