I’ve been wanting to write about this for some time now. After watching the choke out of Eric Gardner, reading about the shooting of Michael Brown, and, now more recently, the death of Walter Scott, I felt compelled to write something. I encourage you to watch the videos – as graphic as they are. Read the articles. I don’t know of the best way to approach this post, how to make it effective. At the end I want you to care. I want you to be upset that we are just barely scratching the surface. I want you to question what you accept as truth. I’m not even sure what I should do other than write this post. There is always something more to be done. It wasn’t that long ago that Rodney King was beaten so badly that LA broke out in a riot.
There seems to be a proliferation of police shootings as of late and the public is demanding, even protesting, that changes should be made. One thing is certain, deaths aren’t being fabricated and you can howl that the media is taking advantage of a fluid situation, but this should be a time to address an issue. To move in the right direction, after all, people are dying and we should care about that.
First off, there is no database that details all of the police shootings. Does that seem odd? We have stats on everything, but there is no requirement for police precincts to provide to the public the number of police killings (Deadspin (of all sites) is compiling a database of its own). How can that be? There is no accountability. Imagine what would be going on in South Carolina right now if the bystander would not have recored the killing of Walter Scott – nothing. A family would be hurt. An officer would fill out some paperwork and be at work the next day. No conversation. This happens more often than not. A officer kills someone, he tells the details, case closed.
If you think its not an issue, then you trust in your government, nationally and locally, way too much. People are fallible. We may have some of the “smartest” and “best” people leading us, but no one is immune to mistakes and oversight. It may be easier to accept naivety and proclaim that we are led by pure, altruistic men and women, but you’d be lying to yourself. We give an incredible amount of responsibility and power to our government. It’s on us to be a watchdog. It’s an imperfect system, led by the imperfect. Greed and corruption is rampant across the world and in this country as well. We are not immune to what we see abroad. This country was built out of tyranny. We had a healthy dose of fight and skepticism of the government that was ruling this land hundreds of years ago. And often on the front lines are those who are protecting our freedoms. However, more transparency is absolutely critical for great accountability and saved lives.
I don’t know what it is like to have my life threatened, but at the same time have those who make policies and decisions for the nation? Often times not, but we can all sympathize and have perspective, but we should be able to have an open dialogue to seek understanding. I am grateful for the liberties and protection that I do enjoy, but that doesn’t mean I cannot question the rules and means made and taken to secure this privileges. We cannot be complacent with where we are; there are always dirty corners that need to be swept. Officers are too quick to pull the trigger and aggressively.
This isn’t just in Missouri, New York, or South Carolina — its everywhere.