Shielding the Shield: Cops or Criminals

I never thought I would see the day when police officers and criminals would bear the same likeness.  In the wake of two of the most controversial grand jury decisions of  late (Mike Brown and Eric Garner),  an undercurrent of distrust and outrage has begun to erode the landscape of police integrity across our nation.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a cold-blooded murderer and a corrupt cop.  The badge that police officers don (usually in the shape of a shield) is supposed to represent a creed and a vow to shield the public from dangerous criminal activity.  Lately, however, it seems to provide sanctuary for hardened racists and trigger-happy “good ole boys,” all grown up.  These are the type of people who wield guns and dish out lethal force in the name of “reasonable” suspicion and “probable” cause.  What recourse do we have when the creed to protect and serve becomes a scheme to assault and assassinate?

The problem with the recent events in Ferguson and New York is the fact that officers Daniel Pantaleo and Darren Wilson had a choice, and they chose to kill.  I understand that sometimes extenuating circumstances surrounding certain events produce reactions which are based in heightened emotions.  However, with power and authority comes great responsibility.  Cops should never be absolved of their responsibility to use all available training, tools, and judgment to ensure preservation of life in every situation if at all possible.  I can’t help but question the protocols and procedures that are in place concerning the rules of engagement for the unarmed and defenseless, and how those rules differ in the face of skin color.  It would seem that a different set of rules apply to African-American men as opposed to Whites when cops are involved.

As I peruse news headlines, I’m infuriated by how the machine known as the media manipulates our perception of actual events.  For those of us who are not there to witness these confrontations, we find ourselves at the mercy of the media.  This, combined with the decaying moral fabric of both law enforcement and prosecuting attorneys, creates the perfect trifecta (police, prosecutors, and media) which facilitates the creation and abetment of these monsters we call cops.  Of course I refuse to employ marginalization by insinuating that all cops are corrupt.  I think we can agree that is the farthest thing from the truth.  There are many police officers who uphold the law and are very good at it.  However, when it comes to the simple fact that countless men of color have been brutally murdered by law enforcement, with few to no repercussions, the question begs to be asked: How does race factor into law enforcement?

By now, it’s no secret that the police force has traditionally been the instrument of racial terrorism.  Dating back to Reconstruction, immediately after the abolition of slavery, the law has been used to target and incapacitate people of color (see Black Codes).  The genesis of the crisis at hand dates back to a series of Supreme Court decisions that set precedent for allowing racial profiling by law enforcement; the most prominent being Terry v. Ohio.  In her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander sites this case as she pontificates the process by which the legal system has been systematically rigged, thus creating the proverbial albatross around the neck of young African-American men.

In the 1968, Terry v. Ohio decision, the Supreme Court decided that it is permissible to “stop and frisk” a person based on a “reasonable suspicion” that they are involved in criminal activity.   In my opinion, this has opened an enormous can of worms, and fueled a fire that has burned out of control for so many years.  The natural degradation of this process now allows a cop to stop anyone for absolutely no reason at all, and as long as that person consents to a search, “probable cause” is no longer needed.

What exactly constitutes “reasonable suspicion?”  This has been the topic of heated discussions among legal analysts across the nation.  Stopping someone based on confirmed suspicious behavior is one thing, but using lethal force on unarmed individuals is definitely “unreasonable.”

What’s even more deplorable is the convoluted set of loop holes that we call the justice system, and what happens when a police officer stands trial for criminal charges, such as in the Brown and Garner cases.  According to an article published on Slate.com, only 1 in 3 police officers charged with criminal conduct are actually convicted.  One logical explanation for this is the relationship between police and prosecutors, and the lack of motivation that exists to pursue an indictment in cases involving police killings.  This has created a plush system of apathy, steeped in political and social bias for most law enforcement officers, that has given rise to a type of shield for the shield.  The message that it sends to our communities is sickening and inflammatory to say the least.

The media has contributed to this social inflammation, by inundating our senses with information that is not always pertinent to the truth of what actually took place.  Instead of just focusing on the fact that these men of color were 1) unarmed and 2) clearly surrendering before the time of death, they bring into magnification the character flaws of each victim in an effort to dilute and justify the heinousness of the acts.

The fact is, there are alternatives to illegal choke holds and kill shots to the head that will effectively immobilize an assailant for the sake of situational assessment.  The deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, coupled with the Supreme Court decisions to not indict, testify to the fact that cops are still permitted to take lives at will in the name of “reasonable suspicion.”  The inconvenient truth is these two African-American lives never posed a viable threat, when they were extinguished under the guise of the shield.

