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Ferguson and Police Violence

Updated on August 16, 2015

Christopher Dorner's victims

These are the people Christopher Dorner killed in his rampage against police.
These are the people Christopher Dorner killed in his rampage against police.

Ferguson Shooting

Violence Against Police Solves Nothing

Why Would Anyone Advocate Violence Against Police?

In February 2013 there was a manhunt under way for ex LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. Early on it was revealed that what had seemed like a random murder of an engaged couple was an act of revenge by Christopher Dorner. The woman that was killed was the daughter of the defense attorney that failed to prove his innocence of the misconduct for which he was fired for. The woman and her fiancée were killed in retaliation. It was done in cold blood. In the end he murdered two police officers and injured several others. This was all in retaliation for what he believed was wrongful termination.

I was personally infuriated by the fact that someone would feel justified in taking the lives of innocent people because he was fired from his job. A job for which he was still under the probationary period for. What further infuriated me was the number of black people defending his actions. I would talk to friends that were convinced that this whole episode was the fault of the LAPD for firing him unjustly. I was astonished that so many people would believe that there could be an excuse for his monstrous behavior. He killed the child of the person who tried to defend him, and her fiancée who had nothing to do with any of this whatsoever. He went on a rampage opening fire on any police officer he could find. The very people we depend on to protect us. Yet I would hear things from black people like “they just pushed him too far”, or “that’s what they get for treating him that way”.

The Los Angeles Times wrote and excellent five part piece on the events that took place. There was a growing movement online praising Dorner for his actions. For the police who spend their days putting themselves in harm’s way, this had to be a tremendous slap in the face.

The observation in the article of the police reaction was this,

“To the people hunting him, Dorner’s lionization was an outrage. For his first victim, they pointed out, the supposed crusader for racial justice had selected a defenseless young black man and shot him in the back of the head."

“He was a murderer, plain and simple. “For this knucklehead, this cockroach to become an icon....”

On February 16, there was a protest at LAPD headquarters held by a group of people objecting to the way Christopher Dorner was fired. These people were essentially saying that if there were two sides to these events, they were on Christopher Dorner’s side. In a nutshell, they would defend the actions of a cold blooded murder because he was black and because his position was anti police.

On August 13, a man allegedly named “Joe Bart” took police in a car chase that ended with the suspect allegedly attempting to carjack a motorist at gun point. After the police attempted to engage the suspect, the suspect drew his firearm against the police and was gunned down and killed. In the aftermath of this, protestors converged on the area, and there were reports of minor vandalism. Why would people defend this behavior?

On August 11, during the anniversary protests of the Michael Brown shooting someone named Tyrone Harris Jr. was shot and critically wounded. There is video evidence that he opened fire on police, yet there was another rally planned on his behalf the following day. Why wouldn’t his actions be condemned much let condoned by anyone?

There are few things more destructive than a society without police. So why would it seem so many people would take part in antagonizing the people we depend on for our protection. Why would anyone “lionize” a murderer of police officers?

Investigation on Ferguson Police Found Reasons

Due to the unrest in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown, there was an investigation into the activities of the police there. These were some off the findings:

City officials solicit more police citations to boost revenue

In March 2010, the City Finance Director wrote to Chief Jackson: “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year, it will be hard to significantly raise collections next year … Given that we are looking at a substantial sales tax shortfall, it’s not an insignificant issue.” In March 2013, the Finance Director wrote to the City Manager: “Court fees are anticipated to rise about 7.5%. I did ask the Chief if he thought the PD could deliver 10% increase. He indicated they could try.”

Officers would occasionally arrest and/or stop African-Americans with no reason

“From a July 2013 incident in which a police officer came across an African-American man on the way to arrest someone else in an apartment building and ended up cuffing the first man “without reasonable suspicion”: “Ignoring the central fact that they had handcuffed a man and put him in a police car despite having no reason to believe he had done anything wrong, a sergeant vigorously defended FPD’s actions, characterizing the detention as “minimal” and pointing out that the car was air conditioned.

Ferguson officers are using unnecessary force against the mentally ill

“FPD records suggest a tendency to use unnecessary force against vulnerable groups such as people with mental health conditions or cognitive disabilities, and juvenile students … Ferguson is currently in litigation against the estate of a man with mental illness who died in September 2011 after he had an ECW deployed against him three times for allegedly running toward an officer while swinging his fist.”

