It remains to be seen whether or not the group organizing this weeks’ demonstrations protesting police violence against Blacks will get widespread support and enough attention to actually make a difference. But it is a start, and this nation needs to start somewhere if the dreams of emancipation, of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and of every black woman who has borne a child will ever be realized. Hopefully the public outcry will give hope and comfort to the families of those unarmed youth slain by police officers.
Much as I understand and support the outcry, I am concerned that it doesn’t go far enough and that it appears to be overlooking two critical components of most recent slayings by police. Those components concern the weapons with which police officers are armed and the training they are given. Based on a few comments made in obscure reports, it appears that police now have the type of armaments previously used only by soldiers. Indeed, it has been reported, that the Department of Defense has been giving excess equipment to police departments. This includes items such as tanks and high-powered automatic guns.
Furthermore, some of you may remember the “good ol’ days when most of the reports about police shootings that we heard would include the word “wounded,” as in, “…police shot and wounded…(such and such)… who is expected to survive…” We no longer hear or read the “expected to survive” component. Rather, we hear that police are now trained to aim at the torso. No wonder then that so few victims survive being shot by police. They are actually trained and equipped to shoot only to kill.
The answer to this problem is NOT retraining police officers to have more cultural sensitivity. The answer is to stop arming these officers of the law to kill. When they do so, it deprives totally innocent victims of the right to a trial as well as those who may have committed a crime. But because of being dead, they lose their right to a trial. No one but a judge has the constitutional right to sentence a criminal to death, but given the arming of police officers, they all now have the means to execute without fear of ever being tried or punished for killing their victims.
It is my hope that the National Action Network will address this problem head-on and thus raise national awareness of it.