NOTE: This paper was written in April, 2015; just before Freddie Gray’s murder, just before the Rekia Boyd dismissal, and other events that happened too fast to register. The rate that unarmed Black people are being murdered by police officers, who are all ‘fearful of their lives,’ is beyond belief. In the last few days, one was cleared from shooting a couple whose car had backfired. They were so paranoid that they thought it was gunfire. This was in Cleveland, OH a few years ago. Rather than investigating first, this guy and his cohorts shot into their car over 100 times, with a grand finale of standing on the hood of their car, shooting directly into the windshield. How can he be set free after that? And why aren’t the others who helped in this execution charged as well? These are the things that we need to address, NOW. We’re being shot at from both sides; sounds like genocide to me.
Please take the poll related to this post – Police Need Annual Psychiatric Evaluations: What Do YOU Think?
Police officers that shoot unarmed Black men with impunity and without remorse desperately need annual psychological evaluations. They don’t fear punishment because the justice system allows their actions when it comes to Black men, of all ages. They are repeatedly cleared from all murder charges in the majority of cases, so there’s no motive to cease and desist. In one week during April 2015, two officers were finally charged with illegal shootings and killing of Black men in two different cities. That was a complete anomaly compared to what usually happens. The shootings are so frequent that since I started this paper in mid-March, there have been at least 109 unarmed people shot by policemen. Only the ones ending in death make the news, but there are many, many more that don’t. Only one person was not Black. The officers should really be evaluated monthly, to assure the public they are fit for duty. If they can’t pass a psyche evaluation, they should immediately lose their gun and shield and given a less stressful position where they no longer have the power of a gun at their immediate disposal. It’s ok – everyone isn’t built for that level of stress.
The mental state and profiles of police officers who’ve been shooting unarmed Black men over the last few years as if it were normal should be examined monthly and given much more attention in the public media than has taken place to date. I believe this is true because only a mental imbalance can cause so many people to feel they can commit murder without remorse and with an institutionalized approval, shown by their repeated lack of serious charges. Although there were two recent anomalies, the majority of the time, any officer that shoots and kills a Black man does not go to jail, neither do they get charged criminally. There’s something seriously wrong with American society. Iris Young talks about these methods of oppression in her chapter on the five faces. Violence, marginalization, racial exploitation and cultural imperialism all fit into the actions of policemen against the African-American community. She discussed this particular type of oppression when she said, “What makes violence a face of oppression and a social injustice is less the particular acts themselves, though these are often utterly horrible, than the social context surrounding them, which makes them possible and even acceptable. What makes violence a phenomenon of social injustice and not merely an individual moral wrong is its systemic character, its existence as a social practice, its legitimacy, and its irrationality.” (Young, 13) Violence is just one tool in a briefcase of subjugation. Young’s statement confirms that this practice is considered normal and acceptable. Earl Graves, a famous Black entrepreneur, also agrees that some policemen suffer from an ‘above the law’ attitude. He said, “We must hold law enforcement accountable for unjust, incompetent, or intentionally malicious use of deadly force, making it clear that they are not above the law they are sworn to enforce, nor are they allowed to selectively honor their duty to serve, protect, and preserve life.” (Graves) His statement confirms the consensus that the protection of the courts and justice system enables rogue officers to literally get away with murder. We must stop and take a look at their collective mental state, to see why they think these shootings are acceptable. Graves protested in 1999 over the police shooting and death of Amadou Diallo, and went to jail for it. One year later, the 4 policemen involved were acquitted. (NYT, Feb. 2000) In an op-ed at the time of Diallo’s murder, Orlando Patterson said, “Domestically, the penalty we now pay for our unequal and punitive system of justice is the self-contradiction of our most basic liberties.” This was a statement from a citizen of NYC, no one famous. It’s the truth.
The public is not happy about these shootings. In fact, the more they protest, the more shootings seem to happen, as if their disapproval means nothing. (Frolik, Dayton Daily News. 2014) For a while, it seemed as if former Attorney General Eric Holder was going to address the matter, but he, too fell short of justice, even though that’s what he’s supposed to represent and execute. As the country turns more and more into an oligarchy – void of democracy – the will of the people no longer matters to politicians who are bought and sold with every election. Iris Young spoke of capitalists in every ‘face,’ but not of oligarchs. It seems that she didn’t want to take it that far. When describing marginalization, she said, “Marginalization is perhaps the most dangerous form of oppression. Via marginalization, a whole category of people is expelled from useful participation in social life and thus potentially subjected to severe material deprivation and even extermination.” (Young, 8) A report issued in April 2014 by Princeton’s Martin Gilens and Northwestern’s Benjamin I. Page explained in detail how America is no longer a democracy, benefitting all of its citizens. (Kapur, TPM 2014) It is now a bona-fide oligarchy, run by the 1% for their personal and business benefit. It’s not easy to marginalize an entire society, where the group issues that Young discussed have practically no application in 2015. Occupy Wall St. got it right; you’re either a 1%, or a 99%. The groups in-between no longer count, unless you’re African-American or Black.
