“I WOULDN’T DARE AS A CHIEF TELL ANYONE THIS KINDA THING NEVER HAPPENS… BUT WHAT THEY CAN BE ASSURED OF IS WE TAKE THIS VERY SERIOUS.”
There are few topics more heatedly debated in today’s political climate than that of police brutality and the rising police state. With each polarizing video that surfaces, the country is staunchly divided into two groups: the ones who believe that there is an ongoing war against police that is being spearheaded by groups such as Black Lives Matter, and the ones who believe that there has been a clear and unjustified rise in the militarization of police in the U.S. directly following 9/11 and the passing of the Patriot Act.
One need only review the statistics of police shootings to see two clear and unavoidable facts, and regardless of any one person’s opinion, they are facts:
First: There were over 1,100 police shootings that resulted in a civilian’s death in 2015. While there were 130 officers who died in the line of duty, only 41 of them were related to shootings. For instance: 17 were heart attack and eight were due to 9/11 related illness. These numbers were actually down 14% from 2014. So clearly, to claim that there is some war against cops and not the other way around is simply incorrect, as the statistics clearly show. Not to mention that 2015 was the second safest year for police ever, after 2013. So far in 2016, there have been 800 civilians shot and killed by police, with a total of 92 officer deaths in the line of duty, most of which were not gun related.
Second: In 2015 police killed 306 black civilians and 581 white civilians. So far in 2016, police have killed 200 black civilians and 398 white civilians. These numbers clearly show that more white individuals are being shot and killed by police, which is a stark contrast to the main talking point of many activist groups attempting to bring attention to the race issue in this country. The intention is not to diminish the very real problem this nation faces with systemic racism, as one can hardly deny that race is still a major issue in modern America. However, to force the point of race on this topic, regardless of what the facts say, is only taking focus away from what is a very real and visceral problem for Americans of any denomination.
The point being, regardless of one’s color, this rising issue is one all must face together. Despite one’s personal prejudice or opinion on the proper conduct during a police-civilian encounter, there is only one true guide to such interactions, and that is the Constitution of the United States of America. The video in question below can hardly be seen any other way than unconstitutional:
As Dejuan Yourse sat atop the steps of his own childhood home in Greensboro, North Carolina, awaiting his mother’s return, he was approached by officers who were responding to a report of an attempted break-in. The first officer who approaches is very respectful and is simply doing her job. But then the other officer decided, without any facts, aside from the ones that support Dejuan’s claim, that he would accost Mr. Yourse. Dejuan maintained an absolute air of respect up until the point when Officer Travis Cole decided, even with no laws being broken, and the fact that Dejuan’s address on his ID matched the one he was currently sitting in front of, that he would unlawfully use physical force to detain this currently peaceful man.
As anyone would reach their breaking point when being interrogated on their own front porch, Dejuan began to get frustrated when the officer used physical contact to force him to remain on the porch, which is a violation of his rights as a sovereign citizen, as he had not yet committed or been charged with a crime. Officer Cole was either unaware of his misstep or simply did not care. Judging by the lack of accountability in recent similar occurrences, it was most likely the latter, yet both are equally irresponsible. Officer Cole attempted to grab away Dejuan’s phone just as he was trying to bring an end to this ridiculous witch hunt by calling his neighbour to come verify his identity (which he had attempted to do in the beginning, yet Officer Cole said it wasn’t necessary), which is what crossed the line, and changed the situation from peaceful to hostile.
“I was very concerned and disturbed about what I saw,” said Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland last week after city officials viewed both officers’ body camera footage, local FOX8 reported.
“Well it’s horrible!” exclaimed City Councilman Mike Barber. “And I say this as a white male representative.
“If you get down to common decency and respect, that officer didn’t show it.”
The conflict arose from Officer Cole’s clear desire to find something wrong in a situation where clearly nothing was. This is exactly the type of policing that has created the perception that many hold today in regards to police. An officer is supposed to make a law-abiding citizen feel secure, yet in most cases, many Americans will tell you that when a cop is near, the only feeling anyone has is apprehension for what they might be unjustly charged for or coerced into; if you are reading this thinking that does not happen, there are quite literally thousands of incidents caught on tape that show exactly that. Yet we choose as a society to tell ourselves that each is just the exception to the rule, when in reality, as all are beginning to realize, it has become the rule.
“I wouldn’t dare as a chief tell anyone this kinda thing never happens. We have around 900 employees, over 680 sworn police officers on any given day getting dozens of calls and interactions. But what they can be assured of is we take this very serious.”
– Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott
Even the Chief of Police himself was clear about the fact that this “kinda thing” is not a rare occurrence. Yet in a truly rare turn of events, Officer Cole is being held accountable for his unconscionable actions against Mr. Yourse. The Greensboro City Council voted unanimously, 8 to 0, in favour of the permanent suspension of Cole’s law enforcement certification, ensuring not only Cole’s resignation from Greensboro police, but that he will never be a police officer again. That is an important inclusion in this disciplinary action, as many such cases end with the guilty officer being taken in with open arms by another police station, effectively rendering the judgment null and void with the protection of his fellow brothers in blue.
Complete removal from any form of law enforcement is exactly the type of reaction that is needed moving forward to show all current and aspiring police officers what will happen if you choose to take the law into your own hands and forgo anyone’s constitutional rights.
The question that must be posed is, if this were a white male acting exactly the same way, would he have been treated the same? Yes Dejuan is a large man, but does that excuse him of his constitutional rights? Especially when he was breaking no law, and abiding by the officer’s commands until he was within his rights to object to the unconstitutional act of forcefully detaining one who has committed no offence? Whether race played a factor in this incident is debatable, yet increasingly relevant.
It’s hard not to acknowledge the overwhelming amount of American citizens shot to death by police officers in this country. Rather, it should be impossible not to address the issue at hand, as more are killed by police in the U.S. than any other industrialized nation. This incident very easily and very quickly could have escalated unnecessarily to lethal force, as video evidence has shown many such unarmed Americans subjected to in recent years.
We must also remember that many of these officers are good people stuck in a bad situation, many of whom are beginning to speak out about this exact type of corruption. More still are trying to lead by example. It is up to the people to either stand united and call for the type of change both sides know is desperately needed, or stand divided and allow those slowly stripping this country of all that makes it unique and important, to bring this nation to its knees, only to be rebuilt as the Empire those behind the curtain so desperately desire.
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