Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Police Brutality @ It's Worst: When Do We Say Enough is Enough?

In the early 90's when I was a freshman college student at UMBC, I had to participate in training to become a Student Peer Advisor for the summer. SPAs were the students who facilitated summer orientation for new students. This year was a politically charged one, for it was the year of the riots in LA after the Rodney King beating court decision.

Even though I had never been to California yet at the time and the images of the beating and the subsequent riots were things I only witnessed on television, I was very connected to what was going on. I had cried a few times alone watching the madness on television, very confused as to how a court could find police officers innocent of a crime that was vividly showcased by video footage. It was a like a Jedi mind trick. Being told that you didn't see what you saw. Being told you aren't feeling what you are feeling.

In this one particular SPA training class, where we were discussing diversity issues, I had just had it. I broke down when the subject of race in our country came up and no one even so subtly referred to what was going on around us at the time. I remember one girl in the class, a Russian immigrant, remarking, she didn't understand why Black people were so angry all the time. At least we could vote, she said.

I think about that now when I read news stories about the young 22 year-old father of a young daughter who was gunned down for no reason in front of a crowd of folks sporting cell phones with video capability.

I think of the sheer audacity it takes to murder someone in front of a group of people and just intrinsically feel and believe that you are justified in what you are doing. I sadly anticipate an impending "investigation" and subsequent trial which will actually debate whether or not the police person was justified in his use of force and murdurous application of his weapon. To even think about this mockery of a trial to be makes my skin boil.

But, its that Jedi mind trick again. Its that societal attempt to goad us to believe that there has to be more to it. That, even though we saw, not one, but several camera angles of the shooting from various folks taping it on their cell phone, there has to be, there has to be some reason that police person shot an unarmed man who was lying prone on the ground. There has to be a reason, right? Right? Right.

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