When I first wrote the following blog over a year ago, the portrayal that I tried to convey, would not have received much traction or consensus within the general American population. THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT HAS MADE A MAJOR DIFFERENCE IN MOVING PEOPLES’ HEARTS AND MINDS, TO WHERE THERE IS DIALOGUE ALONG THE LINES, THAT SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE. Now there are even reputable news outlets keeping tabs on police shootings, so that we finally have facts for reference. For example a 12/24/15 Washington Post article reports that there have been 965 police shootings for the year 2015. Other reports indicate numbers up to 1199 citizens have been shot; however all resources detail the criteria used to arrive at their numbers. This data was virtually non existent over a year ago.
HERE IS THE YEAR OLD BLOG:
There is something off key regarding the back and forth rhetoric between the police and the Black Lives Matter protesters regarding their right to gather together in solidarity while the cops, FOX NEWS and other tea part folks attempt to diminish their voices by painting this movement as being automatically, one which hates all police.
I recall how they were demonized when they continued to march while other New Yorkers were mourning over the loss of two decent, hard working Brooklyn police officers who were killed at the hands of a very sick individual in 2014. Originally, I was totally in agreement with the thinking that the protesters should take a few days off to show deference for those grieving over the senseless killing of two innocent policemen.
Then I started to have second thoughts about this issue of the protesters being pressured to give up their rights in order not to be defined as being anti-police. As an older White registered republican and a human being, my empathy goes out to both those involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and those paying their respects to two fallen policemen.
My thoughts began to evolve with the question, what do the protesters exercising their right to peacefully gather and march have to do with impeding those who wish to mourn the loss of those young police officers? It is one thing if the protesters decided on this tactic on their own but no one has the prerogative to expect them to give up their own rights to march and comfort each other, which is NOT equivalent to an act of disrespect to police officers.
It is as if officials are indicating that the protesters have something to apologize for instead of these same leaders recognizing that those in the Black Lives Matter movement simply want to bring public attention to an important cause, which is to end anymore preventable deaths of unarmed Black folks at the hands of the police. This activity is not designed to engender hatred against the police, nor to be disrespectful but to stand up for those who can’t within their own communities, those unarmed victims harmed by over zealous policing.
These protesters are asking to have their feelings respected too. Most protesters do not condone violent activities or boorish behaviors towards police officers for simply doing their jobs.
Dear police, do you not recall how police officials managed to leak ugly data to the media before the families had a chance to grieve and to have a burial service for a loved one who was fatally hurt by a police officer as in the Ferguson case? Do you not understand that these actions add tremendous pain to a family in mourning over the loss of their loved one at the hands of the police?
In 2014, I was watching TV when a former New York mayor flippantly reminded the viewers that these people who were inadvertently killed by police officers were committing a crime. Let’s make a quick review based on the facts. Tamir Rice, a 12 year old Black child was not committing a crime but just playing in a fantasy world by himself while holding a BB gun. The police who fatally shot him, originally tried to explain away their action by claiming that they had to shoot because there were others nearby who were in harm’s way. Fortunately, there was a video which proved that there was no one else in the park. The police at the scene did not follow their own prescribed standard protocol for this type of situation which caused a loss of life which was totally preventable. Then the police showed such respect for this child that they watched him die in agony for four minutes without rendering any aid.
Then what about the 22 year old Black man, John Crawford III from Beaver-creek, Ohio who made the mistake of picking up a pellet gun from a Wal-Mart shelf while talking on the cell phone. The police who responded to a 911 call took seconds to fatally shoot this young man without taking time to make a proper assessment of the circumstances. If the police felt that someone posed an imminent threat, there are other tools which can be used to constrain someone such as a Taser gun.
Let us not forget Levar Jones, another Black young man who was shot at multiple times by a police officer at a South Carolina gas station for the crime of supposedly not wearing a seat belt. The police official attempted to justify his actions to his superior by stating that he was in fear for his life. However, this time there was a complete video showing what really occurred. The young man was very respectful in following all of the officer’s orders. The only reason this young man is still alive today is because the officer was such a lousy shot.