“In December 2011, officers deployed a canine to bite an unarmed 14-year-old African-American boy who was waiting in an abandoned house for his friends … … The officer peeked into the space and saw the boy, who was 5’5” and 140 pounds, curled up in a ball, hiding. According to the officer, the boy would not show his hands despite being warned that the officer would use the dog. The officer then deployed the dog, which bit the boy’s arm, causing puncture wounds.”

  • “Despite making up 67% of the population, African Americans accounted for 85% of FPD’s traffic stops, 90% of FPD’s citations, and 93% of FPD’s arrests from 2012 to 2014.”
  • “African Americans are 2.07 times more likely to be searched during a vehicular stop but are 26% less likely to have contraband found on them during a search. They are 2.00 times more likely to receive a citation and 2.37 times more likely to be arrested following a vehicular stop.”
  • “African Americans have force used against them at disproportionately high rates, accounting for 88% of all cases from 2010 to August 2014 in which an FPD officer reported using force.”
  • “African Americans account for 95% of Manner of Walking charges; 94% of all Fail to Comply charges; 92% of all Resisting Arrest charges; 92% of all Peace Disturbance charges; and 89% of all Failure to Obey charges.”
  • ”African Americans are 68% less likely than others to have their cases dismissed by the Municipal Judge, and in 2013 African Americans accounted for 92% of cases in which an arrest warrant was issued.”
  • “African Americans account for 96% of known arrests made exclusively because of an outstanding municipal warrant.”

These findings are not anecdotal evidence, these are facts. Ferguson is one of many cities were black people have claimed unfair treatment by police. Even if a black person does not personally have an experience of unfair treatment by police, they likely know someone who has. This will clearly affect your perspective on police. This may cause someone to view police as an entity to fear, an entity, to resent, rather than an entity for protection.

How Do We Address This?

The culture of corruption that has taken hold of the politics of policing need to end. Police officers who are committing or condoning acts of corruption should be fired. Police officers who are found to be targeting people because of the color of their skin should be fired. Police officers who are found to be assaulting innocent people should be fired, charged and jailed. Community oversight committees have got to take responsibility for finding this data on their own. It shouldn’t take an act of Congress to elucidate these findings. Community oversight committees need to demand more transparency. The relationship between police and citizens should not be one of contention but one of cohesion. Recruitment standards of police should be such that tendencies toward, biases, aggression, and dishonesty should be weeded out.

Communities with high crime rates are going to have more contact with police, but that is not the fault of the police. The first thing that must be done to address this problem, is for these communities to create more movements to combat this issue. Movements like “Black Lives Matter” has proven that organized efforts can result in bringing awareness to the issues you choose to highlight. We need a movement to address black on black crime. We need these efforts to focus on cutting the crime rates in these communities so that police are called there less frequently.

Police need to make more of an effort to improve their image in some of these impoverished communities. If more police are seen in classrooms working with children, volunteering to help the hungry, and assisting the needs of the elderly, it would go a long way in changing the perception many people in these communities have of the police.

Lastly, upstanding officers should be rewarded. Currently from my understanding, all officers get the same raises at the end of the year, regardless of performance. Officers who have gone above the call of duty should be rewarded monetarily. Body cameras are a critical part in any conversation on police reforms, but these cameras shouldn’t just be used in a punitive capacity. They should be used to document the work of upstanding officers, and reward them accordingly.

Black Lives Matter?

Communities that are suffering the most from heavy handed police have a valid point in their efforts to protest, but that doesn’t excuse them from taking responsibility for the real issues. Addressing black on black crime is much more complicated than staging a rally against police. Pointing the finger at police is a lot like putting a band aid on a bullet wound. Changing police policy is important and must be addressed by all Americans, but if the goal is to see less violence and death in these communities, protesting police will not assist in reaching that goal. There are church programs, volunteers, tutors, and charities that are taking part in trying to address black on black street violence. They need all the help they can get. If “Black Lives Matters” really means what their slogan states, this is where they should be directing their efforts.

References

http://graphics.latimes.com/christopher-dorner-manhunt/

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-fatal-shooting-oakland-police-20150813-story.html

http://news.yahoo.com/police-man-shot-ferguson-protest-critically-injured-081101020.html

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/11-alarming-findings-ferguson-police-department-report

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