Two policeman in New York have been killed by a guy who was basically crazy. The blame is being placed on the protests that have been occurring around the country surrounding the police killings of various young black men. Specifically, three young black men.
The major of New York called for a stop to the protests until the policemen have been buried. This, to me, is ridiculous. The major didn’t call for a stop to the “stop and frisk” policies until Eric Garner was buried, did he? Or a stop to the “stop and frisk” policies until an assessment of how this policy affects the communities in which it targets can be conducted.
Today on the Diane Rehm show, at least one of the guests blatantly implied that the protests are why the police officers were killed and that the protesters are to blame. Seriously?
First of all, I should state upfront that I am all for the police. I very much feel that the state should have police officers to enforce rules and regulations. The police have an extremely difficult job. They are under constant pressure from all different sides. At any moment, they may be called to give their life in service to another human being. People such as this should be honored.
At the same time, these police officers have significant power over people. They carry guns and they are pretty much legally allowed to use them whenever they want. I have heard a statistic that of the ~1000 police officer shootings in the last few years, only 2 have been prosecuted. To me this is astounding, and it says that police officers are free to use their gun whenever they feel in the last bit threatened. Police officers should be trained to use any other means at their disposal before resorting to using their gun. De-escalation should be the policy of the nation. Sorry – that was a tangent. Let’s set this aside.
I was discussing the protesters and the idea that they were responsible for the death of these two officers. I feel quite strongly that this idea is bullshit. Let me provide an example.
Let’s say that a man is beating his wife. The woman takes it for years and years. Finally, one day she goes to the police and files a complaint. The police go to arrest the guy and he kills one of the police officers. Who is at fault here? The man for killing the police officer or the wife for reporting the husband? People might think that this example is sort of bullshit, but it illustrates a couple of points (a) police officer’s jobs are dangerous and (b) victims should be encouraged to complain and not discouraged.
What is happening in the United State to black men is repression plain and simple. When black men are harassed by the police walking down the street, or pulled over in their cars disproportionally more than others, or treated like they are thugs, or punished more in schools which leads them to be expelled at a significantly higher rate than others, they are being repressed. This is not physical abuse (except when it actually is physical beating), but it is emotional abuse. So, when we as a society say, “stop!”, is that wrong? Is it incorrect for us, as a community, to stand together and say enough is enough?
Should we honor the police officers who were killed? Absolutely. Should we honor the young black men who were killed by other police officers? Absolutely.
Should we set aside the protests until the police officers have been buried? Why? What is the point of this? Honoring the police officers? I don’t have the slightest idea how this honors the police officers. I would hope that all police officers desire a fair society in which every person is treated humanely. I would hope that they would encourage others to rise and express their dissatisfaction at a government that treats black males as second class citizens, locking them up and throwing away the key with zero tolerance policies. As protectors of the population, I would hope that the police would be the most outraged by the policies of those in control.