Both Sides Of The Police Debate Have True And Faux Points

Both Sides Of The Police Debate Have True And Faux Points

Rhetoric is used on both sides of the aisle.

With two recent killings of black men by police and a mass shooting of police by a black man, the conversation of police brutality is back on the table in America. You have groups such as Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter arguing two very different things. The truth is, the propaganda and rhetoric is rampant on both sides.

Black Lives Matter is a group created after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. They have brought the conversation of police brutality into the national spotlight and advocate for police reform. Although Black Lives Matter has created a conversation in this country that needs to be had, it makes some questionable claims.

For example, on its website the group claims that every 28 hours a black man, woman or child is killed by a police officer or some other form of law enforcement. Police departments are not required to submit this data to the federal government, so anybody claiming they know how many people die at the hands of the police should be met with skepticism. However, the Washington Post has been taking a tally and around this time last year, 155 black people were killed by police out of 607 total. That is not nearly one every 28 hours.

Also, less than one-tenth of that total was unarmed, 24 being black. It is important to differentiate between “murder” and “killing.” To murder someone means to kill someone with a malicious intent. A police officer ending the life of someone who has a weapon, in fear for their own life, should not be considered a “murderer” and that person shouldn’t be considered to have been murdered. Yes, 607 people killed by police is a lot, but 85 percent of them were armed. That makes a difference.

That being said, the idea that police officers are murderers runs through the website. On the “National Demand’s” page, for example, they called for the immediate arrest of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown. A grand jury found that there was not enough evidence to indict Darren Wilson. Actually, the grand jury found that Michael Brown did in fact try to grab the officer's gun, so Darren was acting in self-defense. Even though a grand jury decided not to prosecute him, Black Lives Matter still wants him arrested.

Overturning the rule of law is a very, very dangerous way to win reform. The people asking for this violation of the rule of law are the ones who should be absolutely against it. You started a movement to protest against the disrespect of rule of law for your own people (that black people are being arrested and unfairly treated by police) and to fix that you’re going to overturn the rule of law for someone else? That makes no sense and completely shatters your argument. Also, police shooting black people isn’t just a matter of prejudice. Roughly 29 percent of Americans killed by the police are black, but so are about 42 percent of cop killers whose race is known.

With all this being said, something still needs to be done. This level of police violence is unique to the United States. In 2013, England and Wales had virtually zero deaths at the hands of police. The Black Lives Matter movement would argue for less police in minority neighborhoods and put that money into improving the community. However, these communities do not need less policing. These people desperately need the police. It should not be considered a right-wing talking point that far more black people are killed by other black people than police officers. What these communities need are less-confrontational, less-institutionally racist policing.

First, America needs to fix its gun problem. Police have to be more careful because there are more guns on the streets of America. In 2014, 46 cops were shot dead and the year before that 52,000 were assaulted. Cops being shot is also unique to the United States. Simple fixes like universal background checks, preventing people with restraining orders filed against them from getting guns, and banning assault rifles could be a huge help. With fewer guns on the streets, cops will be less confrontational.

Second, police precincts need to be more transparent. As of right now, police precincts do not have to report to the federal government how many people died at the hands of their officers. This needs to be changed. Reporting this information would give the federal government a better picture of how many people actually die due to police action and locate where it is unusually high. The federal government could also locate where it is unusually low, find out why that is, and use that information to help other cities. Body cameras should be put on all officers to help both sides. If a body camera was on Darren Wilson, we would all have immediately knew what happened.

Third, police need to be held more accountable. It needs to be easier to fire bad cops. Many of the 12,500 local police departments are tiny and interdisciplinary panels consisting of three fellow officers, one of which can even be appointed by the officer under investigation. If a cop is accused of a crime, the decision of whether to indict him lays with the prosecutor who often works closely with the police, attends barbecues with them, and depends on the support of the police union if he/she wants to be reelected. To be held accountable, complaints should be held by independent arbiters who are brought in from the outside.

Lastly, and hardest, is reversing the militarization of the police. Too many officers see their job as a war on criminals and too many poor neighborhoods see their streets occupied by police. There needs to be more training and less weaponry. A good start would be for the Pentagon to stop handing out military kits to neighborhood police.

In 1980, the amount of raids done by high-security SWAT teams was 3,000 per year and that number has climbed to 50,000 a year, yet crime has fallen over the same period. Police precincts need to understand that their job is less about settling violence but more about social work. In the era of relatively low crime which we are experiencing today, cops are needed more to settle domestic disputes such as house-egging, rather than violent crimes.

Force is also used in low-level offenders. At least half of all Americans shot and killed by police each year are mentally ill. Police officers also spend a lot of time dealing with drug addicts and the enforcement of civil penalties against people who have not paid motoring fines or child support. Such people are not killers or rapists, yet cops often treat everyone as a threat.