In light of these recent grand jury decisions, one clear message has been declared and proven:

The American justice system is not blind at all.  It is indeed a dubiously flawed institution, holding in one hand a protective shield, and in the other a fatal sword.

 

Works cited: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.  Michelle Alexander.  The New Press, New York, NY, 2012.


 

As always, thank you for visiting Wisdom’s Quill.  See you soon.

Keep Learning ♦ Keep Loving ♦ Keep Living

Editor: Jaime Evans

BE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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11 thoughts on “Shielding the Shield: Cops or Criminals

  1. Sad, but so true.. There is actually a system behind the system.. If you catch what I am saying.. Its almost as if history is repeating itself, ie Jim Crowe Laws and Black Codes.. History is duplicating/manifesting itself in a different way but with the same outcome.. Prayer is needed…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree 100%, Sapphina. It does closely resemble the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s & 1960’s. In fact, I believe this is the beginning of our very own version of that same Movement. In my opinion, Jim Crow never really died. I’m afraid we are looking at the face of the new and improved version of Jim Crow (Jim Crow 2.0). Prayer should definitely be on everyone’s agenda to obtain wisdom and guidance during these times of unrest. Thank you for stopping by. I always enjoy your insight.

      BE

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  2. When I look at all the HATE replies that are everywhere regarding what is going on – what I just read applies to a lot more people than the media will admit. America has more heart than being portrayed – yet the media would have us believe otherwise. People can or can not believe that and I quote -………. “Lately, however, it seems to provide sanctuary for hardened racists and trigger-happy “good ole boys,” all grown up”………… I have MUCH respect for people who join and do right within the law – but I am feed up with the blindness that applies to people of color who everyday have to tolerate the lie that the biased entitlement of the wrong that officers of the law do. There is so much work to do to repair on both sides- mind you I’m not holding defiant criminal unaccountable but they do not have to have a damn color for the sake of someone pointing a finger. A thug is a thug\ – but wrong is wrong.

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    • Hey, Aunt Martha. I agree that wrong is wrong, and criminals should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. As with anything else there are exceptions to the rules, and there are some truly great cops out there upholding the law. I do have a problem with the system of law that serves as an asylum for the cop, without providing the same for its citizens. Thanks for stopping by and dropping wisdom.
      BE

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  3. It’s distressing knowing that cops can just shoot to kill (murder) black men (and recently a 12 year old boy, hope this cop gets indicted) and people act like it’s okay. So many commented on the fact that Michael was stealing cigars and Eric was selling cigarettes but they don’t see that the police didn’t have to kill either one of these men. There were so many other options, but it’s as if black lives are not significant. There’s always been racism and always will be, but since Barack Obama became president, it’s gotten worse. I guess the folks who hate the fact that the U.S. has a black president, they feel that they can get us back in other ways. We can’t be vigilantes, because that’s not the right thing to do, but I’m positive that if black cops started killing unarmed white men/boys, then a new precedent would be set. Those law dogs would be coming up with all kinds of reasons why you COULDN’T shoot unarmed people, but because it’s primarily happening to blacks men, it’s being permitted. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and the day of reckoning is coming!!

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    • Sharon,

      I’ve been expecting you…LOL. Glad to hear from you. You always have amazing points of view. It would be an interesting experiment to see how the laws would change (or at least be enforced) if the tables were turned. I’m sure white people are killed by cops, but I’d be willing to bet the circumstances surrounding the killing would be different. Now, I’m curious. Thanks for stopping by.

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    • Hey, Kendra. Thanks for stopping by. It is sad indeed. The worst part of it all is that the remedy has been very inconspicuous thus far. It’s tough to imagine that we may not see progress as quickly as we like in our generation. However, we must keep hoping. Love you much!!!
      BE

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  4. These events were tragic. Tragic in the stupidity and waste of it all for the families and communities involved. What I wonder about is who profited from these events. Why were these stories the media’s focus and not hundreds of others? Why did Sharpton descend then and there as though he gave a crap? He sure got quiet fairly quickly. Where is he now? Now I’m not mad at Al. He is just making his living. Wish he would read the “Letters from a Birmingham Jail” though.

