We have all seen the news and heard what is happening right here in our country. There are millions of people signing petitions, protesting, and donating to the Black Lives Matter movement. The question I ask myself is, why do they have to?
Police all over America have been using excessive force and/or killing Black people, but this is nothing new. Police have been brutalizing the Black community for a long time. An abundance of these cases could have been de-escalated by the police.
Breonna Taylor was a twenty-six-year-old African-American woman who was shot at least eight times by the police. The officers involved were Brett Hankison, Jon Mattingly, and Myles Cosgrove. They had a no-knock warrant because they have been investigating two men, whom they thought were selling drugs and getting deliveries out of Breonna’s house. They entered unannounced and without stating that they were the police. Breonna’s boyfriend got out his gun and shot one of the officers in the leg. They immediately fired shots and killed Breonna Taylor. Hankison, Mattingly, and Cosgrove still haven’t faced criminal charges.
Elijah McClain was a twenty-three-year-old Black man, who was walking home when officers Nathan Woodyard, Jason Rosenblatt and Randy Roedema confronted him. The officers got a call about a suspicious person in a ski mask and went to go investigate. They confronted McClain, and the officers thought he was reaching for a weapon, so they tried to get McClain into custody and claimed that he was resisting arrest. They tackled him, put him in a carotid hold, and called first responders who then injected him with ketamine. This caused McClain to have a heart attack. He was declared brain dead a couple of days later and Woodyard, Rosenblatt, and Roedema were cleared of all charges.
Both Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain were model citizens. Elijah was a massage therapist that went to local animal shelters and played the violin for cats and dogs because he thought it would soothe their anxiety. The only reason he wore a mask was because he had anemia and got cold easily. Also, he didn’t reach for a weapon, he reached for his pocket because he wanted to turn his music off. Breonna Taylor was an emergency room technician who had big dreams of becoming a nurse, starting a family, and buying a house. There was no need for the police to go that far.
There have been many, many cases like Breonna’s and Elijah’s. The gut-wrenching thing is that they didn’t even need to die. The police saw them as a threat because of the color of their skin. The police are supposed to be our protectors, but they are, instead, instilling fear into the black and POC community.
One way to make sure situations like this decrease is to make the police have more years of training. It takes them about six months to become a police officer. We are entrusting them with our lives. They need to be able to know how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations and get educated on how Black people’s skin color shouldn’t be seen as a threat. Also cutting off a suspect’s breathing should be banned. Some police have killed people by not allowing them to breathe. Examples include Eric Garner and George Floyd. If the police have already restrained the suspect, they shouldn’t need to cut off their breathing. Also, there should be a board of members to determine whether police should have gone to the extent of using a great deal of brute force against suspects. If they had their body cam on, it would be easy to plead their case. My next point is that body cams should be on at all times, officers shouldn’t be able to turn them off.
Another solution is that officers should have deep background checks to see if they have a racist history. This way, we are preventing racists from being able to have authority over others. There should also be a punishment for police who use the Blue Wall of Silence. The Blue Wall of Silence is a silent oath some police take, in which they don’t rat out the misconducts of other police in their department. There are many examples of this and it needs to be stopped.
Finally, the police need to be held accountable for their actions. They need to protect the people instead of brutalizing and/or killing them. Not all police think this way but some use force and others don’t report their colleagues’ misconduct. We want to feel safe instead of scared.
Temiloluwa Owomoyela – Chicago Waldorf – DMSF