No Justice, No Peace – Taking a Stand Against Police Brutality
In case you didn’t know, my brother The W and I, are black men.
We don’t live in the United States, but we have a brother and many family members who do. For a long time, we’ve feared for their safety as we hoped that they never faced a situation where they had to interact with the police, however, now, with the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, we’re terrified for them and every black person living in the United States.
Just like us, you may have seen the videos of police officers murdering two innocent black men this week and, just like us, you may have been angered by it.
Here’s our opinion on the situation.
WHAT'S SO UPSETTING
When an innocent black person can be stopped, harassed and killed by an incompetent police officer who’s threatened by the shadow of a person with darker skin, there is major cause for concern. As far as we were able to see from the footage released on Facebook and Instagram, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile did nothing wrong and were shot for no good reason because the police officers in each case feared for their lives. Even if Sterling and Castile did something wrong, what happened to “Freeze! Put your hands up!” ?
Cops now shoot first and ask questions later. They’ve been doing it for years and have faced no consequence for their actions. The lack of consequences has given black people a reason to create the #blacklivesmatter movement to find a way to stop police officers from harassing or killing innocent and unarmed black people.
Racism and xenophobia are a huge part of this problem and police brutality disproportionately affects african americans more than any other group. However, the police brutalize and kill all people. There are countless cases of police brutality that affect everyone. The problem is that, when it comes to black people, their racial bias and prejudice affects the way they handle the situation and it often ends in a tragedy. Furthermore, when similar situations happen involving white people, the outcome is incredibly different and they rarely end with someone losing their lives.
The truly frustrating aspect of all this is that, just like decades ago, it seems that different rules apply to black people. Our crimes are worse, our sentences are more severe and anything we do is perceived as a threat. For instance, a white person can take advantage of their second amendment right and carry a gun in public with all the support from fellow americans. If a black person, who’s supposed to have the same rights does the same thing, he needs to be put down because he’s a threat to society.
Where's the logic in that?
THE CASE OF ALTON STERLING
There are too many deaths and cases to name to strengthen my point, so I’ll focus on the two that happened this week. In Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Alton Sterling was apparently selling CDs outside of a convenience store when someone called the police saying that a man with a gun was outside doing God knows what. The police show up, they confront Sterling – we don’t know if Sterling was the man the caller referred to – they wrestle him down to the ground, the cops draw their guns, one of them yells “Gun!” and they shoot a subdued Sterling seconds later. In the video, we watch him die as a police officer yells “Fuck!".
Sterling's family held a press conference to call for justice for his death as the country discussed what they had just witnessed through the power of social media. If you’ve seen the video, you know in your gut that what happened was wrong and could’ve been avoided. What I don’t understand is how the media is trying to justify Sterling's death by releasing his criminal record with charges dating back to the 1990s.
Sterling's death ignited protests and outrage across the country.
THE CASE OF PHILANDO CASTILE
A day later, in Falcon Heights, Philando Castile was driving around with his girlfriend and her four year-old daughter. Since Castile had a busted tail light, he was pulled over by a police officer in a routine traffic stop. Castile had a concealed carry license and informed the officer that he had a weapon in the car. The cop asked him for ID, and when Castile reached for it, the cop shot him four times because he thought Castile was reaching for the gun.
The video shows Castile’s girlfriend recounting the event right after her boyfriend had been shot. The gut-wrenching part of the video is the four year-old daughter trying to console her mother while they’re in custody in a cop car.
Castile was an innocent, law-abiding citizen who died for nothing.
If that doesn’t make you angry making you want to protest, march and peacefully implement change, I don’t know what will. This was wrong and could have happened to anybody.
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE
There have been protests all over the country to denounce the injustice that these two men faced this week. These #blacklivesmatter protests usually are peaceful and hope to highlight the problem to effect change. Most importantly, the officers need to face consequences for their actions in order to stop this type of thing from happening over and over again.
While accepting a Humanitarian of the Year designation at the BET Awards, Jesse Williams took the time to make a powerful speech to rally black people everywhere to take a stand against this madness. His words are even more powerful now. These protests need to keep happening until the culture changes, but nothing will be achieved if it isn’t through peace and positivity. No matter how angry we may be about the situation.
Unfortunately, in a Dallas protest last night, snipers took aim at police officers and killed 4 of them. The death of these police officers was as unnecessary, tragic and disheartening as the deaths of Sterling and Castile. These Dallas cops were innocent and did not deserve to die.
Gunning officers down gets us nowhere because the loss of any life is tragic. You don’t protest the loss of lives by taking more lives. We have to be above simple, "eye for an eye" type of vengeance and continue to peacefully protest the injustices in order to get somewhere.
We need to train the cops to deal with these types of situations in a calmer way. Cops are supposed to diffuse heated situations, not escalate them.
We also need to stop making cops believe that african americans are more dangerous than any other person on the planet. Yes, cops should protect themselves, but shooting someone should be an absolute last resort. Right now it seems that it the only thing they can think of doing.
Also, cops are not all powerful beings. They are to protect and serve the citizens who pays their salaries, not terrorize them. Citizens have rights and they are allowed to defend these rights if cops are trying to violate them. They should be able to do this without fearing for their lives.
Listen, we don’t have all the answers to the social issues that we’re facing. We’re just two guys with a blog that a few people know about. But we’ve reached a point where we can no longer witness black people dying for being black. We’ve reached that point years ago with Trayvon Martin, then with Michael Brown, then with Tamir Rice, then with Freddie Gray and the list goes on and on. This year alone, the police have killed 136 unarmed black people.
We can’t sit by and watch them normalize murdering black people. We just can’t.
Until the officers are brought to justice and face legal consequences for their actions, these protests will continue.
If there is no justice, then there will be no peace.
P.S.: If you want real news and a true, unbiased account of all these events, watch the Young Turks on YouTube.
written by Georje Wilden