Just as a large segment of society started to arm themselves immediately after President Obama’s election, it seems that certain segments of the population suddenly fear for their safety today. They came to the conclusion that a new President Obama would allow a race war, after removing their primary means of defense, of course. It was a period of mass hysteria, stirred up by those who couldn’t take the fact that he won the election. The payback for winning was to crack down on every person of color in the place where they were least powerful – the criminal courts system. That’s true powerlessness. As Thoreau put it: ”Whatever the human law may be, neither an individual nor a nation can commit the least act of injustice against the obscurest individual without having to pay the penalty for it.” He’s just saying that every action has a reaction, which we are all supposed to know. The question is, how long does one do wrong and continue to think they won’t pay for it during their lifetime?
There has been research as far back as the 70s, where Black psychologists have written about the ‘white supremacy’ problem in America. Dr. Frances Cress Welsing published her theories on this topic that were revolutionary, but unfortunately, not well received by the general medical community. That doesn’t mean that what she said isn’t true. Sometimes, the human mind doesn’t want to face the truth about themselves. In Dr. Welsing’s seminal book, “The Key to the Colors,” (Welsing) she explained in detail the cause and effect of white supremacy. First, the white population is scared because they fear retaliation for all of the atrocities done to the Black community, since slavery. Secondly, they are scared of becoming extinct, since they are the minority people of the world. Three-fourths of all human beings are of color. If a specific group has been dominating via oppression, there’s a reason for that group’s apprehension for retribution. That just means you understand the concept of Karma. The subject that Dr. Welsing discussed at length which her colleagues were incensed about was the fact that there is unspoken envy. No one wants to admit to that, and Iris Young didn’t address this aspect of oppression in her writings. It would fall under the category of racial exploitation. Entire multi-billion dollar industries are flourishing, selling color to people without. There is a psychological deficit at play in this scenario, but will it be acknowledged across the board, or ignored?
Is the national constabulary angry because Obama won, after almost six years? If so, it would explain their reaction to the most minor of infractions. My position that there must be a mental imbalance in a person that so easily takes another’s life must be examined. Every police officer should get a psychological profile review every six months, in order to keep their jobs. If they fail, then rather than fire them, they can be moved to a position that doesn’t call for them to have a gun. The public media has ignored this aspect of this major societal problem. Victims are being blamed for their own deaths. Of course, they were about to do something wrong, that’s why they were accosted by the police. Aldous Huxley made a profound statement in discussing propaganda: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” (The Independent, 2015)
This topic is important to me because I know personally the effect that being on the target end of a policeman’s gun can have on one’s life and mental well-being. To lose a life under these circumstances is untenable, and to have the shooters let off of the hook repeatedly is uncivilized. It’s important to all people of color. It’s also important to the general society who allows people to continue in this barbaric manner. It redefines the meaning of civil society. I chose this topic can’t be emphasized enough – Black men aren’t for target practice, not doing something illegal as they go about their day, and they deserve justice in the event a policeman gets out of line and feels the only way to deal with a situation is to shoot first and ask questions later. If they were doing something illegal, then the police officers were trained to arrest someone safely without killing them. This is definitely a social justice matter, because lives are at stake here. The relationship between this subject and I.M. Young’s ‘faces’ is obvious. (Young) The violence, first and foremost, occurs because victims of the police officers lose their lives in most cases. Marginalization occurs because the victims, their families and entire ‘modus operandi’ is relegated to the back of the bus, so to speak. They’re treated as if they’re not important, and their killing is not important. They didn’t leave a mother, father, sister, brother, wife or children to mourn their death and if they did, so what? Hence the war cry #BlackLivesMatter. Powerlessness is the resulting feeling when this goes on for so many years, yet the community can’t stop it, and the institutions are its primary sponsor. Cultural Imperialism occurs in police murders of unarmed Black men due to their ordinary routine being interrupted by the co-opting of their culture, again without recourse. Finally, Exploitation is the first ‘face’ that enables the rest. It’s the dominant culture stealing from those who they shoot, then say that it was justifiable homicide. Because an entire society has been criminalized in the eyes of the dominant culture, anything done to them is justifiable; they must have been doing something wrong, or about to do so.
No society will last if it continues to mistreat part of its population to the extent that we have been. After slavery was ended, not for a moral adjustment but to save the Union; after Reconstruction, when Black men elected to Congress were suddenly thrown out because of their skin color; after Jim Crow, when probably a million unreported beatings and lynchings took place over several states and many years – after all of that, we have to put up with ‘Wild West’-minded police officers? I think not; it’s just a matter of time before this explodes on the streets of this nation. Ever since ancient times, no society that deprives an entire segment of its basic human rights lasts forever. We are turning into Sodom and Gomorrah. Neither of them lasts.
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