Friday, July 9, 2010

The Injustice Continues

Whether Black, White, purple, blue, or green, everyone across the country, and maybe the world, is aware of the police brutality against minorities.  Historically, this brutality was legal at one point, and actually enforced.  Nowadays, police brutality is covered by ambiguous legal definitions and the infamous "police brotherhood".  Being a Black woman, I have experienced minor racism from police, and I have many friends and associates who have been victimized.  I take an interest in this topic because it is something that is always brought up, but never fully solved.  The question is: will it ever be solved?

I am aware that there are many Black men who have died in vain at the hands of the police, and sadly, I do not have the capacity to address every situation.  I will focus on three men who have been killed by the police, and who were unarmed, or were not a direct threat to the police.  I have shed tears for all affected men, and I'm sure I'm not the only person who was affected by these senseless acts.

If you are unfamiliar with the three men who are pictured, here are details of their cases:

Oscar Grant III (February 27, 1986 – January 1, 2009): 

Officer Johannes Mehserle was found guilty of INVOLUNTARY MANSLAUGHTER for the killing of unarmed Oscar Grant.  This conviction carries a punishment ranging from probation to 14 years in prison.  There were also no Black jurors serving on the case.

Amadou "Ahmed" Diallo (September 2, 1975 – February 4, 1999): An UNARMED African man who lived in NYC.  In a case of mistaken identity, police proceeded to interrogate him. Diallo did not speak much English, and made an attempt to reach for his identification.  Police officers shot 41 times, and 19 bullets hit him.  ALL OFFICERS WERE LATER ACQUITTED OF ALL CHARGES. (Source)

Sean Bell (May 18, 1983 – November 25, 2006): Bell was celebrating his bachelor party at a gentleman's club in New York.  Upon leaving the club, an altercation between him and a dancer was reported to police.  As the police arrived to club, Bell and his friends were getting into a Nissan Altima.  The events leading up to the shooting are still debated, but what is known is that police fired 50 shots, and Sean Bell was killed in the act.  He was also UNARMED and ALL OFFICERS WERE ACQUITTED OF ALL CHARGES. (Source)

Now that you have some background on these three cases, how do you feel?  In the Black community, we need to consider these men our brothers.  How much is their life worth?

I am aware that Grant and Bell had prior criminal records, and I realize that according to the law, they were already branded as criminals.  However, the police officers who killed them probably did not know they had been criminals when they released shots.  To me, even those facts need to be brought up for discussion.  Were the police officers' acts justified because these men were the "outlaws"?  Does everyone who commits a crime deserved to die from excessive police force?  If that were true, I'm sure many White criminals would suffer from police brutality as well.

After reading discussion boards on Essence and Bossip, I began to think.  Many people discussed killing amongst Black people.  Black on Black crime is definitely a problem in our community, and it needs to be solved now.  I do believe in the government's divide and conquer strategy, and it has been proven to be successful.  As Nas pointed out, they gave us guns and crack.  Now they are reaping the benefits.  Police officers see Black men killing each other and they see how much life is worth in our community.  I'm not saying Black men are the problem.  I am suggesting that we need to strengthen our community from the inside out.  We need to teach our children the value of life, while fighting the injustices against our community.

I am not against police using force to control a situation, but I do believe that police bear the responsibility of diffusing a situation without injury to anyone.  This is in no way a perfect world, and obviously police officers do not feel that it is their obligation to SERVE our community.  If they are constantly murdering our Black men, how are they here to provide safety for us?

On July 8, 2010, Meserle's conviction was announced, and as to be expected, Bay Area residents began to demonstrate in the streets of Oakland.  I support protests, even if they aren't exactly "peaceful".  Peaceful protests haven't gotten us very far lately, and I support people going to higher measures to make their opinions known.  However, there was a huge drawback.  Residents looted Foot Lockers and other stores, taking shoes, jerseys, and other items.  That is what I do not support.  How is a pair of Nike Jordans going to help the police see that we are no longer going to take anymore bullsh*t?  That is crossing the line from a Black Panther-esque movement to straight ignorance.  If we are going to stand together as one and fight the unjust police system, ignorance cannot be tolerated.

This is a very emotional issue for many people, as it is for me.  Although no prison sentence will ever bring these men back, they are at least owed a better justice decision.  Acquittal tells the world that there was no wrongdoing in the police officers' actions, and that the killings were justified.  A conviction of involuntary manslaughter tells us that the police officer may have been wrong, but he needed to be forceful.  Are these the answers we want from the justice system?  Of course not.  Should we be entitled to the same government treatment as others?  Yes, that is what our ancestors were killed for.

How much is a Black man's life worth?



What are your thoughts?


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