Imagine an unarmed Caucasian male lying dead in the middle of the street for hours, just after being shot for unknown reasons by a police officer. After his body was left in the street uncovered (not showing any dignity), it was rushed away in a suspicious unmarked SUV instead of a coroner’s van. Of course this would never happen in the wonderful country we call America. The problem is that this did happen; it happens every week in America against Black and Brown people. These unthinkable killings are a part of well-known epidemic called “police brutality”. Police brutality has been around for at least a hundred years.
Police brutality has always been a problem within the Brown and Black communities. Growing up, children in the brown and black communities originally were taught to never be alone with police officers or if being pulled over always remain silent. If a crime is committed against a brown or black person by a police officer it is well known that the police officer will usually get away with the crime committed. Every year there are 1,100 deaths associated with police brutality. These killings happen within the intercity or urban areas. The Justice Department filed 26,556 file complaints dealing with police brutalities in 2002.
This epidemic hits a little closer to home with me. I am outraged by the killings and not as a Black woman, but as a veteran of the United States military. As a veteran, I fought for the freedoms that The United States of America holds so deeply. Every person who lives in the U.S.A. has certain rights as a human being and no police officer has the right to violate those human rights. Police officers have lost focus on what their real job is, which is to protect the local streets, not to become a menace to society, or a thug or gangster with guns. As a veteran, I feel that the police officers who are committing these crimes against regular civilians need to be tried in a court of law, and the punishment should be to become a service member to the community for free.
Recently in Los Angeles, California, police officers were caught on camera punching a “special needs woman” in the face. The horrible action was taped by Jermaine Green who is an Army veteran. The police officer tried to take Green’s phone away from him to get rid of the evidence. The police officers asked if Green had any warrants out for him.
Green replied, “No, I am a veteran who just came back from a tour overseas.”
In an interview, Green spoke about the military and how it had certain rules and procedures on how to handle situations. Green also spoke about how a military person would face a Uniform Code Military Justice (UCMJ) if any of these difficult and dangerous procedures were broken (www.huffingtonpost.com/crime). When I was in the United States Air Force, we were warned that if we accidently shot a regular civilian or violated any person’s rights while deployed, it would fall under the Geneva Conventions. Any violations under the Geneva Conventions are grounds for that service member to be tried in court through the UCMJ. Military members are held by strict rules and police officers should have the same set of rules to live and work by.
After reading this article, one might think all police officers are bad individuals. Along with the police brutality against regular civilians, there is also brutality against good police officers who report abuses of power.
Laura Schook was fired for exposing corruption, Shanna Lopez was fired for reporting a cop who was a sexual predator, Joe Crystal was fired for turning in fellow cops for brutality, and Cariol Horne was fired for stopping a fellow cop from beating a handcuffed suspect. These upstanding officers are great examples of what integrity and workmanship is.
On 23 January 2015, Domenico Lillo (a Beyonne, New Jersey police officer) was arrested by the FBI for violating Brandon Walsh’s civil rights in an unwarranted attack. This one example gives a glimmer of hope that the federal government is trying to stop police brutality in the United States. Police officers should have to know the constitution along with the state and local laws, so there will not be a question of whether the police have violated any person’s human rights.
On April 4, 2015 Walter Scott an unarmed black man was shot and killed by a white police officer , Michael Slager. In Charleston, South Carolina. Slager claimed Scott grabbed his Taser and tried to run with it, leaving Slager no choice but to shoot and kill Scott. A bystander caught the whole intent on video and proves that the officer was lying about what happened. On April 10, 2015 the police department placed officer Slager under arrest and charged him with murder .
Sadly, police brutality is a continuing epidemic within the United States of American. I believe a restructuring of the police forces and how they are run is needed to change this problem. Retraining and a more detailed knowledge of state and federal laws is a must at this point. Also, demilitarizing is key; the government needs to not teach police forces the same moves and tactics that the military uses in war situations.
Antoinee Benjamin an Evergreen grad, mom, and is interested in food science.