Preface: Some of you may feel that this article seem a bit out of place given what I usually write about. But I think this is an issue that affects everybody at one point of another. It goes beyond just being African American or Caucasian, it’s about being human. And I care for our human race, which is why I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this subject. Hopefully, you’ll find it interesting and thought stimulating.
There has been a lot of attention given to specific violence acts committed by the police and those that retaliate within the last 2 weeks. Unfortunately, America is no stranger to racism and hate crimes, and many consider the recent incidents to fit into that exact category.
It appears that people are simply reacting to the situation, allowing their anger, rage and personal sense of justice to blind their love and consideration for their fellow man.
It’s starting to become where everyone starts to look out only for themselves and no one else. It’s not a situation that any of us would like to be in, but it’s one that’s starting to take root.
Am organization called Black Lives Matter was formed after the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old teenager whose killer was acquitted on the charge of murder.
Since then, Black Lives Matter (BLM) has organized protests, talks, and other events to bring awareness to the inequality shown for the black community in general. For Trayvon Martin, he was portrayed as a hoodlum with ill intentions and a bad rep. Although some of the facts may be true regarding Martin’s background, they were used to justify his killing, which has little, if any bearing at all on the act of killing itself.
Since then, there have been many more incidents where members of the black community were killed and the killers were either not held responsible, or the repercussions did not fit the crime. Many of these were committed by police officers. This has sparked protests against the police force in general and terrible acts of “revenge” against law enforcement ensued.
Due to the most recent events, it seems that this situation has come to a head.
Let’s see what the recent incidents were and the public’s response.
On July 5, 2016, a 37 year old man was outside in the parking lot in front of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This man’s name is Alton Sterling. The police was called on him by an anonymous caller who claim Sterling had a gun and was threatening him. Police arrived and video footage showed that Sterling was first tasered by the officers, then tackled to the ground.
While trying to gain control of the Sterling, who is clearly shown lying on the ground, one of the officers yelled out that Sterling was going for his gun. Moments later, with both officers on top of Sterling, multiple gunshots were heard. Sterling was seen laying on the ground with a gunshot wound to the chest.
Alton Sterling suffered multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and back and his death was originally ruled a homicide by the coroner.
Less than 24 hours later, more than 100 protestors gathered on the streets, set of fireworks and blocked street intersections to express their outrage at this incident.
On July 6, 2016, a day after the tragic death of Alton Sterling, a 32 year old man named Philando Castile and his girlfriend were driving in Falcon Heights, Minnesota with their 4 year old daughter in the backseat.
They were stopped for a broken taillight and Castile was asked for his registration and license. He told the officer that he has a license to carry a firearm and that he has a firearm in the car. According to Castile’s girlfriend, the office told Castile to not move. Castile was in the process of getting his license and registration and went to put his hands back up when told by the officer to not move. That was when the officer fired multiple shots into the side of Castile.
No first aid was given to Castile until shortly before the paramedics arrived. Castile’s girlfriend recorded the aftermath of the shooting on video, capturing the officer still pointing his gun at the dying Castile. She was later handcuffed but then released.
Just like the case of Alton Sterling, Castile’s death was ruled a homicide by the coroner.
More than 200 people gathered at the scene in about 3 hours after the incident to protest what has happened.
In response to the 2 incidents mentioned above, a protest rally was held on July 7, 2016 in Dallas, Texas. This event was organized by Black Lives Matter to protest against the police killings of those 2 men in the 2 preceding days. It was a peaceful protest and police officers were present to provide a safe environment for the protestors.
But the peace did not last long on this day.
Micah Xavier Johnson, a an Army Reserve Afghan War Veteran, opened fire on the crowd of protestors at the end of the event, hitting 12 officers and 2 civilians, killing 5 of the officers.
Further investigation found that Johnson had been planning this attack before the incidents from the previous 2 days. But the protest and the recent deaths caused by police officers most likely gave Johnson the push and opportunity to commit this horrendous crime.
The was the deadliest day for law enforcement in the U.S. since the 9/11 attacks.
There has been a lot of different takes on the recent incidents and viewpoints are flying in every direction. Millions of people have taken to social media to express their rage. Celebrities, politicians, and everyone in between had their view on what the root cause of the problem is and how to solve it.
Attention has been turned to police brutality and the abuse of authority by a few officers. Racial profiling has been put to the forefront by Black Lives Matter, and for good reasons. The backgrounds of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were being used by some in attempts to soften or even justify their killings.
It seems that focus is being shifted in every different direction.
In light of these recent incidents and all those other ones in the past few years, many protests and rallies had been held to show dissatisfaction with the current legal system and outcry over the many tragic deaths by those that we trust to serve and protect us.
That begs the questions however, are these protests doing us any good?
Are Protests Any Good?
The freedom of expression and assembly are plainly stated in the United States Constitution. There aren’t a whole lot better ways to get your message out to the world than to gather together as a people and be out there physically to show what your stand for.
