The duty of police officers is to keep citizens safe in the city they reside in, no matter the cost. We put our lives in the hands of the protectors whenever we are in dangerous situations, such as: robbery, assault, rape, child molestation, abduction, etc., but what do we do when our heroes turn into the villians in the eyes of African-Americans?
There have been numerous cases of police brutality against the African-American community since time can remember.
So for the misinformed, what exactly is police brutality? Police brutality is when police officers abuse their authority for undue violence on civilians illegally; although.
Even though police brutality is a crime, police officers are not punished like criminals would be for committing a crime. Most police officers are suspended with pay while an investigation of such misconduct is in progress.
On July 17, 2014, 43-year-old Eric Garner was killed by Caucasian New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo because of, what I believe was, police brutality. According to TIME, Pantaleo placed Garner in a chokehold after accusing him of selling individual cigarettes tax-free. A witness told TIME that Garner was actually just breaking up a fight. After numerous times of Garner telling the police officer that he could not breath, the officer would not release the chokehold around his neck. Pantaleo was investigated and was not charged in the death of Garner.
However, five years later, after intense scrutiny from the community, Mayor Bill de Blasio finally made a decision to fire Pantaleo, not because of the crime, but because he violated a department ban on chokeholds.
I could go on and on with more examples, such as Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, John Crawford III, Dontre Hamilton and the list goes on, but I digress.
How can we put our trust into the law that is built to attack our rights as human beings and take away our judicial processes? It has become the “new norm” for our African-American community to be brutalized and demeaned by the hands of authority, specifically when it comes to policing.
In these critical times in the world, I’d hope that on these issues we would be progressing further in how our relationships are with other races and/or authorities, but it seems like we are backtracking to an era where we are being judged by the color of our skin instead of the content of our character.
As a nation, we need to stand together, spread awareness and bring attention to this matter.
The next person could be you.
Rayshaun Stevens is a freshman political science and journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]