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What Are The Ramifications Of The Recent Events Involving Persons Of Color And Law Enforcement?

Updated on July 23, 2015

Perhaps it is just me, but doesn't it feel like every time we watch the news we almost expect to see another news story involving an innocent black person being unfairly treated by a white law enforcement officer? About how a misunderstanding led to imprisonment, even death? About how this person did nothing wrong, or at least something so minor as to be far overshadowed by the reaction from the officials? That the reaction by the officer was far more violent or heavy handed than what it should have been when compared to the event at the time, or perhaps in retrospect?

How did this woman...
How did this woman... | Source
This woman with a smile like this...
This woman with a smile like this... | Source
Come to be this woman?
Come to be this woman? | Source

Sandra Bland

The most recent of these stories is of Sandra Bland. Ms. Bland was arrested during a traffic stop and subsequently committed suicide while in jail. The stop was a legal stop, as she did not use her turn indicator while turning from a parking lot (incidentally, running a stop sign as she did) onto a city street and failed to use one again when crossing from the inside lane to the outside lane after moving through an intersection. While on the outside arresting someone for such an apparently petty offense may seem extreme, we need to look deeper into what prompted the arrest. What occurred from there is a trail of breadcrumbs we may never be able to fully understand.

What I do know is this: there is a wave of unrest, of anxiety, of hatred against the body of people who are directed to protect and serve. Right or wrong, this wave is growing. At some point, it will crest and we all need to be out of the way of it when it does.

So: what is the nubbin nitty gritty of this case? Well, from what I can decipher it appears as though Ms. Bland did in fact break a law: she failed to indicate she was changing lanes. Like it or not, that is a law in every location I have ever lived or driven. I read in one comment that she was not breaking a law, therefore she was not to be arrested.

Not breaking a law? Well, technically yes she did. She chose to not utilize the safety equipment which is on every single vehicle sold in the United States today. So while it may seem to be a "nothing" law, the fact remains it is still a law. We The People do not have the right to pick and choose which laws we follow and which laws we ignore. Laws are in place, policemen are there to enforce them.

That being said, I have to take issue with the stop once the policeman begins to lose his cool. In my opinion, he is well within his duty as prescribed by law to stop her for an illegal act, to ask for and check her driver's license (which I never did notice him having. I did hear him ask for it but I did not hear him state at any time he had it.) and to give her a ticket for her intentional choice to not signal. So, this far she is in the wrong and he is in the right.

She continued to make her unhappiness at being stopped apparent to the officer, speaking to him in less than polite tones. Personally, on the few times I have been pulled over in my life I speak to the officer with complete politeness and always use "Yes, Sir" to him. Every single time. I understand that I have been pulled over for a reason and that reason is my fault. I broke a law. But here, she evidently feels she has been pulled over for a less than authentic reason, expressing her disbelief at being pulled over for not using her indicator. I am sorry, but that is a legitimate reason, like it or not. If she had just gone with it, she would have driven away in a few moments with a ticket at worst or a warning in the least. Instead, she felt she had to respond to the officer in an argumentative tone. So, she has instigated the stop and escalated the situation with her attitude towards the officer.

But when he instructs her to put out the cigarette, I personally feel he overstepped his boundaries. The viewer will detect a change in his attitude leading up to this instruction. From there, all hell breaks loose. He becomes moderately, then quite aggressive, even attempting to physically remove her from the car. He then pulls his Taser, points it at her in very close proximity and tells her "I will light you up!".

At this point, to me, he has gone too far. He has lost all control and made it a personal situation. He feels disrespected (and he was) and for whatever reason acts in a manner which leads to the end result of her arrest. I do not like cigarettes at all, yet I understand that a person has the right to smoke in their car if they choose to do so. He intentionally escalated the situation (again, in my opinion) by demanding she put out the cigarette. Perhaps he was trying to show her who was boss; perhaps he knew by her attitude she would refuse and give him the reason to arrest her, thus making a far bigger thing out of what should have been a five or ten minute stop. If he truly was concerned for his well being he would have backed away, called for assistance and waited to make sure he had others there to take care of this woman. Yes, she was mouthy but not out of control. Yes, she did refuse to get out of the car but his demand to exit because she refused to put out her cigarette? Really?

Both parties lost control and both parties acted in an improper manner. But who was wrong first? That is the crux of the situation, and should be the fault for everything which took place from that moment on, up to and including her tragic death.

So, who was at fault first? Sad as it may be to say, I have to say that I believe the woman, Ms. Bland, threw the first jab. She was a not too nice person to the officer, she was not compliant or sorry for being stopped. To her, the stop was unwarranted, something that should have been overlooked. Just because she failed to indicate a lane change is no reason to be pulled over. Is it?

