In The last fifty days have been devoted to raising awareness to police misconduct and brutality. Unfortunately, such incidents rarely result in any sort of conviction and when they do, the conviction typically does not fit the crime. It is unfortunate that the possession of a badge pretty much gets an officer a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.
In December, two NYPD officers were savagely murdered by an overzealous individual claiming his actions are in the name of Eric Garner and other victims of police misconduct. When this incident took place, the public outcry against radical police actions tapered into a dull roar from a collective few and talking heads around the country used this incident to slander protesters and defend police actions. It didn’t help that when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio went to see the bodies of the deceased officers, the NYPD turned their backs on him and their union president used the deaths of his officers as a means to slander the mayor, President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and others.
What does it say about us, as a people, that one random act of violence against two police officers — in a city like New York where cops are killed often (by comparison) in the first place — can undo public awareness and outcry over incidents of police brutality? How does the murder of two police officers shut us down, push us back in the corner, and ultimately derail any kind of social progress we could make on the subject?
We lost our strength when it mattered the most. We silenced ourselves when we should have defended ourselves. Perhaps the cause was never that strong to begin with?
Well, I’m still not silent and I still want police officers held accountable for their crimes. To me, the police are American citizens too and should be treated as such. Police officers should be tried for murder when they storm a Wal-Mart and kill a man holding an air-soft rifle. Police officers should be tried for murder when they execute a man at a transit station. Police officers should be tried for murder when they gun down unarmed black men, or steal the lives of the mentally ill, and rush to judgement when determining whether they’re going to use deadly force.
This is one of my causes. It should be one of yours, as well. We’ll only make a difference if we all stand together and continue calling out police officers when they cross the line. The people of this country are going to be what fixes the problem and we need to remain united, especially when we are attacked because of the actions of one man who did not handle his despair constructively. We cannot break ranks when those ranks are needed the most.
It’s officially 2015 and together, we can make changes this year. Let 2015 be known as the year of police reform, because the longer this goes on, the more damage will be done and quieter our cause becomes.