The United States is a country of pride and nationalism, a place of freedom and justice, right?
Right. Well, except when it comes to people like Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, and now, Philando Castile – a list of just some of the people of color who were betrayed by their own justice system.
These are Americans who were stripped of their human rights and were targets of racially charged violence. Americans whose murders have not been convicted. Americans whose families' lives will forever be lacking in closure and peace, thanks to their own country's justice system.
These were human beings who were treated unfairly by police force, who had committed minor crimes to no crime at all, only to be murdered by supposed symbols of safety. These were brothers, sons, daughters, and friends. They were visiting relatives, playing at the park, driving with family. These Americans and many others are often stripped of their humanity in the eyes of police force, seen as potential criminals instead of peers and neighbors. They are seen as guilty before proven innocent rather than innocent until proven guilty.
It's hard to deny this unequal and unjust treatment of black Americans by the police force when looking at statistics. For example, 69% of African-American victims of police brutality are suspected of non-violent crimes and are unarmed. And black unarmed Americans are statistically twice as likely to be killed by a police officer than a white American. But somehow 97% of police brutality cases result in the officer not being charged with any crime.
This is not to say that Americans like these are always completely clean of crime. Mike Brown had allegedly robbed a convenience store and Freddie Gray had reportedly possessed an illegal switchblade, for example. But minor crimes like these do not excuse the retched amount of violence used to retaliate these crimes by the police, and lack of justice that follows this violence and death.
There is no excuse for human beings to be treated this way by the justice system, especially in a country where white Americans are often cheating the justice system by – not only surviving – but partially getting away with worse crimes.
The infamous Brock Turner, a white privileged Stanford boy, only had to serve 3 months in prison after committing sexual assault. David Becker, a white serial sex offender, received only probation for his heinous acts of assaulting two women in order for him to "look forward to a productive life" that he is somehow entitled to.
Committing rape doesn't compare to stealing tobacco from a convenience store. And that's where the racial disparities become evident. Had Turner or Becker been black men, their fates would have probably turned out to be very different.
There is no excuse for this disgusting level of systemic racism to be continuously overlooked and ignored. We, as a country, shouldn't be failing innocent families like those whose loved ones were victims of police brutality. We are all equally American and equally deserving of safety and justice by the police force.