Yes, it is. Minor though that may be on the scales of justice in the world today it is a law, and a law is a law. Period. We do not get to choose what to enforce and what not to enforce. If you speed five miles over the limit do not be upset if you get pulled over and ticketed. If you do not use your turn indicator to turn left or right at an intersection do not be angry when a police officer pulls you over. If you do not indicate a lane change do not get angry at the officer for doing his/her job. Simple. At least, it should be.

But I also must say that the officer should have reacted in a much different manner. It appears obvious that Ms. Bland was not a dangerous individual; perhaps too mouthy for his tastes but not dangerous. He overreacted by a large margin to a situation he could have simply smiled, had her sign her ticket and move along on her way. Had he done this and remained a professional, he would not be where he is and she would not be dead. And I guarantee you this: he is thinking about that every waking moment. And will be for a long, long time.

But we have this entitled feeling that seems to be growing in America today, where we "ought" to be able to do things which are illegal. So what if I don't use my indicator? So what if I have a couple of beers then drive? So what if I do this, do that: I am entitled.

Who was the instigator in this situation?

See results

And that, my friends, is our greatest problem today. Not that our police force may be using extreme force to the point of physical damage up to and including death, but that a segment of society demands to be treated differently than the majority. And that concerns me.

But what concerns me even more is the fact that a percentage of that segment are being lifted to the level of consciousness that it is. The media plays upon it, fanning the flames in order to sell more papers, sell more advertising time, to draw more and more people into the fight. That, my friends, really concerns me.

A battle line is being drawn, and the media is drawing the line. If news items were reported in a fair and equitable manner, featuring a similar amount of items from across the board I would be, if not okay at least more accepting of it. But they are not. More and more examples of supposed police brutality, of police misbehavior, of police acting in a different manner against one portion of our country: those with a skin color other than white are headlining the news every single day.

If the person is of Hispanic origin, the news stories seem to relate primarily to immigration issues. If the skin is of African American (I do not like that term but will use it in order to be politically correct. I do not like separating Americans into a color based society; that to me is racist in nature.) then the news story is of crime or abuse by one in power such as law enforcement. Rarely if ever is there a news story detailing an African American law breaker being subjected to abuse by an African American police officer. It has to have happened, but where are those stories? It is always a white officer being the abuser.

What follows here is a post detailing a person's (not mine) "facts". Whether these are accurate or not I cannot say. But if they are, they should be a concern to most of America.

"Draw your own conclusions and opinions/comments....
Blacks killed more than 2200 other blacks in 2013.
Blacks killed more than 430 whites in 2013.
Whites killed less than 150 blacks in 2013.
Cops killed less than 130 black people in 2013 and Cops killed more than 350 white people in 2013.
The issues with blacks coming into contact with cops more often comes from the FACT that blacks commit more than 51% of all murders in the USA and more than 40% of all violent crimes in the USA.
Yet they make up less than 20% of the population.
When such a small percentage of the population is responsible for so much of the crime it is obvious that they would have issues with the cops based simply on the statistics/ratios presented."

Again, if there are crimes out there which are other than white cops on black criminals, why are they not reported in the same manner as those which are thrust in our face daily? Unless it is a terroristic attack of some kind, or a mass shooting we never hear of the singular incidents which are similar in nature to the one involving Ms. Brown with the roles reversed.

The media, in which the Democrats outnumber the Republicans, put out what they feel is the right story to tell. And as the vast amount of African American registered voters vote Democratic, well you can tell which way the wind blows. Don't believe this? Check out the links below.

So, we have a Democratic party which has virtually the entire African American vote which in turn is controlling a primarily Democratic journalism (media) group. Sounds like the deck is stacked, doesn't it?

Another case which held the attention of the country in the not too distant past is that of Michael Brown. Brown was a 6'4" 292 pound 18 year old man. A young man to be sure, but anyone that size could easily be confused as being a full grown man by someone who does not know him. He was shot and killed by a police officer in August of 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. He was unarmed.

Brown had just robbed a store for some cigars and was walking away from the scene of the crime. Yes, stealing is a crime for those of you who do not believe he was guilty of anything other than the color of his skin. Radio calls went out and Officer Wilson located Brown and his accomplice. Evidently, at this first contact he did not recognize Brown as being the suspect. He instructed them to move out of the street, to the sidewalk and pulled away. What might have been had Brown followed instructions will never be known. He did not, Wilson backed up and a struggle ensued. Did he back up because he now recognized Brown as a suspect? Or because Brown refused to follow his direction? Two shots of the officer's handgun took place inside the vehicle. Brown ran off, then ran back. Evidence at the scene indicates that Wilson was firing at Brown and moving backwards, away from him. Brown advanced on Wilson until he fell to the ground, dead. There were two shots to his head.