Changes are being made. Sue Rahr, the director of Washington state’s police academy, says, “When you approach a situation like RoboCop, you’re going to create hostility that wasn’t there before.” Since 2012, Washington State’s training has emphasized that people can be persuaded to obey commands, not just forced to. Military-style drills have also been ditched.

Ideas like this need to be made in police precincts across the nations. Training police officers to properly adjust to today’s crime climate is a win for individual freedom and we the people. Once again, society works better when people are generally left to their own devices...not living in a police state.

Cover Image Credit: Boing Boing

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Starbucks Corrects Its Wrongs In Light Of Recent Racial Bias Issue

All stores in the U.S. will be closed on May 29th to perform racial bias training.

Recently, a video of two African-American men being arrested in their local Starbucks for simply standing and waiting for their friends in the lobby/seating area surfaced on the internet. Since this situation was brought to light, there has been an uproar of public outrage focused on the blatant racial bias these men were faced with. Even Starbucks itself had something to say about it.

For many African-American citizens, this situation is all too common. Being racially profiled is not a thing of the past and more than just these two men have experienced it. The ACLU writes about the experiences of citizens being racially profiled, stating,

"We rely on the police to protect us from harm and promote fairness and justice in our communities. But racial profiling has led countless people to live in fear, casting entire communities as suspect simply because of what they look like, where they come from, or what religion they adhere to."

In light of the recent incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, many fans expressed outrage in the comments section of this post, but Starbucks responded to almost every viral, angry comment:

However, in the midst all of the outraged comments were fans who appreciated the message that Starbucks was trying to send:

Despite the mixed reviews on Starbucks' course of action, the company is standing strong in their choice to address the issue and correct it.

People come to Starbucks stores to drink coffee, hang out, talk with their friends, and have a good time. It is absurd that these two men were escorted out and arrested for doing just that. I, personally, have done that same thing and have never once been asked to leave.

As a country, we need to think about the way we treat people of color and other minorities. It is a shame that this kind of public outcry had to happen to bring racial profiling to our attention. People are treated unfairly for no reason other than the color of their skin every day.

Way to go, Starbucks.

Thank you for recognizing that this was not an isolated incident and that racial profiling happens all the time. Thank you for taking the time to publicly announce that you are willing to go through the proper training with your employees to ensure that it doesn't happen ever again. But most of all, thank you for making a statement to the rest of the nation and the world about what kind of company you are, what kind of people you represent, and that racial injustice will not be tolerated.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Why Earth Day Is Underrated, And What You Can Do

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.” –The Lorax

April 22 may be just another day to most, but with climate change on the rise and wildlife becoming extinct, it’s more important now than ever to recognize Earth Day and understand what it entails. Our society as a whole cannot let this day pass with nothing done. It has to serve as a reminder of the action that must be taken.

Late January of 1969 would come to be a turning point for our nation. At the time, the worst oil spill in history occurred in Santa Barbara, California. Founder of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson was horrified, yet inspired. Soon after, he announced his idea to teach the nation about the environment and built a staff to promote events across the country.

Earth Day brought thousands of colleges and universities together to fight for the cause. It became a sense of unity for everyone. No matter who you were, what race you were, where you came from, Earth Day was able to empower these people and help them realize they all wanted the same thing for the home we share. This kind of behavior is exactly what we need today, and should enable us to see that we’re all on the same side.

By the time 1990 came, Earth Day became a global event. 200 million people were involved to fight for environmental issues.

Today, Earth Day and the environment face many challenges. With those who deny climate change, deforestation, oil lobbyists, fracking, dying animal life, politicians dividing our nation on these issues, and much more, Earth Day astoundingly continues to prevail through the obstacles. With over 190 counties participating in the event each year, and more than 1 billion people, it’s never too late to do your part and contribute to the day.

Here are some basic things that anyone can do to make a change. Every day counts, and anything you do matters.

1. Join a local outdoors cleanup

Rivers, forests, beaches, whatever is near you. Help clean up litter and debris.

2. Carpool

This is probably the simplest thing you and your friends or family can do. If you’re going to the same place, drive together. For every mile you don’t drive- you’re reducing your carbon footprint by 1 pound.

3. Bring reusable bags when you shop

They’re cheap, cute, and save an abundance on plastic.

4. Use a reusable water bottle

Save on wasting plastic bottles every day.

5. Use environmentally friendly cleaning products

Typical cleaning products are high in chemicals and toxicity.

6. Always recycle!

Paper, plastic, cans, anything you can. Every individual thing recycled makes a difference.

7. Use LED lightbulbs

This can reduce your footprint 450 pounds per year.

8. Volunteer at local environmental groups

See if your school has an environmental club, or anything local in your town. See how many people you can get to do it with you and make a day out of it.

9. Donate your clothes and check out thrift stores

Instead of throwing them out, give them to somewhere they will be of use. Also, thrift shopping is inexpensive and you can find some really unexpectedly great items!

10. Don’t wait until Earth Day to do all of these things

Keep up the green behavior year-round.

Do your part, and do what you can today.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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