By now all of us are familiar with the various events that have happened and are currently still happening in Ferguson, Missouri. The very fact that police officers are not to be trusted is a scary thought, especially for all the youth out there that was taught to ask police officers for help. I haven’t been alive for very long but already I’m seeing the harsh effects of police brutality on the news and from people experiencing it firsthand. The aggression, it seems, is not even justified, especially when it is peaceful protesters exercising their rights to protest and ask for change. Last time I checked, I’m pretty sure the American people have the First Amendment right, citizen or not.
Ferguson isn’t the only place that has suffered police brutality in a militarized fashion, even though it’s been in the news for awhile. I was reading an article awhile back that touched on the over militarization of the police here. Apparently there have been quite a few instances in which police have also trampled on the rights of ordinary citizens as well. Busting open doors and asking to search, no actually, demanding to search the homes of the innocent, some cases being that of a mistaken identity. The kinds of weapons police are using in some areas are ridiculously dangerous as well. A flash grenade once injured a toddler when police conducted a raid on the home of a convicted drug dealer, critically burning the little boy.
Given the fact that police also utilize tear gas on protesters, what makes us any different from other places like Israel, where the use the same American-made tear gas canisters our police officers do? How about Egypt, where they go ahead and shoot at the protesters? The complete disregard for human life is disgusting, no matter what the protesters or convicted criminals are charged with. There is no need for rubber bullets or “bean-bags” to subdue protesters. If there is a peaceful protest, then any reactions on the part of law enforcement should be met with the same peace.
Aside from our poorly thought out and excessive use of force on civilians, police officers have been known to pull over, arrest and detain people for no other reason than race it seems. The notorious “stop and frisk” routine is a part of everyday life for the residents of places such as Brooklyn and beyond. Sometimes these can be a good thing as reasonable searches have stopped crime, however when they are conducted in unreasonable or even in racially motivated instances, this becomes a serious issue concerning our civil rights. Another case of an unreasonable arrest is that of former lawyer Chaumtoli Huq, in which she was arrested for “blocking” the sidewalk.
What you as a reader should take away from all of this is that there is injustice going on right before our eyes. If we stand by and let it happen to others, we won’t have anyone to stand up for us when the oppressors come after us (reminiscent of Hangman by Maurice Ogden). We can’t wait for the situation to get worse, and I understand the fact that it may be difficult to protest something you don’t experience or see in your backyard, but there’s always the possibility it can happen. The longer we wait, the longer our youth and our children will be exposed to this as a normal part of society. Why should we tolerate it and let the injustice seep into every aspect of society? Why should we go back and revert to the inequality our older generations fought so long and hard for?
If anything should happen in the coming years, it shouldn’t be an impending police state. Instead we should be taking baby steps if not leaps and strides forward in the realm of equality.
(Image courtesy of The Sleuth Journal)