It’s easy to see why protest is a good idea.
But protests also have a stigma attached to it. Protests have came a long way since the 1992 LA riots when the police officers who had severely beaten Rodney King were acquitted on trial. But just last year, the Baltimore protests for the death of Freddie Gray turned violent on several occasions.
I’m not saying that protests should not be held. I think it’s the right of every American citizen to express what they believe in and if going in masses in the streets is their choice, so be it as long as NO crimes are being committed.
I think the protesters in Louisiana, Minnesota, and Texas were all peaceful in their methods. Current investigation still shows that the gunman in Texas was acting alone.
In these cases, protesting can be even more difficult to manage peacefully because the subject of the protest is police brutality on members of the black community. And these protests are usually watched over by police officers to not only ensure the safety of everyone involved, but to also alert reinforcements if the protest gets out of hand.
We had mentioned that everyone has there own viewpoints on these incidents, and there’s no shortage of opinions regarding the way these incidents should be handled. But we all need to keep one fundamental truth in mind.
All ideas are ultimately opinions that were formed by someone.
With matter like these that affects such a large number of people, there’s no quick fix. There’s no magic pill or a secret formula that can miraculous fix it all.
“Eliminate the police force!”, “Take away the guns!”, “No, lax the gun laws so we can protect ourselves!”. All these are extreme opinions being hurled by politicians and their die-hard followers. I am not one to say if they are right or wrong, because of one simple fact.
I myself do not have the answer.
I’m sure many of us have heard of the reasoning from different sides on how tighter gun control will solve this issue, or limiting the power of law enforcement officers will solve that problem. But in reality, not everyone will all agree on a single proposed solution to a problem, nevermind all those other ones that we’re all constantly trying to solve.
Learn To Disagree
Because there are so many opinions about these things, we must all learn to live with them. This is as simple as agreeing to disagree on any topic.
We should keep in mind that the aim is not to please everyone. But if everyone’s aim is to stop the violence, then the results bought about from the right solution should please everyone.
Whatever their reason is for their belief, we shouldn’t get caught up that it’s not in agreement with ours. And this is almost all I see whenever I open up my Facebook page or Twitter feed.
People are arguing back and forth on why certain things don’t work, or this needs to be implemented, or that needs to be taken away. I caught myself getting caught up in a conversation the other day about the very topic of Black Lives Matter.
It wasn’t hostile in any way but I simply expressed my opinion on the matter and so did the others in the group conversation. But I felt the need to show how the other person is “wrong” in his way of thinking, instead of trying to understand where he’s coming from and his reasons for believing in what he does.
As soon as I understood that, I was able to perceive his view on the matter. And I actually agreed with him on a certain level.
Although we must learn to live with disagreements, there is one thing we ALL need to agree on.
Stop The Violence
As said before, there is no easy solution to this whatsoever. But the easiest part of whatever the solution is is very simple.
Stop the violence.
Well, that’s what we’re trying to do! What do you think we’re thinking up of different solutions for?
Yes, this is much easier said that done. And it really is the essence of what everyone is aiming for, it’s just the methods are all different.
I said those 3 words for a reason. We all know that when violence stops, these problems would literally be non-existence.
But the world doesn’t think about those 3 words enough.
Not enough to stop fighting with each other on how to achieve it. Not enough to stop taking advantage of tragedies like these to push our own political agendas. Not enough to make peace with those around us and humbly come up with a solution together.
At the end of the day, it goes back to the goal that we’re trying to achieve.
Once we let our emotions and personal opinions blind us of what the finish line is, then we’re no longer making progress. And once we stop making progress, we’re regressing as a human race.
NO Rights Ever Come Out Of Wrongs
What Micah Xavier Johnson did is a prime example of revenge fueled by blind rage that makes it infinitely harder for people to work together. The fact that this man aimed to kill white police officers intensified the existing racial tension in the nation.
Does it mean that people of different races don’t trust each other?
No, there are cases where incidents like these strengthens the bond between certain people of different ethnicity. But it definitely doesn’t help for the most part when in comes to imparting trust on each other.
Working Together Must Be The Foundation
This is not an article on my personal political views on gun control, the power of law enforcement, racial profiling and discrimination, etc. This is an article to stimulate thought and logic to hopefully come up with a solution to the problem.
Yes, I just said that right now, there is NO solution to this problem. Not one that works anyway.
And I’m not going to sit here and type away saying that I have it because I do not.
But there is definite hope in this case if we can all work together peacefully on this.
It’s apparent that this issue affect most if not all of us to some extent. If you live in America, you’re definitely living in it.
So let’s forget all the bickering and political views and shove those aside just this once, and work together to find a solution for this problem that should’ve never existed in the first place.
It’s not just black lives that matter, or police lives that matter, but ALL LIVES MATTER. I’m not a promoting or endorsing any group, but I’m simply stating the obvious. We need a solution to protect EVERYONE from these types of tragedies, not just one particular group.