This post is in response to Mackenzie’s Change.Org post about ending police brutality. I recently read an article in the New York Times about a federal civil rights investigation of the Cleveland Police department. The Justice Department recently announced that there has been an “unreasonable and unnecessary use of force” by the city’s police department. The findings of the investigation were consistent with the injustices pointed out by (mainly) the black community in protests and calls to action these past few weeks. The abuses extend to how firearms, tasers, chemical sprays and physical force are used on the job. A prime example is the shooting of Tamir Rice.
I know we have talked about Tamir Rice before, but just to reiterate, Tamir was a twelve-year-old boy who was murdered by a (or one could argue two) police officer in Cleveland. Rice was in a local park playing with a toy gun when someone called the police on him. The caller reported that someone who was “probably a juvenile” was waving a gun that was “probably fake.” Two officers, Loehmann and Garmback, arrived at the scene and within two seconds 12-year-old Tamir was lying on the ground bleeding out. The officers supposedly told Tamir to put his hands in the air by yelling to him out of a crack in the passenger window but Tamir instead appeared to reach for his waistband. Loehmann got out of the car and opened fire on the child within two seconds. I think it’s extremely important to note that neither officer performed any life-saving measures on Tamir after he was shot. In other words, Loehmann and Garmback watched as a sixth-grader bled out in front of them. (Let that sink in for a second.)
Back to the DOJ’s investigation. The timing of the conclusion of this case was either lucky or very intentional. What better time to release a report addressing the prevalence of police brutality than during the height of nation-wide civil rights demonstrations following the Garner and Brown verdicts. Other officials in Los Angeles and South Carolina have also ruled this week against cops who committed acts of police brutality. Even higher up on the ladder President Obama met with civil rights leaders and law enforcement officials to address the”simmering distrust that exists between too many police departments and too many communities of color.” No shit, Sherlock. (I think some other acceptable ways to phrase it are racial oppression…systemic racism…discriminate policing…but that diplomatic bullshit works too, Obama.)
I hope that increased attention to these issues from the Department of Justice, White House and local governments will be effective. But, as it is said over and over again, how many more innocent black men need to be killed at the hands of white cops before we see big changes?