No penalty for police killings, even with instant replay

 

Marching from Minneapolis City Hall - Black Lives Matter
Protesters gather near Minneapolis City Hall.    Photo credit: Tony Webster | tony@tonywebster.com

For a while now, I’ve wanted to stop writing about Colin Kaepernick. I just can’t. My Red Sox are in the middle of a pennant race; my Patriots are 2-0 without Tom Brady, and all I can talk about is a backup QB on the other side of the country.

And that’s because the conversation that he started is bigger than sports. As a black man in America, it directly affects my well-being.

At this moment, there is no effective plan to deal with cops who kill unarmed black people.

Cell-phone cameras have given us the real-life equivalent of instant replay. We can see exactly what happened minutes after the event takes place. And yet, our justice system keeps blowing the calls, letting killer cops off the hook without penalty.

Cell-phone cameras have given us the real-life equivalent of instant replay.

Time after time, American police have demonstrated that they can stop black people for whatever reason they come up with, kill them, leave the body in the street, and still be able to go home to their families and walk the streets as a free citizen.

It happened to Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, and Danroy Henry, as well as countless others. It appears as if Terrence Crutcher will soon be added to this list.

It’s absolutely frightening. It seems like every other week there’s a new video of a black person being killed by the police. And each time I watch, I try to visualize myself in the situation.

“Ok, the cops just pulled me over. They say it’s for a busted tail-light. They’re asking me for my license and registration. I can’t just reach for it, because the cop might freak out and shoot me like Philando Castile. Not doing anything isn’t an option, because I’ll be “non-compliant” with the cops’ orders. Ok now they’re dragging me out of the car. There’s a bunch of them. Fighting back is out of the question. Even if they don’t kill me, I’ll get jail time. I can’t run, or they’ll shoot me in the back like Walter Scott.”

What am I supposed to do in that situation? Granted, most police stops don’t go down like that. But, what if the odds were against me; and I was stopped by one of the “bad apples” people are talking about? How am I supposed to make it home safely?

I feel this way, and I have no criminal record. I’m not old and cynical either. I’m a college student. There is overwhelming evidence that if you look like me and encounter the wrong cop, it’s a no-win situation.

We have to figure this out. This is one of the greatest issues of our time. Punishments need to fit the crime for everybody, including cops.

Punishments need to fit the crime for everybody, including cops.

Receiving paid leave is not an adequate punishment for killing a human being. Being stripped of your badge is not an adequate punishment for killing a human being.  Having no punishment at all is plainly unacceptable.

So what are we going to do about it? Kaepernick got the conversation rolling with the anthem protests. It’s a shame that it even had to come down to that. He had to do something he knew would piss millions of people off just to get the conversation started.

And people are still mad for the wrong reasons. There is so much more of a focus on how “wrong” the method of the protests are than there is on the issues being protested. How can you be more angry at a football player taking a knee than you are at someone who kills an innocent person?

I’m interested in seeing how long guys such as Kaepernick and Arian Foster will keep kneeling. If things continue the way they are going, they might not ever stand for a national anthem again. Heck, we’ll be lucky if their grandkids do. That’s how far we are from being where we’re supposed to be.

I believe that we can get there. One day America will become the place it claims to be: the greatest country on earth. The land of the free. A place that has insured domestic tranquility.

It all starts with acknowledging that we aren’t there yet and striving to make the changes that will take us there. We cannot keep living in denial.

It all starts with acknowledging that we aren’t there yet and striving to make the changes that will take us there. That’s what Kaepernick wants. That’s what I want. We cannot keep living in denial.

The Declaration of Independence says that “all men are created equal” and have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It also says, “To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it…”

Allowing cops to kill unarmed citizens on camera with no repercussions is fundamentally destructive to the rights of black Americans. As hip-hop entertainer Common’s dad said at the end of the song Forever Begins, we need to work with the four A’s: Acknowledgement, Apology, Amendment and Atonement.

“Confusion. We need a solution. Blend and stir, stir and blend the pot of humanity. Sip the ingredients of Acknowledgement, Apology, Amendment, and Atonement,” said Lonnie Lynn Sr., who also played a short stint in the NBA in late ’60s.

America needs to turn it’s D and F (denial and frustration) into the four A’s. It’s crucial, not just for our progression, but for our survival. We need to acknowledge that black folks are being killed with impunity at the hands of law enforcement. We need to recognize that apology is a difficult, yet vital step to healing. And we need to amend our laws to atone for these crimes that are happening on our nation’s soil to American citizens.

Leave a Comment