I have not previously entered into the foray of accusations of police brutality, stemming from Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Though I was appalled by both deaths and the subsequent acquittals of the police officers, I did not personally speak out-other than doing a moment of silence before a congregational sermon. Seeing that there was recently another incident, resulting in the death of Tony Robinson in Madison, Wisconsin, I have decided to speak out.
I am angered by the fact that men of color are being killed by police officers (or by vigilantes as in the case of George Zimmerman) who are being acquitted of any wrongdoing. It makes me feel rightly or wrongly that we have not come so far from 50 years ago, when African Americans were beaten with billy clubs on a march from Selma to Birmingham to protest their being denied the right to vote. While each of the cases I cited (as well as all the numerous others of police brutality) should be examined on an individual basis, there is clearly a disturbing pattern: black men dead, white officers acquitted. I feel strongly that our justice system must be examined as well as our training of police officers. I strongly believe an element of race enters into officers’ treatment of the victims and this must be eliminated.
At the same time I am incensed by the murder of Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu solely because they were police officers. These men were victims, killed in the line of duty, and outrage needs to be expressed at their murder.
Unfortunately I believe that the era of police brutality (and the subsequent retaliation) is not going away any time soon. It was a hot topic when I was in high school forensics (Speech and Debate) in 2000-2002 and unfortunately not much has changed. I respect the police officers who keep me safe each and every day, yet I am aware that many African Americans do not have the same positive relationship with police officers, being pulled over in racial profiling and at times being needlessly detained. I pray that we work every day to repair the tarnished relationship between police officers and those who they serve.