Protests have again broken out across the country as people have gathered together in larger numbers than we’ve ever seen before to rally against a system that is clearly broken.
After the chokehold death of Eric Garner and the non-indictment of NYPD Police Officer Daniel Pantaelo protests again broke out reminding some of the protests that were seen in Ferguson, Missouri after a similar situation played out just a little over a week ago.
A Grand Jury returning a non-indictment is proof of a thoroughly broken system. It is proof that no matter what people say about police cameras – the issue goes far beyond simply seeing what a police officer does on the scene during an incident, or arrest. It’s proof of systemic failure, not individual failure. That’s why I’ve found it particularly frustrating to listen to the criticism that has fallen upon those who have spoken up and noted that when it comes to this issue – a big portion of the problem stems from the policy that exists.
My argument isn’t suggesting that Eric Garner or Michael Brown’s lives were not important, and worthy of further pushing to ensure that justice is brought to the individuals who ultimately were responsible for their deaths. Whether that is found to be the officer involved, or the departments in a civil manner, ultimately someone should be taking responsibility for the actions that led to the death of at least one individual who seemed to – as far as the video evidence shows – really did nothing to deserve the final outcome – which was the loss of his life. They did not die in vain.
For my own money, the Eric Garner case seems significantly different than the Michael Brown case. First, it seems to be that the police have no formal evidence that Eric Garner is even breaking the law. They do not frisk him and they do no question him specifically. They just approach him, begin to grab him after some banter, and then swarm him before taking him down, pinning him in submission, and after repeated cries that he couldn’t breathe – did not relent in any way the force that they were initially using.
There’s something abhorrently distorted about the notion that changing the way police conduct their duty will somehow drastically change the way people are prosecuted and treated – especially in these types of scenarios. Many are calling for training, and development of the police forces to ensure that the best practices are applied when dealing with the community, and when they’re dealing with a diverse community.
When I say large scale policy, this is what I’m talking about:
Racism exists beyond law enforcement and the justice system – and it definitely didn’t just pop up out of the clear blue sky.
The solutions to the problems we’re facing go so far beyond how police interact with people, and they go so far beyond how police are trained to do their jobs. Sure, that is definitely a piece of the puzzle – but that is by no means – the whole puzzle, and the more I listen to people discuss the matter – the more I hear people become more laser focused on the issue of police, the use of force, and how they interact with individuals in racially diverse communities.
The system we need to change is the system that gets people involved in real decision making. I’m not talking about protests, and I’m not talking about changing the way the police do business. You can do those things, and those changes can be implemented – but we need to ensure that there is diverse involvement and education happening in the actual process itself when it comes to passing legislation, being active within communities – even when major outrage is not felt after a polarizing event, and getting people out to vote on issues.
Those are the systems we need to fix if we really want to fix the racial divide that exists in this country because this isn’t exclusively a police/race issue. This issue involves everyone, and everyone needs to be a part of the solution beyond the protests.