None were in his back as reported by the media.

I do not recall seeing a single report on the news stating this fact. I found it online while researching this article. Why? After all that occurred, all of the hard feelings, the riots, the crime which occurred over this man's death, why did they not make this known? If they did, I must have missed it. But I did not miss the reports of him reportedly being shot in the back, that he was a misunderstood child, who had gotten his GED and was going to attend a local college. That he was innocent of anything except being black.

But the fact that he was never shot in the back as they had relayed time and again were never reported. At least, not in the manner the incorrect facts were.

Why do we have these instances thrust in our faces? Why are these situations brought on by those who refuse to follow the law seem to be thought of as not being justified? They are just poor misunderstood boys, they did not mean any harm. Those bully police officers just arrested them for no reason. They shot them for no reason.

Wrong. They chose to act in a manner which put them in direct confrontation with those who we have chosen to enforce the laws We The People have put in place to protect us, to create a civilization we can live in; a society free from fear, from those who mean us harm. At least, that's what I thought. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I am looking at this whole situation from a skewed perspective. Maybe Mankind wasn't meant to live in harmony with one another. Maybe we should have a separation between those who want this and those who don't. Oh wait, we do: it's called Prison.

Incidentally, I just attended a seminar which was concerning safety. The instructor stood in front of us and asked us to define what safety meant. Do you know? Can you define what it means to be safe?

Safety = The state of being safe; freedom from the occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss.

How many of us truly feel safe in our world today? And why? Is it because of an overly empowered law enforcement group? Is it our political climate and leaders? Terrorists who are bent on our utter destruction? Or is it due to an unruly group of individuals who bend and break the law to suit their needs or desires, then claim they are being beset upon when they are instructed to cease their behavior? The robbers, thieves, murderers, rapists and drug dealers who walk among us daring us to say something against them?

Lest you think I am saying that African Americans are a problem in our society, I am most definitely not. I have had multiple friends which are black. I have worked alongside many blacks, went to school with, played ball with and against, even been one of only two whites in one of my early schools. Heck, my oldest friend is black! Over fifty years now we have known one another and we still laugh and smile, hug and shake hands when we see one another.

But it seems as though someone wants this portion of America in the limelight. I have known of whites, hispanics, and asians who behave in a manner at least as bad as some blacks; yet that is never brought up. I have known of acts which are every bit as heinous as anything committed by blacks to have been performed by other races, but yet they never respond with the reaction that blacks seem to do. I don't see a moonlight vigil of whites on the news when a white man is killed by a black man. I don't see a riot made up of predominantly white people when a black officer kills an unarmed white man. I don't see unending reports on the TV saying a white woman was killed during a home invasion by a black man.

Why? Well, to me it is because someone has an agenda. Someone desires to cause unrest, to fan the flames of discord, to make money off of a horrible situation. Am I wrong? You tell me.

What I know, what I believe is that America is coming apart at the seams. We The People have become We The African Americans, We The Hispanic Americans, We The Asian American, We The White Americans. We The (Fill In The Blank) Americans.

We are separating ourselves into ever smaller groups, held apart by a media which has its own agenda, reporting what they choose to put before us. And we are buying it hook, line and sinker. We have politicians who are playing upon our emotions in order to gain the lifestyle they desire. We have self styled leaders who prey upon fear and distrust to further their own means. Who is looking out for the good of the country? Who is trying to heal the people? Not tear them apart, heal them into one.

It sure as hell isn't the politicians, leaders, or media.

So, just what are the ramifications of this recent outburst of racially dividing news coverage of events? To me, it feels as though we will continue to divide ourselves, cry foul against some other group of people until we are so small minded we fall. Perhaps to another country, perhaps to a leader who finds a way to lift up the group he "leads" and turns our Democratic Nation into something else: a regime? A group of warlord led states? Maybe multiple "nations" where one mighty one once stood? Who can say?

We will continue to experience unrest, distrust, hatred, and rioting. There will be a continued divide which grows ever deeper and wider as the media continues to manipulate us, to use us to further their means. What are those means? Greed. Money. Power. Control. They will utilize our own bigotry, racism, and perceptions against us and we will continue to allow them to. And they will do it while saying they are simply providing us with the information; it is our choice how we view it, utilize it, act upon it. Freedom of the press, they will say. And, to a point they will be right. But where they will be wrong is when they say they are doing it without a purpose, without an agenda, without prejudice. For if they say that, they will be lying.

