Saturday, December 06, 2014

Brown & Garner

I read with interest the events which have occurred in Ferguson and New York City this past week. I debated whether or not to write my viewpoint on the events which have gained national attention. I believe in following the law because without the law there would be chaos. I am not against the police officers in this country as a whole.That being said I cannot understand the justification in discharging one's weapon 12 times on an unarmed man or watching on video as an older man is placed in an illegal choke hold which goes against written police policy and was ruled a "homicide" by the Medical Examiner's Office. In both cases the secret grand jury came back with no indictments on the police officers in question. Maybe the grand jury in the Ferguson case received inaccurate testimony and could not reach an indictment.  Maybe the grand jury did not have concrete evidence to press charges? It is difficult to make a decision with conflicting information. Maybe Michael Brown did run towards the police officer and the police officer felt justified in discharging his weapon? Maybe the police officer thought Michael Brown had a weapon and the police officer discharged his own weapon in self-defense? What we do know about this case is the police officer discharged his weapon 12 times in which 6 of those bullets entered the head and chest of Michael Brown and were the cause of death. What we do know is the toxicology report showed Michael Brown had cannabis in his system. Did cannabis in his system mean he could have been violent. I doubt it. I never heard of anyone getting violent from smoking pot. Is cannabis illegal in St. Louis. Yes. Did Michael Brown break the law? Yes and No. He had cannabis in his system which is against the law. Was a crime committed that facilitated the confrontation with the police? We will never know because there was no arrest, charge, trial or conviction and one of the participating parties is dead.

Eric Garner allegedly was selling loose cigarettes in Staten Island. His attempted arrest lead to a chokehold which is forbidden practice by trained police officers in New York. Digital video clearly displays the chokehold and Eric Garner saying "I can't breathe". The Medical Examiner ruled the death as a homicide. Another grand jury came back with no indictments. What? The grand jury came back with no indictments? Why? Contributing factors of obesity and asthma is not the cause of death. The cause of death was suffocation. The man could not breathe as a direct result of being choked recorded on video.

Where I worked we are trained in "Handle with Care" with yearly mandatory retrainings. If I ever attempted to place a person in a chokehold whatever the reason I would be on the fast track of unemployed. As a mental Health worker, I follow a strict set of ethnics that clearly states, " do no harm". If I break that code of ethnics whatever the reason I lose my license, my job, my ability to practice in a clinical setting but most of all my integrity.

Both men were black and unarmed. Both police officers were white and armed. Both black men are dead. The punishment does not fit the apparent crime. The police are trained to protect the citizens. Those who enforce the law are not suppose to break the law however it is done everyday in this country. Take a close look at our politicians. 
 We do not live in a post racial society. We should live in a post racial society. Have we not learned anything from the 1960's Civil Rights Movement? Hasn't history taught us anything?

Everyday we hear statements such as "Innocent until proven guilty" however in all reality it appears the statement should be "Guilty until proven innocent". Depending who you are is how you will be treated. I will never cosign violent protests that result in destruction. However I understand it. The squeaky wheel gets attention. An oppress people without a voice and is not heard will succumb to violence because that is what history dictates. Every war in history is about being heard. We are called the United States because of the Revolutionary War. Think about the Civil War and the World Wars. Women Suffrage. We really do forget our history.

I had a conversation about the incidents that occurred in Ferguson and New York with a colleague/friend whom I greatly respect who happens to be a black man. I asked him what he thought about the events/outcomes. He replied "I expected it".

When are we as white folks going to wake up and come together with minorities as one people? I think it pretty sad that the events in our history could lead my friend, or any other person to just expect that injustice would be done.

Part II will follow as I have a hell of a lot more to say.

No comments: