Columbus, OH (TFC) – It seems more and more these days we see protests and marches popping up across the United States. A large number of these are due to the increasing deaths to civilians at the hands of the police. In 2015 alone we are well over 1600. These senseless killings have taken the lives of men, women, children, the elderly, the handicapped, the mentally unstable, and everything in between. However, young black men appear to be a primary target.
Many groups in the activist communities have taken police brutality as their primary cause. With the internet allowing video after video after story to hit our newsfeeds everyday it has become something very hard to ignore. These groups are dedicating extensive amounts of time and effort compiling and sharing information. They are contacting police departments, state representatives, and anyone who will listen. The problem is, not too many people with the ability to make any changes to the failing system which allows this are listening. So what happens when people are dying in our streets and there is no one held accountable? When the voices and cries of the people fall on deaf ears? In the words of Martin Luther King, “A riot is the language of the unheard”. While it’s unusual for most of these protests to turn into actual riots, the sentiment still stands. The people take to the streets. They disrupt business and traffic. They gather in large numbers with signs and banners and take it to the next level. And guess what, it works. The media shows up, the departments then have to answer to people.
Of all the groups using this “take to the streets tactic,” Black Lives Matter has seemed to get the most attention. The killings by police have affected the black community on a larger scale. Is it due to a large number of officers being racist? The reason for the rise in police brutality is still up for debate, but the fact is it’s happening in the black community far more than any other. Now regardless if you agree with the name Black Lives Matter or the stance they have taken by seemingly only speaking and standing for their own kind, they are clearly acting and not ignoring the problem.
The public is not used to seeing people in their streets. They are not used to having roads blocked off by people with signs and bullhorns. And generally speaking they are not happy about it. There are many reasons for this in my opinion. First, police murdering civilians has not affected them personally yet. They think as long as you obey the law this kind of thing will never happen. Sadly the “just obey the law and you have nothing to worry about” is not a safety net we can count on any longer. Just ask Mr. John Wrana, a 95 year old WWII veteran who was shocked with a stun gun and shot with beanbag rounds from a shotgun at close range in the nursing home he was residing in. Unfortunately, you cannot ask him. Our veteran died due to blunt force trauma from the beanbag rounds. The officer was simply charged with 1 count of reckless conduct in this case. I could go on with other senseless deaths. Children as young as 4, preschool teachers, moms calling for help with mentally ill children, family pets, people in wheel chairs; it is closer to home than they think. They just don’t know it, yet. Or as I believe, it’s too hard for them to admit the police who we are taught to trust are becoming enemies and killers to the very people they are sworn to protect. They cannot fathom this because in their mind there is no alternative. I mean what do you do if you can no longer call the police? So they ignore the problem and keep hoping these are all just isolated incidents, or they justify them by blaming the victims.
The newest trend in opposing the protesters has brought me to write this piece. Police also get killed by civilians. White people get killed by black people. When this happens the first things I hear are “oh, well where are Black Lives Matter or other protesters?” “Why are they not shutting down the streets for this death?” “Do you know how many blacks kill other blacks, why aren’t they protesting that?” It almost sounds like they feel as if the police and other victims of murder need protests for their deaths too. But that is the furthest thing from their minds; they simply lack the courage to say what they really mean.
If these people wanted the city to burn because an officer was killed at the hands of some street “thug,” then they would burn it down. If they felt the elderly white woman killed by a gang was also worthy of a protest then they would gather their friends and “Shut It Down.” The truth is, they do not feel that the officer’s life or the elderly women’s life is valuable enough to do any of those things. They accept the murder, not let it affect their day and move on. What their “thought provoking” statements are really saying is we don’t like that protesters actually take life more seriously than we do. We do not like that they make us look bad by having the courage to stand up against injustice and evil. You see, those people in the streets know what their stand could mean for them. They know what the consequences of their actions could be, but they go anyway. It is worth arrest, assault, tear gas, beanbag shots, stun guns, and whatever other force may be used against them to stand for life. The average American lacks the motivation, bravery and spine to do these things. So to separate themselves, they vilify the victims and those who speak on their behalf. Now they face no moral responsibility. They have found their way to sleep at night. However, with the current trend in these murders, they are not in the clear. It is coming to a neighborhood near them. Once they too become a victim, and maybe only then, will they see what lies in the hearts of those they condemn in the streets.