But I will guarantee you this: some time, some way, America will lose its independence and become less that it has been, even less than it currently is. We cannot continue to allow a select few to dictate our direction. We must get more involved, we must get more motivated, we must get on one path. White, black, whatever. Our skin color cannot be allowed to separate us from one another. Neither can our skin color blind us to the fact that within our own race there are those who do not have our best interest at heart. We must call them out, and remove them from their power.

I leave you with this thought: if we continue to fight one another we all lose.

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    • profile image

      Big E 2 years ago

      It would really help if the police could go undercover as black.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Cheyenne, thank you for your well thought out and written comments. And I agree with every single one you listed here. The bottom line is that she created the stop by failing to stop at a stop sign entering the road, failing to use her turn signal when pulling out onto the road, failing to use it once again when pulling to the right, failing to have a better disposition when speaking with the officer. Had she done these simple little things, she would be alive today. Yet, she sadly is dead.

      I too wonder if she had other issues going on at the time of the stop, and later in the jail cell. Perhaps a medical issue, or mental health issue we are unaware of? Whatever it was, it led to her tragic death, and to that officer having to live with the fact that this woman is dead and whether directly or indirectly he was a part of it. I feel horrible for both families. Take care Cheyenne; have a wonderful weekend.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Mike, this is a well-written piece on division, injustice and inequality. I agree with what you say about the government and media.

      As far as Ms. Bland and her failure to signal debacle, these are my thoughts:

      1. She must have had 'attitude' written all over her face or the cop wouldn't have asked her (on two separate occasions) what was wrong.

      2. Had the officer accepted her response and declaration that she was pissed because she was pulled over when "trying to get out of his way", there's a chance the simple traffic violation wouldn't have escalated.

      3. Ms. Bland's language and name-calling was uncalled for and added fuel to the fire.

      4. The cop had no right to ask her to put her cigarette out. Nor did he have the right to ask her to step out of the car when she refused.

      5. Ms. Bland's assault on an office put the nail in her coffin regardless of whether or not the cop was within his rights.

      6. Initially the cop was cordial. Ms. Bland should have just ridden with it and accepted the fact that she was in the wrong by not using her turn signal. (At least use it when directly in front of a cop!) She would have gotten off with a warning and been on her merry way.

      7. I refuse to accept that the cop was responsible for her death - whether directly or indirectly. She, in my opinion, had serious issues beyond anger. Who in their right mind commits suicide over going to jail for a traffic violation? Granted, she brought additional - and more serious - charges against herself due to irrational behavior, but that's no cause to commit suicide. Something else was going on with her. In fact, that's apparent from the outset. Most of us are polite and cooperative when pulled over for a minor infraction. She created a mountain out of a mole hill.

      It's unfortunate a life was lost over this incident, but I don't think it's the cop's fault.

      One thing I will say for Ms. Bland. She never called the race card - just the gender card.

      Powerful piece, my friend.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Jim and Mike, thank you gentlemen. Jim, I will try and find that link, it sounds like that would be right up my alley. I wish I knew what drove people to act as they do.

      Mike, my wife gets after me when I forget to indicate my turning onto my street. It is only one block long but right is right. The police department has come under such fire that I worry what will happen when they say enough is enough and just walk away. If our courts do not support them, and our politicians get off their backs we might find out. And you are right: Obama had a chance to unite the country but in truth I don't think he ever got the chance and if he had, his policies would further divide us anyway. He is for the poor and deprived and to hell with the rest of us.

      Thank you again Gentlemen. I really struggled with this one, re-reading and re-working it several times until I felt it was as good as I would get it and as honest as I could make it. Take care my friends.

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 2 years ago

      Excellent hub as always.

      I live in a retirement area where many of the residents are quite elderly. I often have to wonder if the cars they drive really came with turn signals because they don't use them.

      I can't even imagine what life will be like when nobody wants to be a police officer anymore. I can't say as I would blame any of them for choosing a new career.

      This administration seems to be doing all they can to further divide this country racially. One would think that the first black president of the US would have directed his efforts toward uniting, not dividing. But that is not the way it is working.

      I'm just glad I lived in the best times this country had to offer, times we will most likely never see again.

      Outstanding job of writing my friend.

    • FitnezzJim profile image

      FitnezzJim 2 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia

      Well written and bravely done.

      If you get a chance, look up and listen to the voice recordings of Police exchanges just prior to and after the Brown shooting. My recall is that the big concern at the time was some young kid beating a drum too loud on a street corner. And somehow, the store robbery and shooting were going on near that same time. Unfortunately, I can not find the link.

      I always wonder what it is that gets folks into the state of mind that allows such events to happen.

    • Mr Archer profile image
      Author

      Mr Archer 2 years ago from Missouri

      Thank you Sir.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Heavy stuff. Strong message.