    Those were written by a man who gave his living and life fighting injustice. Not like Al who makes his living off of it (in my opinion). Reverend King, I believe, understood that there was a game, behind the game, behind the game, and that there were those who profited by keeping the masses divided, afraid, asleep, dependent, and looking to Caesar for sustenance and protection. That is why he was killed. Like all true prophets his message triangulated the Good News, Politics, and Money. The Good News that the Creator owns the world and that our rights are gifts of grace as his creations, not bestowed by some earthly power to whom we owe our allegiance. His role model was primarily Jesus who spoke truth to power which sought to keep the masses asleep and enslaved. He brought the Creator’s message to the poor and blind and captive and did not seek to incite an armed rebellion but rather sought to free the soul. “Awake” he said, the Kingdom is here among you” (already). Which is profoundly more threatening to Caesar who needs force or fear or dependency to retain power. This is true, I believe, throughout the ages no matter what the current labels are for political power. It is not about whatever label is in vogue but position and function. Slaves in Europe some time back were called serfs and the owners were barons and lords. Many of my people were sharecroppers. There are differences but the function was the same. Serving the owners, the Masters, Caesar.

    White trash, N-word, Redskins, even the word Christian at one time, were labels used to designate a class of people that it was OK to kill and take their stuff and use for Caesar’s purposes. Power can’t do that to people unless they have been brainwashed to believe that about themselves. I mean for all their whining the Hebrews really did not want to be free. After three days in the desert they got mad a Moses cause it was hot. They wanted to go back into their dependency on Pharaoh because he gave them an identity and onions and fish to eat.

    They had been watching Jesus for a while but there were hundreds of would be Messiahs running around mad at the power structures. But it seems to me that when he brought it all together and beat the bankers asses in the Temple he shook the foundations of the “World’s” system. We have gone from exchanging real goods and services to pieces of metal to pieces of paper to now 1’s and 0″s recorded on a magnetic device. Money has always been an idea, an illusion manipulated by Caesar and his handlers to control and manipulate the masses. How is it Caesar’s business and right to tax the free exchange between free people under God? It is that Caesar believes that he is god. Jesus paid his taxes by getting his boys to catch a fish with gold in its mouth. I’m looking for one of those myself. My question about the guy who was killed in NY was not whether he was white or black but why the hell is its the governments business that he was selling cigarets? He broke a law somebody wrote that made his actions “illegal.” It was not necessarily immoral. But he was not paying Caesar his tax on that behavior. The Temple banks were in effect taxing the people’s access to worship and Jesus kicked their ass. Then they killed him. Our churches have voluntarily surrendered their voice to Caesar and sold much of their real power over a tax issue. The deal is as long as the Church is in line with the government then the government won’t tax them. But if they step out of line then Caesar will take their stuff by force. I hear a great deal about gay marriage and the Church arguing with Caesar about his dictates. I think that is also a false dialectic and distraction. I think the real question is how in the hell did it get to be the government’s business to regulate marriage in the first place. It is because to the government it is a business deal, a joining of corporations. In divorce one does not go to church any longer but to court who divides assets.

    I think much of the media efforts are to keep us distracted and divided, even at war over questions and issues that even if resolved would make little difference in terms of the real power structure. The power would just come up with a new label and put a new people in the roles they need to keep the system going. Frankly I think that is part of why they are opening the way for a new population from Mexico and South America to come here. That age old role will be filled by somebody. Power does not care what color their humans are as long as they can be brainwashed and manipulated to do what they are told. The red-blue, Republican -Democrat, Coke – Pepsi thing just goes round and around. It is easier now for Caesar to control people and much more cost effective. The main tool, I think is the prison of the mind, What was thought of as magic is now referred to as advertising, marketing, culture. Brainwashing is much cheaper than having to fight people all the time. People are divided into their neat little groups and have over little groups that can be the focus of their problems, Every morning they download the programming of the day and are told what to think and who to blame their problems on. Very efficient system. Keeps all of Caesar’s cattle distracted from the real issues and doing his bidding.

    What makes the Powers shake is people stepping out of the roles assigned to them and looking to the Creator to define them. Shattering the hall of mirrors and seeing who the real enemy is. Understanding that Dr. Kings dream had nothing to do with color but character and righteousness. You and I could probably agree that there are some very stupid white people and that there are also some very stupid black and every shade in between folks. Can’t fix stupid. I am not talking about those folks.

    I am glad to have met you. I hope I have not overstepped any bounds here. I did not intend you write an essay and take up so much space with my scribbling. It just kept going and in fact I just stopped because I am a guest here, by your leave. If I have intruded or offended I sincerely apologize for that was not my intent. Most of my adult life has been spent in work with inner city and rural white and black folks who are trapped, blinded, and held captive. Their captivity is not physical but mental and spiritual. And they pass it down through the generations. Though they no longer use the word they believe they are slaves and that belief is their prison. May you and yours be blessed abundantly and may the work of your hands prosper in every way. Peace – One crazy white boy.

    Be Groovy.

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