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Monday, June 01, 2020

Where Are We Now?

Ladies and Gentlemen of the world, where are we now? The continued and seemingly endless fight against police brutality and racial injustice has seen the latest rash of incidents cause mass outrage and hysteria. Why? Is this the ultimate breaking point to which there are calls for martial law and war declared in the streets. I sincerely hope not. Really. Is this the stage where the violated turn the other cheek and remain civil as the long arm of the law runs its course. I do not believe this is the solution either. So again with the question and apparent theme, where are we now? I remember when I first heard the term, “F the police”. At that time, it was a symbol of anger for constant harassment in the urban neighborhoods. Police would patrol communities and just scatter large groups wherever they were found. The response to that was less cooperation. The problem with that is innocence was destroyed. People protected their own by not talking to authorities or providing false statements to deter arrests. In the ripen time of gangs, the average outsider could not tell banger from student from drug dealer. The community mocked law enforcement with cars and homes an honest salary would never be able to afford with the definitions of masculinity and coolness falling to them as well. Wow. Again the innocence is lost as we begin to root for the bad guy. It is the forbidden love affair with dark temptation as the rewards of crime become glaringly irresistible. Its all fun and games while we witness the evolution. I remember when there was understandable national outrage and intrigue after a man was beaten by four police officers while being recorded on camera. People were shocked and disgusted as we saw what we thought were the heights of injustice. The epitome of excessive force and brutality were right in front of our eyes. The complaints were heard but this was different. Attacks and violence by uniformed officers were a breaking point. The response of looting and rioting rang out in the streets. People vandalized stores and stole property because they were upset. They were very very mad about what happened to another individual, one of their own, so a price must be paid. What is that price though? Is it the venting of frustration or the means toward a solution for the assaulted party? I think it is much closer to the former but that might only be my opinion. What happens next? More daily disrespect between cops and civilians. Epithets like pig and thug were exchanged at every encounter. People gain just enough leeway to feel they were never in the wrong when confronted by police. It didn’t matter what the speedometer shows, there was not a reason to be stopped when traveling to and fro. Officers loss so much credibility as you can not tell who were the bad guys and who were the good guys anymore. Past violations lead to more reasons to challenge the penalty and resist being taken into custody. Confront the law with your words was the choice on most occasions. Instead of calling the police, more people handled their own issues as fist fights and gunshots were more reliable means of justice to some and celebrated by few. Bad choices or the results of earlier actions that feel compelled to always display the clear separation. That separation was an area of mass incarceration as the law and how it applies to us was being transformed as a retort to the insecurities of all persons involved. Bottom line is it got worse. We heard the cries of how it was only a small amount of drugs, racial profiling and overcharging for misdemeanors but it was hedging on the start of almost zero tolerance policies. The shift showed that law enforcement would have judges and juries assisting if the lines were actually drawn to pick sides. In bold letters, the message was delivered that you could not be a minority and make any mistakes. The era of minorities becoming wealthy through sports, music and movies earning powerful voices that rivaled those of civil rights activists gone by was here. And while they were able to give middle incomes families tons of enjoyment through their battles and accomplishments, it did not stop the injustice or brutality. It continued and when we said stop, it happened more. When we said enough, it happened more. It almost became two groups. Those that glorify criminal behavior and those that oppose but when the glorifiers began to play Robin Hood giving back to the poor, we saw the opposers ready and willingly to play the ever popular bad guy more and more. Again where are we now? Everyone has camera phones now and the first reaction is to pull it out and record as soon as police show up to the scene. At any given moment, every video streaming service is filled with evidence from any town in America with the most recent story that you must see and be aware of. Someone says show leniency and another shouts let me do my job. Sometimes officers are trying to clear a scene making sure there are not more threats while people shout the person they are apprehending did nothing wrong and does not deserve whatever is happening. Its mass confusion that leads to mass panic for an eruption of chaos in short. We say all lives matter and all lives are precious but only fight for a select few, only support a select few, only riot and loot for a select few. If it were any other person who lost their life in the same manner, how many would be ready with the hats, t-shirts and hoodies to wear during the marches? How many would be ready to bash in store windows and burn or bomb buildings to say this man was meaningful in our lives? Yes it was wrong that someone died but the retribution should not be in destroying Target or Gucci. They say two wrongs do not make a right so why act in the same way that we felt was so egregious only seconds earlier. We are not talking an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth, we are talking about years of frustration on both sides where provoked vindication does not overlap. This loss would seemingly hurt with a greater pain than many others. That is sad as well. This is not to condemn those mourning. In fact I pray for the family and friends of Mr. Floyd. The officers were fired and the one directly responsible will eventually face trial. More maybe if the charges are filed. But do we want more? Do we compare incidents like this to those of harsher crimes and decree more death for those accused of crimes or remain steadfast that this is wrongful death and should happen to no one? Where are we now? Is it harder to be a law abiding citizen or live the lives where it is all good? 

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