Michael Brown an 18 year old black teenager was fatally shot Saturday August 9th, 2014 by an officer of the St. Louis County Police Department after an unexplained altercation between the two and another individual who was a friend of Brown. Family and friends of young Michael Brown expressed that he was a “good kid.” Brown’s grandmother, Desiree Harris shared that her “grandson has never got into a fight.” What is most disheartening is that Michael Brown a graduate of Normandy High School was set to start his first day at Vatterott College on Monday, August 11th, 2014. Unfortunately, a supposed servant of the public whose duty is to serve and protect cut his life drastically short. The witness that was with Mike Brown at the time of his death said that Brown “had his hands up” surrendering, when the officer still delivered the fatal shots. Another witness in a nearby apartment, Ms. Crenshaw gave a similar account, stating “He was being compliant…he turned this way (turning toward the police) with his hands up then he was shot in the face and in the chest.”
St. Louis County Police Dept. Police Chief Jon Belmar said at a news conference that one of the men pushed the officer back into the squad car and then a struggle began. At least one shot was fired from the officer’s gun inside the police car. The struggle then proceeded in the streets, where one of the two people was shot multiple times. Chief Belmar also shared that the exact number of shots is unknown, but “it was more than just a couple.”
At this same news conference chanting of protesters could be heard, “We want answers…” “No Justice, No Peace.” Since the untimely death and possible murder of Michael Brown there hasn’t been much peace in Ferguson, Missouri. The frustration and pain of another young black man dying senselessly by the hands of an authority figure we entrust to serve with integrity only further draws the divide between us and them. The last few days have been a mixture of citizens enacting there constitutional right to assemble and protest with small flares of rioting and looting by some who want to remedy an irrational situation with irrational behavior.
It has been exactly one year to the date that the Federal District Court ruled New York Police Department’s “Stop and Frisk” policy was discriminatory and unconstitutional upon findings 85% of people stopped were black or Hispanic. Now it appears on the surface that the Michael Brown incident is also a possible case of racial profiling, and gross abuse of power. I would not be surprised if it is found that this cop misused his power of discretion by making a minor situation into a matter of excessive and ultimately deadly force.
Sadly, this is not a new epidemic. The civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri mirrors the 2001 riots in my hometown of Cincinnati, where another unarmed 19 years old, Timothy Thomas died at the hands of anxious cop, Officer Stephen Roach on April 7th, 2001. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-04-03-cincinnati-riots-anniversary_N.htm Just within the last 60 days there have been other accounts of cops using excessive and deadly force against black people. Marlene Pinnock a 51 year old black woman who is a great grandmother was beaten repeatedly in the face by a California Highway patrol officer on the 10 -Freeway in California http://fox2now.com/2014/07/07/family-of-woman-beaten-by-california-patrol-officer-plans-to-sue/comment-page-1/ Very recently, Eric Garner 43 years old and father of six had raised both hands before he was placed in deadly chokehold by a New York Police officer, uttering in his final moments “I can’t breathe!” “I can’t breathe!” http://abcnews.go.com/US/video/eric-garner-nypd-choke-hold-death-medical-examiner-24813490
What can we do now? What can we do to prevent another unarmed brother or sister from being wrongly abused and even killed? How can we keep the ones’ we have already lost from dying in vain? We have to continue to March and protest on the streets, through social media, directly to media and to elected officials. Some have said the days of marching are dead but if it wasn’t for the protest spurred by outrage and even the rioting there would be no awareness nationwide. I don’t advocate violence but in the midst of tragedy from a community that probably is tired of being harassed and feel they have no recourse, I understand the frustration. However, the negative action of a riot only deflects from the real issue at hand which is the young man who was wrongfully gunned down. Therefore, all leadership civil rights organizations, churches, Activist young and old must use this opportunity to organize and guide people toward strategic measures that will bring forth effective change. First, we have to know what we want. Secondly, we have to be united. Thirdly, we have to have the stamina to fight for what we want to accomplish.
So what do we want? We want officers to have limited discretion which means eliminating unreasonable discretion that has allowed cops to irrationally make assumptions in order to use deadly force. An example of reasonable discretion to use deadly force: if he or she is being met with deadly force and or a weapon is visibly apparent; Unreasonable is using deadly force without confirmation of a weapon, and also when a citizen is clearly submitting. This has to become to overall standard through law.
Just as there is good and bad people, there is good and bad cops. I believe there is a need for more oversight. This can be accomplish through a federal mandate that all police cruisers be in compliance with an operating video cam that is controlled by a third party contractor and not the officer. I also believe technology should be developed for micro cameras to be installed on police uniforms and hat with a constant surveillance feed going to a third party contracted surveillance website. This is something I have been interested in developing on my own ever since the Trayvon Martin tragedy except I also wanted to make the portable mini cameras available to the general public to install in their cars and person. This is the evidence people of color who are more frequently profiled by police need to prove harassing and sometimes deadly behavior. It also will be a preventative measure for the officer who believed he or she is above the law essentially decreasing racial profiling.
The FBI should automatically handle all cases of unarmed shootings that result in a death by a cop. The police should never be able to police themselves. Independent investigations from the highest level should be the nation’s standard.
Most importantly, if the evidence supports a wrongful death by assault or a degree of murder then they should be punished like any other citizen. Instead of the badge sparing them from harsh penalties they should be more harshly punished for the dishonor they brought to the badge. When these perpetrating cops who use excessive and deadly force are released without any repercussions for their actions it sets a negative precedent that validates the unreasonable loss of life, adding insult to injury. If this country wants PEACE then it better bring forth JUSTICE.
What are your thoughts? Do you have a solution? I want to hear from you.