Denying racism in police brutality cases is a step backward

Maris Lambie, Reporter

I recently read an article from The Buffalo News in which the writer commented on the “Black Lives Matter” protests that have been going on for nearly a year now. The writer implies that these shootings conducted by white police officers on black men is not a “race issue,” that we should “let the legal system work.” There are several problems with this.

We cannot just “let the legal system work” as the cops are killing these unarmed black men are part of that system. It seems like the legal system will seem always to favor the white cops because they are in a position of power and privilege because of their race and profession. The writer raised several questions about the officer that shot Walter Scott. “Maybe he was a bad cop; maybe it was a lack of judgment; maybe he panicked.”

Aren’t cops supposed to be trained to have good judgment in these situations? Aren’t they supposed to be trained regarding how to handle certain situations so they don’t panic and pull out their guns? Aren’t they trained how to apprehend unarmed civilians without killing them? Cops should not be pulling the trigger because they thought a black man looked threatening.

The writer claims that even if the murder were not captured on tape, the cop would still have gotten arrested because of “forensics.” I highly doubt this. Take a look at all the cases in our country of white cops murdering unarmed black civilians; almost none of them were locked up, even with extensive evidence. Take a look at what happened to Michael Brown. A white cop murdered Brown for resisting arrest after allegedly stealing cigars. Even when more evidence was cleared up making it obvious that Wilson was guilty, Wilson still was not indicted. And while some will argue that Brown was a criminal and deserved to get shot, stealing cigars is not worth ending a life. As mentioned, cops have training on how to handle situations like this and should not be shooting people.

The point of this is we cannot ignore the race issue when these shootings and protests happen for two reasons. 1) White cops get away with police brutality towards African Americans all the time. 2) These black men would not have gotten murdered if they were white. For example, in 2012 James Holmes, a white man went to a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and shot and killed 12 people. He was not shot by the police but was apprehended without resistance.

Another example from 2012 is TJ Lane, a white teenager who went on a shooting spree at his school. He was not shot by the officers, despite being armed and dangerous, but was taken into custody alive. Earlier this year, he broke out of prison, and when the officers found him, despite Lane being an escaped murderer, he was not shot but was taken into custody alive.

Both Lane and Holmes were violent, homicidal white men who were taken into custody peacefully. So why is it that white murderers who are armed get shot by cops at such a lower rate than unarmed black men? Even though all these cases of white cops murdering unarmed black men are different situations and separate cases, the message remains the same. The writer claimed that we should not “rush to judgment,” but how can we not when all of these cases are so similar? Granted, the cop that shot Walter Scott recently in South Carolina was charged for homicide and will either face 30 years to life or the death penalty.

That does not change the fact that in most of these cases, the officers are never even indicted. While the writer seems to have his heart in the right place (“Let’s unite as a nation and find the truth,”) we cannot unite as a nation until we stop denying the race factor in these cases. Once we admit that there is still racism going on in this country can we really start to analyze these cases on a deeper level, and work together to bring justice to those who were wrongfully murdered.

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