How will we solve this problem that our nation is having with our police shooting black folks who are either guilty of nothing or of committing a petty criminal act? The list grows and grows. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling and many, many more. It looks like the police are on a secret campaign to rid themselves of black people. It looks intentional. There is a certain consistent order of events. Someone defies authority in some small way and this defiance is used as an excuse to escalate, to get the man or woman who dares to fight back verbally or act defensively to look guilty of something. Then someone off camera shouts “he’s got a gun” (not usual when women are being apprehended). Then the shots ring out and there is no need for a trial or imprisonment or any official routine because the person is dead. Surprisingly the body cameras which these officers wear are often off or aimed in the wrong direction when events reach their terrible denouement.
I understand that law enforcement becomes more and more complicated as the inequalities in our culture are exposed to the light of day. I know that there are those in our communities who have committed criminal acts to get ahead when traditional pathways were closed to them. I get it that there are some mean folks out there who would as soon kill a policeman as any other human being who they felt was threatening them. I suppose that mistakes will be made. However, when the “mistakes” seem to occur frequently and when they seem to follow a certain pattern it would appear that some action plan is called for to make it stop.
If black people are not being targeted we must at least face the bad, bad optics of these now-all-too-familiar shootings with their attendant grief and loss. There are echoes that go back to slavery with people hunting down their runaway slaves. We must stop doing this. We must find some new ways to help our policemen and women fight crime in our communities without executing people who seem to hardly qualify as the most dangerous people on our streets. I believe that if we can’t find a way out of this brutal and unjust law enforcement behavior that peaceful demonstrations will eventually turn into angry outcries. We know that the police involved will be investigated and we know how the investigation will end. If we find our police guilty in these cases we undermine their authority.
This relatively new pattern of picking off people one-by-one is exacerbated by our guns everywhere policies enforced by the gun industry and the NRA and a Conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment. The complications and divisions present in our culture at this moment will make it difficult to resolve this issue. Anger is the emotion that seems to be driving current events. It doesn’t matter because these shootings and the fact that they seem to fall all too often on Americans of color is a stain on our nation that could eventually destroy the freedom that is the pillar of our Democracy.
The work must be done in our communities and what we must provide young Americans of African Descent and poor Americans are pathways to a better future so that they will not be forced into antisocial behaviors by circumstances that make their lives difficult and seemingly without value. We don’t need to talk any longer about doing this. We do need to talk to plan what we will do. Then we need to put our money where our mouths are and carry out our plans. Our plans will not be perfect. It is the very nature of humans that we are cannot be perfect. We can’t allow ourselves to be so nervous about possible negative effects that will appear down the line. We must earnestly try to solve the inequalities in our America or America will fail.