Though many citizens of the Ohio Valley may disagree, a milestone in American History was reached upon conviction of Derek Chauvin.
Police were testifying against other officers and although many thought it was easy to say that Mr. Chauvin murdered George Floyd, many citizens still sat patiently awaiting an acquittal due to precedent. With the conviction on all counts and a fairly lengthy prison stay awaiting him, some say the decision in the case of officer Chauvin has brought justice to Floyd’s family and other members of the black community. In the opinion of others, this is simply accountability and just the beginning.
As noted by news outlets from across the country, six citizens were killed by police during the same day as the reading of the jury’s decision on Derek Chauvin. When discussing George Floyd with those on the side of “blue lives,” often remarks relating to Floyd’s criminal history, his initial resisting arrest response, or his usage of drugs are used as excuses as to why the actions of the officers were justified. Some people deny the privilege of having white skin in these situations and bring up, “Well white people get killed by police too!”
So why don’t we leave race out of it and examine police brutality and excessive force instead? Why do we have to discredit the struggles of African Americans when we can simply look and see that police continue to abuse their power regardless of the color of our skin? There were only 18 days in 2020 where a police officer did not kill a citizen. Let that sink in. In the Ohio Valley, an area ravaged by drugs, you are blessed if you can say addiction has not touched your life or the life of a loved one. Imagine if that was your child who was caught in the grips of addiction and was murdered by a police officer while under the influence or trying to buy another bag. Would their personal life choices be a justification for death?
Something needs to be done about the way officers are handling situations, especially those that are nonviolent. Are there moments where lethal force is necessary? Absolutely. Are too many citizens who deserve a day in court having their lives cut short? Absolutely. As a white man, I do not have to fear that I will be profiled because of the color of my skin. If I am to be judged, although still unfairly, it will mainly be because of my own life choices. At the end of the day, a few wrong moves and I still have the chance of being murdered by the police and by precedent this officer can say they were scared for their life and at most lose their job. Meanwhile, as a citizen with no training, we are expected to remain calm with guns pointed in our faces or while being talked to like a dog.
Imagine if police did not respond to every call related to a possible mental health crisis and instead a trained social worker or behavioral health professional was called to de-escalate a situation like that of George Floyd. What if police were only used as a means to take care of violent or dangerous situations with an actual imminent threat present?
Not only would this be less stress on police officers, but this could potentially eliminate escalating violent situations occurring over mental health crises that many officers are most likely not trained in. A trained mental health professional deals with clients who are under the influence or having different sorts of episodes weekly.
I am not saying police are bad. I am not discrediting the inequity citizens face throughout America compared to white males. However, the issue of police brutality runs much deeper than the racism that exists in our country. There is no easy fix to this and even with an idea like filtering what calls are taken by officers and which are handled by other professionals, there will need to be trial and error and specific plans on how to handle it before true change can be noticed. We as a nation can do better. I do not have all the answers, but what is occurring in our country is unacceptable and creating a vicious cycle of violence and unrest. No justice. No Peace.
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