I don’t want to lump all of these incidents together, for in spite of their similarities, they all are different. I’m addressing the media reports of all the police involved shootings, many of which involve unarmed suspects. The most recent police involved shooting making headlines was in Berkeley, Missouri. In this instance, 18-year old Antonio Martin reportedly pointed a gun at an officer, and that officer fired off several rounds killing Martin. The region was already unsettled since the Michael Brown incident, and additional protesters have emerged on the scene as a result of Tuesday night’s shooting. The officer’s identity has not been released as of this writing.
Armed suspect or not –– and regardless of the race and ethnicity of the police officers or background of the citizen – it seems that many police officers shoot to kill. Their extensive training should help take down a perceived threat without the need to kill someone, shouldn’t it? Maybe they don’t get sufficient enough training. Maybe they all don’t follow the training once they are on the job. Maybe it’s easier for the officer to kill someone than risk being killed. I don’t know. But it seems that regardless, this country is headed down a very dark path. Or maybe it’s always been dark and such incidents as these are merely being highlighted more so now than in the past. Many of my friends and associates would say it’s the latter, that these types of acts by police are not new at all.
In Tuesday night’s incident, the facts of the case suggest that the officer was at least justified in shooting the young Martin, although citizens are becoming increasingly frustrated with what seems to be an increase in the number of citizens that are killed as a result of police encounters. These deadly encounters spawn more protests and in some case more riots.
The other odd thing, and maybe odd isn’t the correct word here, is in the different ways these incidents get reported by the different news outlets. I was flipping the channels and some of the facts were very different and it made me do a double-take, wondering whether they were all reporting on the same story. Obviously it’s the same story. I suppose they each like to put their own spin on things to spice things up, so to speak. But if you’re not an informed viewer, information can be misleading. But I digress…
I fear what lies ahead. On top of everything else, the killings of Officers Ramos and Liu in New York will likely cause police officers to be edgy, not just in New York but all around the nation. And the violent protesters don’t help. I’m all for civil disobedience. That has been a cornerstone to securing many rights and effecting lots of positive change in this country. But those individuals who cause damage and destruction through vandalism are making matters worse. It wears down police who probably become more agitated causing them to respond to incidents more aggressively which in turn may cause more rioting. It’s ostensibly a never-ending cycle. I don’t know how to fix it. Are officers poorly trained in the academy? Do they receive too little follow up training? Is it a matter of leadership and is their executive management doing a poor job of articulating the right message down through the ranks? Who knows? What about the citizens? How do we get folks to realize that violence and destruction are not the only ways to get people to listen? The only thing that I know is, things will probably get a lot worse before they get any better. Heaven help us all.