No More: Stop Answering Violence With Violence
More sad news
I woke this morning to learn that 11 cops were shot in Dallas while they were trying to do their jobs.
11 police officers, all trying to keep the public safe.
Five of those were shot fatally.
It's believed the shootings were the work of at the very least a pair of snipers during a protest. The protest was about police violence in the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The Toronto Star reported that it seemed as though the snipers were set up to ambush.
What the hell?
I don't know much about the shootings of Castile and Sterling, as I haven't read the reports or seen the videos that apparently are making the rounds on the media. In Castile's case, I do know that shots were apparently fired while he was in a vehicle with his little girl and his girlfriend.
I know that both men were African Americans.
I also know that not every cop on the planet is hardwired for truth and justice. Some are really not nice people, and there are some who are indeed racist. Notice the key word there: some.
I do know, though, that responding to such senseless acts by gunning down police officers and putting the public at large at risk is not going to help whatever message the protesters are trying to get out there.
Another life lost...but should it be "eye for an eye?"
All police shouldn't pay for the crimes of a few
Remember when we were in elementary or high school, and our parents said not to hang around with certain kids because they weren't the nicest? And we wanted to hang with those people even more, just because our parents said we shouldn't? Their concern was always that if we were hanging out with kids who weren't really nice, we would eventually be looked at the same way.
If we look at incidents such as the ones involving Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and determine that all police officers are the same, then we are also committing a crime. The coroner ruled in Castile's case that his shooting by a cop was indeed a homicide, according to Wikipedia, and the police officer involved in that shooting will doubtless be brought to justice. It is much the same situation for Sterling, whose death was also ruled a homicide.
The problem is, in today's world, everything is so instantaneous, ranging from how quickly we get our morning coffee to how soon we get news notifications. We want justice to be served just as quickly, and it's not that easy. There are a lot of departments at play in these two situations, and bureaucracies have their own processes. We may not like them, but they have them, and they are almost always slow. That can lead very easily to a desire to take matters into our own hands.
But we can't.
It would be all too easy to look at the officers involved in these two separate events and label all police officers as shady and demand that we take them down in the same way Castile and Sterling seem to have been taken down.
Police officers have a job to do, just like the rest of us. I'm sure there are days where they are struggling with what they need to do daily, just as we do in our own respective lines of work, but we still have to obey the law.
There are police officers who are good and smart and responsible, and even in the cases of Castile and Sterling, it is quite probable that the officers involved came out of their training ready to take on the world. The police officers involved may have been eager to do what good they could, and perhaps they wanted to make a positive difference in their worlds. It is very possible that both shootings were the result of incredibly poor judgment and perhaps even prior emotional baggage that each of the cops may have gone into the situations with.
It's easy to forget that police officers are human, just like the rest of us. They are prone to prejudice and racism and sexism, even though society holds them to a higher standard.
I'm not trying to dismiss the horrific shootings of Castile and Sterling as mistakes committed by two officers. Far from it. What I am trying to do is remind everyone that much as it would be easy to completely vilify all police officers, we can't. It wouldn't be right, and it's certainly not fair.
Yet that appears to be what happened in Dallas.
Police have a job to do, with incredible pressure
I'm not justifying what happened in the Castile and Sterling cases. Those are appalling, horrifying cases in which the police appear to have let racism or other issues take hold rather than a sense of calm.
I've seen too many cases in the news, however, about instances where cops have been shot simply because of the job they do. Shootings of members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Mayerthorpe, Alberta, stunned Canada in March 2005, as did shootings of that same police force in Moncton, New Brunswick two years ago. The shootings in Dallas July 7 are just another instance of the belief that all cops are bad and must pay for the crimes of a few, and it was taken to deadly extremes.
In the cases of both Mayerthorpe and New Brunswick, the cops who attended those scenes were not looking for a fight. Particularly in the Mayerthorpe case, the four RCMP officers that were killed merely wanted to take James Roszko into custody. He instead opened fire on them, ambushing them and killing them. After being wounded by another officer, Roszko was found dead by his own hand.
There are so many cases of police officers going into situations where others are trying to escape. That's what they do - they slay the lions that so many of us are afraid or unable to. Are there "bad cops" out there? Absolutely. Do they deserve to be gunned down? No.
Do all cops need to be treated as though they are criminals who should be shot? Absolutely NOT.
It breaks my heart that Castile and Sterling died in the prime of their lives. Their families will spend the rest of their lives trying to recover from this disaster.
There are 11 police officers and their families who will also be recovering from the terrible tragedy of having their loved ones go out to do their jobs and not make it back safely, if at all. There are 11 cop families who will be asking "why?" for the rest of their lives, and they paid the ultimate price because of the human failings of a select few.
Philando Castile and Alton Sterling
- Philando Castile and Alton Sterling - latest US police shooting black victims - BBC News
Who are Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the latest black victims of fatal police shootings in the US?
Chief said three people are in custody, and police were working to apprehend a fourth person.