One of the most insidious problems that we have in this country is that our laws do not protect, judge or sentence equally; people of color. This issue is borne out by statistical facts. Laws may have changed on the books because of the Civil Rights movement, but a lot of those advances have been rescinded or marginalized by politicians, and a politicized Supreme Court (i.e., the roll back of the Voting Rights Act).
People of color are disproportionately (based on the crimes they may or may not have committed) brutalized, injured or killed by officers and incarcerated in this country at a rate almost double that of whites being suspected, arrested and/or charged for similar crimes. These statistics are of comparisons against other proposed criminals, NOT the supposed law-abiding population. No. No one believes that criminals should not be held accountable for their crimes.
To see the stark delineation in reaction you need look no further then the white, heavily armed ranchers who took over a federal building. Had they been black, or even Indians, (who actually have a sovereign right to that land based on treatises signed by our government), the scenario would have played itself out very differently.
In fact, they might all be "justifiably", and "legally" dead by now.
Instead, these criminals are being treated with kid gloves and respect. They are criminals. They have, some repeatedly, broken the law. Let's not make it something that it is not. They are perpetrating a crime. However, they are not being overrun with militarily clad police officers in full "war regalia" as is often seen as the "first response" to a peaceful protest.
The militarization of our police force benefits no one but the arms dealers and their political cohorts who profit from those sales. That type of militarization is exactly the path that was taken in Germany that formed the Gestapo who were power hungry, viscious proponents of the "law"; who started out as simple "cops" and morphed into one of the most brutal, militarized police forces in history.
We, barely, even train our police officers in conflict resolution anymore. They are mostly trained on how to kill with weapons designed for war. Police officers are not the military. They are here to police the citizens on our streets; not hunt down and kill an enemy. Our citizens may break the law for which they should be apprehended, tried and punished; but they are not, and should not be "the enemy".
Without due process, oversight, regulation and accountability, we all wind up living with the truth of the saying..."absolute power corrupts absolutely".
Our police force is verging on that absolute line of corruption. It is completely evident in so many incidents that, unnecessarily, escalate into violence. It is all officers know, it is all they are trained for, and so, of course, it is how they respond. And, it is wrong.
It is not much different than what happened over 50 years ago on a bridge in Selma. Police brutality happens every day, quietly and unreported on the streets of America. Racism is still alive and thriving in this country. People have to rip off their blinders and stop saying that there is no racism and no abuse of power. That is what is so frustrating. White people need to own the fact that we live in a privileged world. We need to own that the majority of us would cross to the other side of the street at night if a black man was walking towards us. For no reason other than fear he is a criminal and with no basis in fact. He may just be walking home from his job or walking to the local convenience store.
Without admitting to the existence of this problem, there can be no real, viable solution.
Racism and fear of "other" is deeply, insidiously, buried in our global, white privilege culture and denying it continues to make it fester.
Racism hasn't really changed in this country since the 1960's, it has just gotten better at hiding itself inside the loopholes of a flawed judicial system so that it appears "legal".
Hopefully, with more young artists, writers and performers like Sarah O'Neal, whose voices are strong and true, this societal racism will change, permanently.
"To serve and protect", a slogan adopted by the Los Angeles Police Department, the year Martin Luther King marched on Washington, D.C., should be a vocation to assist everyone in a given community. If, you can not honestly adhere to that, you shouldn't be a cop, or if it becomes obvious during the course of your duties that you cannot, you should be discharged of your duties.
Instead, more often than not, we reward or at the very least do not prosecute that inability to adhere to that vocation. For the most part "to serve and protect" is just a meaningless slogan stenciled on a car door.
Many of the police forces of today seem only to represent a repression of freedom of speech; a repression of our right as citizens to gather and protest social injustice.
You take that right to protest away and you really have taken away our ability to combat tyranny. Forget bearing arms against a tyrannical government...
Our collective voices are much more powerful...
IN HONOR of MARTIN LUTHER KING, and all those fighting to end social injustice...