Now it is time to take a look at the high level criminal activity of recent Black men by which police officers had no choice but to resort to fatally harming these individuals. Michael Brown shoplifted $15.00 worth of cigarillos at a local convenient store as per the St. Louis County Police report #14-43984; Eric Garner in New York had a history of selling non-taxed individual cigarettes; and Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill young man committed the major crime of falling asleep on a park bench. Before this young man was fatally shot 14 times by a police officer, he had been checked out by two other police officers who determined that the young man was simply sleeping and so they did nothing. Again, this police officer who did the shooting, did not abide by the standard protocol established to handle a young person with mental illness. Although this officer has been fired for not following the correct protocol, he will not face any criminal charges.
There is only the South Carolina police and judicial officials who are choosing to hold the police officer accountable for the shooting of Levar Jones. He has not only been fired but he is also facing serious felony charges.
There are those police officials who will claim that the above are rare, isolated incidents and it is not fair or right to paint all police officers in the same light. However, since the data regarding this issue is not formally collected in most communities, we do not know how isolated these incidents are. There is one newspaper in Utah which has been compiling this data over a period of years. As per a New Republic article, titled, “More People in Utah Are Killed by Police Than Die in Gang or Drug Violence” by Ben Mathis-Lilley on 11/24/2014, he reports the following: “A Salt Lake Tribune review of nearly 300 homicides, using media reports, state crime statistics, medical-examiner records and court records, shows that use of force by police is the second-most common circumstance under which Utahans kill each other, surpassed only by intimate partner violence. Between 2010 and October of this year, the Tribune found, 45 people were killed by law enforcement officers in Utah. Officer-involved killings ranked as the second-deadliest category of homicide, trailing deaths perpetrated by spouses or partners but ahead of gang killings, drug killings, and deaths resulting from child abuse. Only one of the police-involved killings—the shooting of 21-year-old Danielle Willard during an undercover drug operation in 2012—led to a prosecution, but a judge threw out charges against the officer involved.”
In short, the protesters simply want police reform to end the repeated preventable deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of police officers. They are announcing the message that the status quo way of handling these type of cases is no longer an acceptable standard and they intend to march until they are heard.
So, the protesters have every right to continue to peacefully march as it is their constitutional right and their message is just. This stance is not intended to be disrespectful of police officers, no matter how often those on the right attempt to use this as a favorite talking point.
As posted on the 12/24/14 Grio blog, LAPD Police Officers who sang the following limericks at a local Elks Lodge holiday celebration, were demonstrating how they really feel about the deaths of unarmed Black men at the hands of police and why there is a need for vigilant groups like “Black Lives Matter.”
In the TMZ video a lodge member and former federal official Gary Fishell can be heard leading others in the song that contained these lyrics:
“Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin’
With a badass policeman
And he’s bad, bad Michael Brown
Baddest thug in the whole damn town
Badder than old King Kong
Meaner than a junkyard dog.
Two men took to fightin’
And Michael punched in through the door
And Michael looked like some old Swiss cheese
His brain was splattered on the floor
And he’s dead, dead Michael Brown
Deadest man in the whole damn town
His whole life’s long gone
Deader than a road kill dog.”
The Grio also reports the following:
“Members of the Glendale Elks Lodge are upset though and plan to take actions against Fishell and the organizers of the event. “We don’t stand for any racist things like this,” a trustee of the lodge said.
UPDATE ON 1/4/2016: On 12/31/15, The Guardian is reporting 1,134 US police shootings for the year 2015.
Police fatally shoot nearly 1,000 people in 2015 | The …www.washingtonpost.com/…/a-year-of-reckoning-pol…The Washington Post Dec 26, 2015
Independent tallies reveal extent of killings by US police …http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/Independent-tallies-reveal-extent-killing…12/31/15 – Demonstrators protest the fatal police shootings of Laquan … The agency’s national tally is also incomplete because reporting is … On the Web: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/series/counted-us–police–killings ….. 31 Dec 2015 –