and the System that Kills Them
Once again an officer has been acquitted of murdering an unarmed black human being, Philando Castille, during a routine traffic stop. Mr. Castille, a beloved school cafeteria worker, informed the officer he had a registered weapon in his car. The officer shot Mr. Castille five times while Castille was still inside his car and his 4-year-old daughter was in the back seat. The weapon was not within Mr Castillo’s reach. I weep with Mr. Castille’s friends and family.
Last month, another officer was acquitting for the same thing. While another unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, walked slowly to his car with his arms above his head, four officers had guns on Mr. Crutcher; he was shot in the back by one of those officers.
How much longer are we to accept this standard of killing, this message that black lives don’t matter? How much longer are we to accept this lack of training for police officers, this egregious level of fear, hostility and violence toward Black folks in our society? The way some police officers treat citizens of our country is nothing less than a declaration of war, and we citizens must demand change in a justice system that is beyond broken – it is malignant and dangerous.
Our officers were never intended to be part of an army – they were intended to be part of our communities as peace officers – yes, civil servants hired to bring peace to our communities. They must be retrained to do so.
The way some police officers treat citizens of our country is nothing less than a declaration of war, and we citizens must demand change in a justice system that is beyond broken – it is malignant and dangerous.
If we think we have dangerous criminals in our midst, then perhaps we must bring in army reserves to route them out of our communities and fight fire with fire, for certainly our police are out-manned and out-gunned by gangs and mobs and deadly criminals.
But our police officers who have been taught to fear and kill first and ask questions later must be brought back to safety, to serve and protect our communities, by living within our communities and participating in them. They should not be attacking unarmed citizens or racially profiling neighbors at traffic stops or killing our sons and husbands and fathers on a daily basis. This relationship is out of control; the Southern Strategy has raised its angry fist and is invading every major city in every State.
While many officers would never react the way these two officers reacted, it is the system that is pernicious, and we must find an antidote before it decays completely. We must build bridges instead of more prisons; we must build community instead of walls. I pray we do so soon.