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Culture of Fear pt. 2

The officer who murdered Philando Castile was found not guilty. No real big shock there but what needs to be addressed is the reasoning behind him being found not guilty, which is the same reason that officer who murdered Terence Crutcher and the officer who murdered Tamir Rice were found not guilty. Fear.

Justified Fear

When I heard that Philando Castile’s killer made an emotional confession of being afraid and that leading him to kill in cold blood a restrained, cooperative citizen and to learn that his actions were deemed un-punishable because of it, I was disgusted and outraged. Black people have been living in fear for decades and somehow I just know that if we all started pulling out weapons and killing everyone that we were afraid of, we would be judged savages and terrorists.

I remember having discussions with people after the Trayvon Martin case. When his killer was validated publicly and by the justice system in his actions because he stated that he was afraid (despite the fact that he was 3 times the size of this little boy and had the boy pinned on the ground). People have their own opinions about that case and the similar ones that followed but the point I wanted to make wasn’t about whodunit but about what the results would mean objectively. If the legal system begins to allow fear to be cause for murder – for anyone – it is bound to be problematic further down the line. Our legal system is built upon precedent. Whatever judgment is made in one case becomes the basis or premise to argue for the same decision in a similar case. This testimony of fear as justification for murder stood out to me. And here we are some 4 years later seeing those ripples. The precedence has now been set that fear, at least for law enforcement, is justification for murder.

Fear and Power

Being a police officer is a dangerous job and can imagine that many times a day these individuals face the possibility of death. But such is the job. I thought the was the reason that these men are trained and equipped with weapons. And with the rising rates of people (not just Blacks) who die at the hands of police in this country, it makes one wonder how in the world do we manage to recruit so many cowards?

There was an article in Psychology Today where the writer stated:

I believe there is a correlation between fear and the amount of power people seek. An individual’s motivation for power is to acquire control over his environment. A certain amount of controlling behavior is a healthy natural survival instinct, but after a point it becomes harmful. When that happens normal survival is no longer the motivator.

I believe the author makes a very good point here, especially when we now look at the overwhelming fears being proclaimed by police officers who, by state governments, are granted authority. When we ask the question why do police (so they claim) have so much fear when they are the ones with the authority, I think the author of the article may be on to something. Perhaps these officers are actually afraid and that is why they seek to become police officers. This would also explain why so many of them have racial biases. The one thing we know for sure about racism is that it is bred from ignorance and people naturally fear the unknown.

So what we have is an insurgence of racist people who fear people of color and seek positions of authority in order to obtain the power to control those home they fear. If you couple that with the machinations of politicians who have used propaganda like “Prohibition,” “The War on Drugs” or “The War on Terror” to inspire fear in the citizenry, which of course would then digest the fear mongering and support the cowards in authority and their excessive and irrational actions because it was a means to control the danger. This web creates the conditions and contexts in which we now live; where police officers are justified for using excessive and deadly force because fear is enough.

The Point

 We have at least arrived at a point where I think most of America will agree that something must change regarding law enforcement. Many are calling for police reform. This is definitely needed but that reform should not just address practices and protocols, enrollment practices should be reviewed as well. Currently these requirements are dictated at the state level where, in lieu of low enrollment rates, the standards are often lowered (and to what detriment?). There should be a national standard set on the Federal level so that states will be more creative in their recruiting rather than dropping standards and overlooking red flags that signal that a person is not a good fit for the job. Someone with an inherent bias and/or fear of a particular population of community/area in their jurisdiction is clearly not someone we should hand a gun to and give the authority to determine when and where a citizen is allowed to access their rights. Right now it looks as though we have way too many emotionally reactive cowards and bigots on the police forces across the country and I just have to believe that, somewhere along the way, a larger number of these individuals could have been weeded out or shackled to a desk rather than roaming the streets infecting communities with their psychoses.

I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,

An Angry Black Man

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