ARTWORK SOURCE: https://www.allriot.com/product/mass-media-propaganda-t-shirt/
The past two days, America has seen two black men shot and killed by law enforcement officers. As expected, these shootings have spread narrative and continued the discussion that racism, and racism only, is to blame. Let’s be clear about something from the very beginning. Both of these cases are still under investigation. The public knows very few details or concrete facts. Although based on people’s posts, outcry from celebrities, and the media outlets I’ve seen, everyone seems to have it all figured out. No one is hesitating blaming the police officers involved, restarting #blacklivesmatter campaigns, and talking about these situations as if they would know exactly what to do given a badge and an opportunity.
Let’s look at what we do know. In the case of Alton Sterling he was illegally carrying a gun (as he was on probation and subsequently has a long rap sheet), and he threatened a homeless man with it. This homeless man felt intimidated enough that he felt the need to call 911. Based on that fact, we can safely say that the responding officers knew (or had strong reason to believe) that Sterling had a gun. The videos being passed around the Internet are both poor quality as well as do not show the entire incident. The officers very obviously get into a physical altercation with Sterling, and it eventually leads to deadly force. At the end of one of the videos, after Sterling is shot, one officer removes a gun from the pocket of Sterling’s shorts. The gun that one or both officers felt he was reaching for. I’ve seen many people defending Sterling, saying that he wasn’t reaching, saying that just because he had a gun doesn’t mean he deserved to get shot. As many of you know by now, I am the daughter of a law enforcement officer of over 20 years. When these situations arise, all I think about is how I would hope my dad would handle these impossible situations. In this case I would hope that if he felt fear for his life, as though someone was trying or going to kill him, that he would neutralize the threat by any means necessary. If he could not physically subdue the person by sheer force or taser gun, deadly force would be necessary. Because at the point where lives are on the line, police officers are trained to protect themselves and the innocent bystanders. In my opinion, the officer who shot and killed Sterling was justified, based on what I currently know. As I said before, this situation is under investigation and the masses should not be spreading false narrative either way. I am only here to share my opinion. The police officers involved potentially saved their own lives, as well as innocent people around at the time of the incident. If Alton Sterling had been white, or if the officers had been black this situation would have been handled no differently, but you and I wouldn’t be seeing it on our Facebook feeds and Twitter timelines. The topic of racism wouldn’t be brought up because that is not what this is about. Police officers made a decision to use deadly force because they felt as though lives were on the line. That is a judgement call that no one who has never been in that situation has any right to speak about. You are not an expert because you strongly feel as though Sterling shouldn’t have been shot. You are not an expert because you feel like this is police brutality, or social injustice, or racism. You do not get to put yourself in that officers’ position and say what you would do differently if you do not wear a badge and you have never been there.
The case of Philando Castile is a tragedy. I will be the first to say it. Right off the bat there seems to be stark contrast between what we know about Sterling and that situation, and Castile and his situation. We know that Castile was a concealed carry permit holder. We know he was legally carrying his firearm, just as many of us do. In the video posted by Castile’s girlfriend we only see the aftermath of the shooting we don’t know what happened before. It is still under investigation. From what I understand, Castile informed the officer who pulled him over that he was permitted and was carrying. I would do the same if I were pulled over while carrying. Since no facts are known and much speculation is swirling about what happened before Castile was shot, I will refrain from commenting on the events that led up to the shooting. In this case, in my opinion, the officer handled this situation incorrectly. He was aware Castile was carrying, there was a baby as well as a woman in the car, and he still fatally shot a man who was allegedly complying. It is not right. I will not deny that. My issue is people blaming racism and demonizing all law enforcement based on the act of one. We do not know why that officer made the decision to use deadly force on Castile. We don’t know what made him feel threatened enough to draw his gun and pull the trigger. We cannot blame the police force as a whole. We have no facts, so to automatically jump to racism and blame his death on the fact that he was black and the officer wasn’t is an injustice in itself.
Police go to work every day to protect and serve, no matter what their skin color is. Police put their lives on the line and leave their families at home to make the streets safer for you and I. Police cannot be grouped into a stereotype of racists and murderers. The cases are both under investigation but to spread the narrative and false rhetoric that this has everything to do with racism and police brutality is ignorant and premature. They have only been made social issues because the men killed were black and the police officers were not. The media will not tell you about the white men that are killed by police for reaching for guns. They will not tell you about the black on black violence that claims more lives than so called “police brutality” ever has. In America we are obsessed with making everything a race issue, making police the bad guys, and spreading false narrative to the masses. Everyone wants to play the victim, encourage others to play the victim and assume the roll of social justice warrior by typing a Facebook status about what they would do being put in the position of a law enforcement officer. Celebrities are demanding change for issues they view from a glass bubble on a hill in LA. Instead of posting a letter, why doesn’t Beyonce go to Chicago and try to change the black on black violence happening there if she is so concerned for the lives of her African-American brothers and sisters. I am tired of real issues being buried under easy scapegoats and headlines deciding what Americans pay attention to in this world. I am tired of worrying more and more that my dad goes to put his life on the line for all types of people, knowing he very well may have a target on his back based on the fact that people assume he’s a racist because of his badge. The justice system is tried and true for everyone in America and both of the cases I’ve discussed will be decided by the justice system. Not by you, not by me, not by our great aunt Sally on Facebook who SWEARS she wouldn’t have shot either of these men. None of us can make the call, so none of us should. And if you’d like to then please be my guest, go to the academy, apply to your local precinct, and become that “change” you want to see. Until you do that, keep your police hating Facebook post in your drafts, delete your tweets about institutionalized racism, and learn the facts about each case on your own without the narrative from Facebook and the major media outlets. If we all spent a little more time getting educated, all of our feeds would look much different I assure you. Today I am still thankful for my dad and all other policemen and women, and I still believe in persecution to the greatest extent of the law, for whoever the guilty party may be, as to be decided by the justice system. All I can do is see the world for what it is, and stand up for what is right based on truths. Stop spreading the false narrative. Learn the facts, learn what’s speculation, and then tell everyone you know. We must end the widespread belief that racism is to blame for these incidents and start spreading the truth and the truth alone. There are no oppressed and there are no oppressors. Only bad and good, right and wrong, and that changes case by case. We live in 2016, let’s start acting like it.