Police shoot citizens, citizens shoot police. News sources replay clips displaying crying families of victims and passionate protesters chanting “Who do you protect? Who do you serve?” or “Hands up, don’t shoot.” From Michael Brown to Eric Garner to Tamir Rice, police have shot many, a majority of whom tend to be African American.
The spotlight shines on the racial undertones of all of these widely publicized incidents. Ultimately, the outcry is a result of a much larger picture of injustice against African American males: different treatment from civil authorities (i.e. the infamous stop-and-frisk), statistically larger prison sentences and a major achievement gap in both the school system and workplace.
However, we are currently choosing to not focus on racism, but instead on police brutality as a whole.
With the growing prevalence of police cameras both on cars and on the bodies of officers, it seems the recent violent and highly questionable, publicized incidents are rather avoidable.
It was a camera that caught the shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice. A police officer rushed to the scene, the grounds of a community center, to find the person with a gun was Rice with a nonlethal airsoft BB gun. Less than two seconds after arriving, the officer shot and killed Rice with a single shot to the torso. While the child was of large build and occasionally pointing the realistic toy, the situation could have been avoided, most likely, in the event of further questioning.
In the cases of both Michael Brown and of Eric Garner, there was potential threat to the officer or disregard of officer orders. However, the outrage sparked from the lack of logical, calm decisionmaking from the officers on call.
We, as citizens, expect these cases to be taken seriously. We need these cases investigated without the use of “image” or “perception” of the victim used in favor of involved officers. Whether it be NYPD or RPD, officers should handle every situation with the same consideration. Consider the dangerous to be dangerous, but remember lives are changed at the end of the barrel of a gun. Remember that the U.S. has a mile-long list of non-lethal weapons available. Remember “black lives matter.”
Police officers are expected to handle a variety of dangerous situations in order to “serve and protect” the public, meaning everyone. Therefore, training is essential for handling citizens–innocent, guilty or insane–in a just and proper manner.
When officers are found to have neglected their duty to remain calm, the media jumps in to feed us outrage. The emotional appeal utilized for increased view counts, the obviously biased portrayals of police/citizen encounters and the constant footage of enraged protesters make it easy for audiences of every color to find themselves upset.
The Mycenaean urges that while police brutality is a fatal and disconcerting issue, feeding the fire surrounding this pressing concern with biased views and violence against anyone is in no way helpful. However, we advocate unanimously that Americans, Raleighites and Loonies alike voice their concerns and leave apathy at the national door. Our tolerance must be reserved for those of different races, not those willing to carelessly erase them.