The past week is one that tries all our souls. The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the Dallas police and traffic officers are awful. But remember it is very rare to ambush policemen. However 3-4 people are fatally shot by the police in this nation each day–the Washington Post has been keeping an account. Sterling and Castile would be alive today if the officers had refrained from shooting first and asking later and please, none of needs the “they should have done this that or the other” in order to stay alive. Citizens treated with respect rarely die in police custody. Both men were disrespected, their movements misinterpreted and their 2nd amendment rights to carry guns ignored.
I am not pro-or anti-police–that is an absurd phrase. I do think that policing by those who actually understand law, know the communities that are being policed and work with the people in them makes sense. My brother exemplifies that kind of work and he has taught that to his son. I know others whose families have police who are absolutely appalled at the lack of professionalism on the part of their fellows in blue. The other kind that seems to find many people further impoverished, overly imprisoned and dead ain’t working. #blacklivesmatter and this idea/hashtag/movement is not going away because of a terrible ambush.
The list of Black, Brown, Native American, Asians, and yes White folks who have been un armed; peaceful; playing in the park; talking to their wives; their girlfriends; the best friends; on the way to a job interview; leaving work late; minding their own business; driving down a road in early evening; late day; the morning; midnight, etc. seems to bring out the worst fantasies of a subset of officers who are frightened and dangerous–they are not bad apples, there are too many of them. Those officers are part of the norm and the norm needs to change. We can lift up the lives of those who were shot in the line of duty, their sacrifice was great. We can also demand justice for the victims of police violence and the kind of police work that continues to dignify that sacrifice. Anything less is cablenewstv talkingheads world–one none of us needs to live in.
Art from Kongo, 17th c.