Monday, May 18, 2015

Why I'm angry...

I started writing this post last year. I put it away for a while because I was seeing a lot of other people --people who I respect and whose opinions I value, people with a much wider audience than I have--writing about the same topic in a very eloquent and forceful manner. I figured I would just be repeating words that everyone had already heard and understood. I assumed that enough was being said about the topic. I thought I didn't need to add my voice to the choir of people calling for justice because surely what was already out there would be sufficient.

And yet, here we are, ten months after Eric Garner's death was videotaped and splashed all over the internet and cops are still killing unarmed people with impunity. Of course, Garner's death wasn't the first of its kind nor was it the last. (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown are other widely recognized examples.) It's happening frequently enough that I get at least one petition from pertaining to police brutality in my inbox per week. Some of them relate to older cases, some of them are new... none of them have found justice.

We can pretend that it's not about race if you want to. I think that's willfully blind, but hey, if you'd like to pretend it's not about race I'll indulge you... as a thought exercise.

The truth is that whether or not it's about race, the result is the same. The truth is that innocent people are being killed by a group of people who are sworn to protect and defend. The truth is that the victims' race and background shouldn't make a difference.

What matters is that people who are unarmed are being killed by police officers.

That should frighten and anger you no matter what who you are.


Because people are people.

It should disgust you that anyone is being shot, strangled, or beaten to death by police officers despite being unarmed and not acting aggressively. If, for some reason, that doesn't disgust you then I suggest that you check your moral compass; it's leading you astray.

While it's horrific that these incidents are happening at all, matters are made infinitely worse by the fact that the police officers responsible for these incidents aren't being indicted, or worse yet, aren't even being investigated or put on trial.

Unfortunately, now is when some people will insist, "But those men were adults with criminal records," or "But those were large men whose mere presence was intimidating."

Well my first reply to that is, who gives a crap? Having a criminal record does not mean you deserve to be shot on sight when you aren't armed or attacking anyone, nor does being large and 'intimidating.'

Furthermore, if that's your excuse, then what about Tamir Rice? Or how about Sheneque Proctor? How intimidating was the unarmed 12 year old boy who was shot or the 18 year old young woman who was found dead in her cell after being arrested and complaining of asthma?

Why is nothing being done about their deaths?

Sheneque was arrested at a house party for 'disturbing the peace.' She reportedly complained of having asthma trouble and then was found dead in her cell the next morning.

Raise your hand if you've ever been at a party that got broken up by the cops.

*Raises hand* I have. Just a noise complaint, but still, it's happened. What if I had been unlucky enough that a cop decided to take me in on a misdemeanor? I have asthma. What if I'd had an asthma attack? Would the cops have believed me and gotten me an inhaler? Would I have gone to bed and never woken up? Would I have deserved death simply for being a party that was too loud?

And you say, "Well that was an accident, no one killed her."

And I say, "Perhaps, but no one saved her either. And, to make matters worse, no one seems to be looking into her death."

You can pretend this isn't about race, but these incidents aren't being distributed equally amongst all demographics. You can pretend that this isn't about race, but what are the chances that there wouldn't have already been investigations completed for Tamir and Sheneque if they had been white?

It is not ok that any group of US citizens feels unsafe in the hands of our justice system. It is not ok that any group of citizens feels targeted by our justice system. It is not ok that we sit idly by and allow our justice system to abuse any group of US citizens, or residents, or visitors for that matter.

People are people.

People's lives matter.

Justice matters.

We can no longer sit back and let our fellow humans come to harm.

It's time to speak up.

I don't know what the answer is. I know that not all cops are out to kill people who don't deserve it. I know that the root of the problem is much deeper than any of these incidents. I know that our whole justice system is faulty and that that's just the beginning. This problem is huge and tangled, and messy, and complicated, and it is going to take a very long time to fix.

But the first step is simple.

People are people. There is no "they." There is only "we."

We may be different, but we are also the same.

We deserve respect. We deserve a chance to live. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve to feel like we matter.

We do matter.

All of us.

I'm angry, and I don't know what to say to make things better. But I felt the need to say something, and I think the more of us who speak up, the better. After months of indecision, I've decided that there can't be too many voices saying no to injustice.

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