Much needed dialogue

Last updated on July 21st, 2016 at 05:29 pm

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

My heart and prayers go out to the families of the most recent victims killed by policemen in Baton Rouge, and Falcon Heights, Minn. and to the families of the five Dallas policemen killed last week. These senseless deaths leave the nation with their hands in the air wondering when this madness is going to stop. It seems that instead of recognizing this horrendous practice of racial injustice and working to remedy its presence, hate seems to be the obvious reoccurring result. We as a nation cannot heal and go forward until this cancer is stopped and kept from continuing and spreading.

One of the saddest parts of the dilemma is the position that some people are taking on who is responsible. There are several Whites who feel that the Blacks stopped by law enforcement agencies were in the wrong and therefore did something illegal—deserving the outcome precipitating their untimely demise. All too often, this rationalizing has kept many White citizens apathetic to the outcome of those killed and the outrage felt by the Black community.

Statistics and facts definitively state that a disproportionate number of Blacks are killed by policeman compared to their White counterparts. This has caused the movement Black Lives Matter to counter, calling for a change to the law enforcement system seemingly targeting Blacks as a whole. Evidently there are practices and procedures taught and condoned by some law enforcing agencies making people of color key targets to police brutality.

One major concern among many citizens is the question of why is it some police shoot to kill instead of trying to maim people who may be guilty of misdemeanors or petty crimes. Many people are not arguing that the police may have a reason to stop a suspected violator of the law, but that it shouldn’t have to end with the person being victimized and possibly killed—especially for what was originally a misdemeanor or petty crime.

It is easy to understand why so many people have concluded that this injustice is targeted toward people of color, especially African Americans. The Washington Post reported that during 2015, 40% of all unarmed men shot and killed by police were Black, although Black men only represent six percent of the nation’s population. It is a fact that although more Whites were killed by police, it was more proportional to their percentage of the overall population at 62%.

It is no secret that there exists a greater amount of crime in poverty stricken communities often dominated by Blacks, but that is no reason to trivialize their worth as human beings. Equal consideration should be given to all citizens arrested especially when arrested on petty crimes or misdemeanors. Color should not determine the outcome of an arrest. All lives matter.

The outcry among Blacks and Whites seeking change and justice during the Black Lives Matter protests is an effort to bring to light and change what many see as a corrupt systemic practice among many law enforcing agencies. They also want justice for those they feel were unnecessarily killed. The pain and suffering of the families of those killed by police officers as well as policeman killed, is heartbreaking and overwhelming.

The Black community is not without blame in being the biggest contributor of killing Blacks with ‘Black-on-Black’ killings. But this should not blindside one to the fact that some of our police who were hired to protect and keep us safe are contributing to our demise. The hiring of racist police and questionable practices and procedures being taught by some law enforcing agencies cannot be ignored. In some cases, it seems some taxpayers of color are contributing to their own extinction.

A much-needed dialogue is needed to address this elephant in the room that has no intentions of going away without a fight. Sensitive defensive feelings need to take a backseat, and both parties need to address the realities that exist to find a solution. We must come together to heal. Please do not dilute or take away from this crisis by defining it basically as a Black or White problem, but see it as chronically wrong. And you correct a wrong or injustice by doing the right thing. I pray that there is enough love among our nation to bring about the peace needed to go forward.

Much respect and honor should be given to the majority of men in blue who put their lives on the line every day to protect us and keep our communities safe. We know police are constantly confronted with dangerous situations where they may be afraid and feel threatened, but that is when quick thinking and rational professional thinking is warranted. Unfortunately, it only takes a small number doing ‘wrong’ to tarnish the integrity of the majority. Hopefully, the good policemen will take a major role in correcting wrongs they may see within their departments.

Perhaps more stringent hiring practices are needed with more emphasis given on diversity training. Too many people of color guided by their particular reality see policemen as bullies and tyrants, often over exerting their position of authority. Common sense dictates that police who have a vested interest in the people and community they patrol are more apt to act as conduits, working together to promote community harmony and participation.

Law abiding citizens should not fear or detest the police. An open and honest dialogue is needed to bring about positive change with mutual respect for all parties.