Police brutality may be linked to race

Britton Whitlock, Reporter

Michael Brown was shot in the back and killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9, 2014. Since that day, people involved with social media have become so much more aware of events with police brutality. There have been countless .0events of not only murders of mainly black teenagers by police officers, but harassments, beatings and unnecessary arrestings not only since Ferguson but throughout the history of America.

After almost every shooting there has been dispute over whether or not the police officer(s) had justified reasoning to shoot and kill. I say there is no justification for taking a life when there was not enough reasoning, especially if you took an oath to protect and serve all people, regardless of race or religious beliefs.

MIKE BROWN: There are many different opinions on what exactly happened in most cases of well-known police brutality. These are facts: Brown was unarmed. Wilson fired 12 rounds, the last one being the assumed fatal one. (Now it is only assumed because the doctor performing the autopsy did not document any of his findings because he claimed that his camera was dead, although the number one rule of autopsy is to document every move you make.) If there was a struggle, Wilson walked away with few minor injuries, Brown didn’t walk away. There are facts that Brown did rob the convenience store, and while that is a crime, I believe that it wasn’t an excuse to kill him, and the amount of shots he took show that the officer was trying to kill him. Based off of the fact that all he took were cigarillos, it seems like the decision made to take Brown’s life was based heavily off of his race.

EZELL FORD: Ezell Ford was a mentally ill black man shot and killed by LAPD on Aug. 11, 2014. Ford was walking home when he was approached by two officers working the area. LAPD officials have not said why they approached him, according to latimes.com. Officers said that Ford attacked one of them and tried to take his gun, at which time the other officer shot him twice and then a third time. I know that there is risk for the police officers if he was trying to take the gun and if he succeeded, but I also think that there were alternatives to killing him, if the story they tell was true. They could have shot to wound instead of to kill or simply pulled him off instead of killing him. The only problem is the lack of proof over what happened. The police have their story, but the only witness said that she saw no struggle between Ford and the officers, according to latimes.com.

TAMIR RICE: Tamir Rice was a 12 year-old boy in Cleveland, Ohio. He was playing at a park in his hometown with a BB gun on Nov. 22, 2014. Police in Cleveland received a call that there was a boy in the park with a gun that was “probably fake.” The police knew that there was a more-than-good chance that it was fake, but when they arrived, they say that Rice grabbed his gun, although did not point it at them, and that prompted a first-year policeman to shoot two fatal shots at him from close range, according to thedailybeast.com. He was not dead immediately, he died the next day. Had officers given him proper care, the autopsy shows that he might have been able to live, according to wkyc.com. Again, he was only 12 years old.

ERIC GARNER: Before the shooting of Michael Brown, Eric Garner was accused by NYPD of selling untaxed cigarettes, although this was never proven. On July 12, 2014, a police officer killed Garner by putting him in a chokehold, which is illegal for officers to use, according to huffingtonpost.com. In his last moments, Garner cried “I can’t breathe” multiple times.

There are so many more examples that I could use, but these are some of the better-known cases, and if I used all of the ones that I know of this editorial might not end until police brutality does. The point I want to make is that regardless of whether or not a person committed a crime, there is almost never a good reason to take that person’s life. If you made an oath to protect and serve, you swore to protect and serve everybody, not just people of your own race.

After the Garner situation, athletes and people everywhere donned t-shirts with the phrase “I Can’t Breathe” on them in support of Garner and his family. Weeks later, police departments everywhere, but mainly in New York, had shirts made with the slogan “I Can Breathe” and they were seen in majority at the “Thank you, NYPD” festival on Dec. 19, 2014 that was greatly outnumbered by counter-protesters. According to the South Bend Uniform Company’s facebook, their police department also made shirts saying “Breathe Easy Don’t Break the Law.” (By the way, that is South Bend, IN., which is about three hours away from SHS.) Any form of this slogan is disgraceful, and makes a mockery of Garners last words. Not to mention that South Bend’s shirt pretty much is a synonym for “Don’t break the law or we’ll kill you.”

I want to clarify that I personally am not against all police officers. I know that there are good people and bad people, and that there are people killed by cops for valid reasons. What I am against is racial profiling by people of power. I feel that if you take an oath to serve and protect and accept a badge and a gun, you have to do what is best for the people you are protecting. I feel that too many police officers use the power that they have for their own social agenda and frankly racist beliefs. I know that there are good police officers that abide by their oath, and I don’t let a handful of bad cops diminish my view of all cops.

I have never personally experienced racist police brutality, I have that privilege, known as white privilege. I will never have to worry about getting shot on the street because of my skin, I won’t have to worry about not fitting the description of what is a “good look” because of my skin, I will never have to deal with people treating me differently because of my skin color and I know that if I don’t get a job, it was because I was unqualified, not because of my skin color.

That said, I also don’t have the right to say that I am 100% not racist. If someone of color came up to me and said that I was racist, I do not have the right to tell them that they are wrong. I don’t know what it is like to be discriminated against, so if someone told me I was racist, I would listen to them, apologize, and make sure that I fix whatever it was that I did or said.

I think that a lot of white people don’t take this into consideration. If they’re called a racist, they say that they have black friends, or a Mexican coworker, or an Indian second cousin and ignore the fact that, although they defended someone, their own image is more important to them. So, if you are white and care about the police brutality events, then you need to keep in mind that you are so much more privileged than the people you are trying to defend.