To the Editor:
It is a fact that a problem will never be solved if it is not clearly identified and understood. The killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the subsequent protests and demonstrations resulted in widespread media coverage, including international coverage. However, this was not an isolated event.
Around that period police killed unarmed African-American males in St. Louis, California, Ohio and New York, most with multiple gunshots.
There is a historical pattern of police in the U. S. killing unarmed African-American males. Most of the time the killings are found to be justified and there are no consequences for the police officers involved.
This issue was reviewed by a committee of the United Nations, which monitors compliance with a treaty ratified by 177 countries including the U.S. The committee condemned U. S. police brutality. It also indicated that it remained concerned at the practice of racial profiling of racial minorities by law enforcement officials, including the FBI, TSA, border enforcement officials and local police. The committee urged more thorough investigations into police misconduct. The committee also called for review of Stand Your Ground laws in 22 states.
In many instances the result of the investigations called for additional training of police. However, if it were a matter of training the incidence of individuals killed by multiple gunshot attacks would be much higher in the white community, based on population.
Police officers rarely shoot white citizens multiple times, even when the white citizen is armed and threatening. White citizens are approached peacefully, and every effort is made to talk the individual into giving up their weapon. Compare this with the manner in which the police approach African-American citizens, even even when they are unarmed.
Individual conduct is governed by one’s attitude. The attitude of police, as it relates to African-American males, is critical. Change of police officers’ attitudes toward African-American males must be a part of any plan of corrective action to address this problem.
We as a community must take the position that the killing of unarmed citizens is unacceptable. We have to demand an explanation from our elected officials of the disparity in the treatment of citizens. Elected officials must ensure there are consequences, including prison for police officers who kill unarmed citizens. If elected officials are unwilling to hold police officers accountable, the elected officials should pay a price at the polls, and not be re-elected. It is past time for people of good will to stand up and demand the police carry out their responsibility to protect and serve or pay a price.