“This is not just a black issue, not just a Hispanic issue. This is an American issue that we all should care about.”
President Obama spoke those words concerning the two shootings of black males in Minnesota and Louisiana Tuesday and Wednesday. The President is right. We have a problem in this country and it concerns all of us. It needs to be fixed.
Deadly force by a police officer should be used as a last resort when an officer has exhausted all other means of enforcing the law and only then when his life is in imminent danger. This should not happen very often, especially in this day and age when the police have access to tasers to bring a suspect under control. I do not know how a black male feels when a police officer confronts him but I am pretty sure his thinking is not the as mine when an officer pulls me over. I also don't know what goes through a policeman's mind when approaching a car with a young black male inside as opposed to approaching a car with a young white male. It is much to easy to say that there shouldn't be any difference in the officer's thinking no matter the race of the suspect.
Numbers play a part in the thinking of both of these groups. The majority of attacks on police officers are committed by young black males. At the same time the majority of police shootings of suspects are suspects that are young black males. That is no excuse for either group to continue the trend, just what the numbers tell us and helps explain, possibly, why each group has the mindset they have when the situation occurs.
Of course, it is important to have all the facts in all the situations before judging who did what and who was right or wrong. Personally, after hearing all the evidence the public was given in the Micheal Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri I feel that the officer did fear for his life and deadly force was properly used. That doesn't mean the shootings that occurred earlier this week were justified or not. Facts need to be sorted out before we can declare if deadly force in the shootings were proper.
Unlike the aftermath in Ferguson, there were not any riots or burning of neighborhoods this week. No, the leaders of the groups who together organized protests in cities across the country. They were peaceful demonstrations that allowed the citizenry to voice their frustration and anger and despair at the situation in a positive and legal way. That is what was going on in Dallas last night.
The Dallas protest included people from all races who feel that the police need to be slower to react with deadly force then they do. The Dallas police were at the protest to make sure that all of the protesters were able to carry on their demonstration in safety. The police were escorting the protestors along their planned route when two to four people with semi-automatic weapons started shooting white police officers along the parade route.
Five officers dead as of this writing. Civilians shot and wounded along with upwards to a dozen officers shot and injured. The people of Dallas were voicing their concerns in the right way with the police protecting their right to do so when the shooting started.
We must take care not to paint all members of the police force with a broad brush because a few officers across the country react too quickly or recklessly with deadly force. We must also take care not to paint the protestors with a broad brush of being cop killers because a few in Dallas felt the proper action to take was to shoot police officers.
We must also take time to gather all evidence of police using deadly force upon their citizens and if acting improperly. they need to be held accountable for their actions. We must also take time to gather fact and evidence the people who murdered and shot the officers and citizens in Dallas, and when all is said and done, if warranted they need to be held accountable.
What I have hope for is that this terrible week that went from Louisiana to Minnesota ending in Dallas last night bring all parties, the protesting groups and the police closer together as they realize that violence is not the answer for anyone. I am afraid though that the result will be still more mistrust between the police as they put themselves on a higher self alert when performing their duties and make the people they serve even more suspicious of the police. I hope that isn't the case but I truly feel like it might be what comes out of all of this.
Bottom line is this. We as a country, as a people, need to stand as one, black,white and hispanic civilians next to the police forces, to bring this awful situation under control. Last night in Dallas should be a new beginning for the people and the police to work together for a safer and more just way of life.
I know that my "bottom line" sounds utopian. If you know me at all, you probably know that I see Utopia in much the same way as we see absolute zero. You can't get there, you can't achieve it. In my mind any philosophy or idea of an utopian society is flawed because of one thing. Human nature. No matter how hard we might try to come together to break this circle of violence, there will be people intent on keeping us from achieving it, and they will succeed. They will be of all races and of all occupations. There will be an officer here and there thinking in his mind that his intentions are good when using deadly force. There will be civilians who feel the only way to protest is to riot, loot and burn. Racism will never go completely away from any group of people. All races will have their racists out there, intent on doing harm to those they hate for one reason or another no matter how ignorant it may be. That shouldn't keep us from trying though.
This can't go on. It needs to end. It needs to end now.