I originally sat down to write up an entry for Love Thursday, but my thoughts just keep circling back around to the recent riots and unrest in Ferguson MO. I wanted to say something about this and I didn't want it to get buried in a usual weekly post. This topic is too important for that. Protests started Sunday in response to the shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown. Police say that Michael Brown had an altercation with an officer in which he reached for the officer's gun. Michael Brown was shot as he was running away. Unarmed. Shot multiple times. Witnesses say that Michael Brown even had his hands up and was getting on the ground when the officer shot him a few more times.
Of course I in no way support rioting or even agree with reacting to violence with more violence. My heart goes out to Michael Brown's family. They deserve to know the truth of the events behind their son's death and they deserve justice. I recognize that I am in no way qualified to discuss matters of rioting, let alone racial profiling. But just like in the case of Trayvon Martin, the events behind Michael Brown's shooting could have easily happened on my street. It's bad enough that it involves racial profiling, but the excessive force has gotten out of hand. Guns always win over fists. You might shoot a person once in self defense, not multiple times.
Google "officer shoots unarmed person". As you scroll down the list of the search result, pay attention to two things. First, the number of unarmed shootings and second the race of those victims. A research report in Psychological Science, The Consequences of Race for Police Officers' Responses to Criminal Suspects found that police officers were more likely to mistakenly shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects. These are the results of putting police officers in an isolated room and showing them random pictures of college-aged males (equal numbers of black and white). In the picture the suspect was holding something, sometimes a gun, sometimes a wallet or cell phone. The interesting part about this study is that research noticed that officers exposed to the program over and over again lost their biases. This is strong evidence that these training programs should be mandated for all law enforcement officials.
I have never been a target of discrimination because of my race. I can't even begin to imagine what that's like for someone. And as a white woman, saying that I sympathize sounds inappropriate. No, my job as a white woman is to scream it from the mountain tops that this is unacceptable and that I do not condone or support or VOTE for people who allow intolerance in law enforcement agencies. It is my job to push for programs to educate police officers as well as people of the communities. At the end of the day ALL of us make up this country. There is no such thing as "those people" or "them". There is only "us". We are all just trying to live our lives, put food on the tables and roofs over our heads. All of us deserve to live our lives without fear that the people who are supposed to be protecting you are going to hurt you. All of us deserve to live our lives without fear.