By Areeg Naeem ‘15
After the jarring decision in the Ferguson and Eric Garner grand jury hearings in which neither police officer was indicted, there has been extreme outrage throughout the country and many call to look at the distrust of the law enforcement within the black community.
Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by Darren White, a white officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. Eric Garner, another black man, was choked to death by a white police officer, Daniel Panteleo while he continued to say “I can’t breathe,” -three words that have resonated with millions. We’re starting to see a trend right here, the killings of numerous black people. It’s a trend that needs to be stopped.
According to a report conducted by Propublica, a non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism, young black men have a 21 times greater risk of being shot dead by a police officer than young white males.Because of this, one question continues to be raised. Just how many more in the black community will die at the hands of police officers every day in order for action to be taken?
Some argue that these black men should have listened to the voice of authority and should not have resisted arrest. Although, I do agree that we should listen to the law, this “voice of authority” has not earned the trust of many, especially the minority community. The frequent targeting of black individuals from law enforcement has made many critical of how the police perceive race. This distrust has continued to grow and as a result, black lives have been lost.
This is not a condemnation of all police officers. Most perform their duties in a diligent and honorable manner, but there are those who choose to tarnish their badge of honor. We all realize that this is an extremely dangerous job and at times, police officers do need to be more forceful with criminals. But the killing of an individual without justification is wrong. It is those police officers that need to be prosecuted and follow the law just like any other.
“I couldn’t help but immediately think what it would mean to me to lose Dante,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said, referring to his son at a news conference after the grand jury decision for the Eric Garner case according to http://www.abcnews.go.com. “We’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him.”
According to http://abcnews.go.com/US/nypd-officer- indicted, the mayor also sympathizes with the country on both unjust cases. He acknowledged and agreed with protesters’ chant, “black lives matter, and they’ve said it because it had to be said. It’s a phrase that should never have to be said — it should be self-evident.”
This phrase certainly should be self-evident. And to make that happen, we need to better train police officers in non lethal but effective take-down techniques. Procedures such as the chokehold should be made illegal as it has caused numerous deaths. We should also appoint independent district attorneys (DA) to deal with cases including police officers involved in deaths. Too often, the DA has close ties to the police because they work so many cases together. Perhaps, this does not allow for objectivity. An independent DA could remove any appearances of impropriety.
But perhaps, most importantly we need to bridge the gap between the distrust of the law enforcement with the minority communities. There should be more community policing and outreach efforts. This may help promote equality not only in how police officers handle crimes with the minority, but also within its enforcement.
These steps need to be taken. Enough lives have been lost and the whole country has shared the immense grief over the Ferguson and Eric Garner decisions. Cops need to realize that they do not have “qualified immunity.” The Department of Justice needs to be urged to engage in impartial federal charges against all cops involved in violent crimes. We need to take ac- tion against police brutality and racial profiling. Police officers across the country must realize that black lives do matter.