And Yet We Still Make It So…

4 Sep

As I am sure many of you already have, I have spent quite a bit of time wondering about the goings on in Ferguson, Missouri and about how a police officer could shoot and kill an unarmed citizen in the manner in which he did.

Of course already several weeks have passed since the incident and the internet and airwaves have been filled with a myriad of reasonings as to why this tragedy occurred. Was the police officer frightened or doing his duty or protecting the public? Was he scared or in fear of his life as some have suggested? Was he a racist? Or perhaps…the young unarmed victim had it coming? Or was a thug who deserved to be shot? Or maybe he was just so big and scary that his entire frightening self was more dangerous than any police officer with a gun could ever be?

Or maybe if the young man had simply just done what he was told to do by an authority figure this just never would have happened…

But after thinking about it for quite a while it dawned on me that perhaps the reason for this fatal occurrence between these two vastly different people was a much simpler one.

The police officer shot and killed the man because…he could.

And the eventual victim of that shot behaved in the manner in which he did because…he couldn’t.

I believe that for human beings, The reasons that we have for taking a life from this world… are sometimes all too sadly… that simple…especially in a world of haves and have-nots where those two distinct poles are rapidly accelerating away from each other as they are in our societies today.

And I also believe that the solutions needn’t be any more complicated…



8 Responses to “And Yet We Still Make It So…”

  1. womanseyeview September 4, 2014 at 1:16 am #

    This is a very sad commentary… In the U.S and Canada young black men are shot inordinately compared to their numbers and it seems mostly because they are black… And you may be right – because they can be… Shame on us all.

  2. avwalters September 4, 2014 at 3:36 am #

    Shame on us. Shame on the arming of the police like an occupying force–because then they behave like one. And, shame on us that the life of a young black man is presumed to be less important.

  3. shunpwrites September 4, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    Always insightful my friend. Unfortunately, this is tied into a marked lack of empathy. The association of young men who happen to be “black” as an “other” an exotic and when this happens, it is a slippery path indeed. I touched on this recently and the need to extract ourselves from limits of labels.

  4. heavenhappens September 4, 2014 at 6:27 am #

    Profoundly sad, you have found the kernel of truth I fear.

  5. A Voice September 4, 2014 at 7:24 am #

    “But after thinking about it for quite a while it dawned on me that perhaps the reason for this fatal occurrence between these two vastly different people was a much simpler one.

    The police officer shot and killed the man because…he could.”

    I’m not so sure that this is the case. It may be, I won’t deny that, but I’m not so sure given current evidence.

    Any number of police agencies, small or large, can see a remarkable amount of danger and the imprints of both training and experience can create the appearance of situations that simply do not exist in reality. Simply put, the personal experience (on the job and off the job) and training of individual officers can condition officers to respond in certain ways. This can result in legitimate tragedies, tragic confusion or both.

    Over and over again I stress that our culture needs to change and our education needs to be meaningfully standardised and improved, as it is only through a better culture and real education that we can get better as a people.

    But in the interim it’s important for things to be in place to regularly test for and recognise police officers who may, because of a combination of their experience and training, make them more likely to respond to situations that do not exist in reality and thereby aim to circumvent tragedy. These officers need to have real psychological care and become re-acculturated, both if they want to continue as a police officer and the former in order to demonstrate a real care for community and those who aim to protect it.

    Simply put, we need to attend to and aim to fix not symptoms but causes.

    • gpicone September 5, 2014 at 4:26 am #

      What’s so hard about not shooting someone? I was a public school teacher for 33 years. If I ever accelerated violence that I saw or answered violence with violence or in any way helped to add to school or classroom violence, I would never work again. My job was to do the opposite and I and my fellow teachers who wanted to remain on the job knew that. It seems to me and my experience has been, that police officers know or are taught that it is OK to accelerate or enhance or answer violence when they see it with more and greater and even deadly violence. Why is that necessary or OK in anyone’s world view, that’s what I’d like to know?

      • A Voice September 5, 2014 at 6:23 am #

        I can understand where you’re coming from and the rationale behind it, however I’m finding more and more that people are focusing less on core issues of culture -mental health, education, et al.- over peripheral issues or the particular nastiness of any given incident. And to be fair, however hazardous teaching has undoubtedly become in any given area or areas, the hazards faced by teachers aren’t appreciable in kind, quality or quantity, all things considered, to what is faced by police officers.

        I believe that you recognise this and that something has captured your attention in an unfortunate way. Truth be told, I’ve seen that a bit over the past few months and I genuinely hope things get better on your end. You’re too damned intelligent, insightful and compassionate to get so unduly caught up.

        What happened with Michael Brown was less relevant, all things considered, than what happened with Kajime Powell ( but I’ve heard precious little about the latter with all too much in respect to the former. This is in some real and relevant way part of the cultural problems we’re facing and the silence is telling.

        When I watched Powell die I saw again the stark reality of part of our culture and it’s not essentially but conditionally relevant to things like racism, corrupt police power, incoherent and inconsistent responses to crime and other things. If our educational systems were better Powell would be less likely to be there and the officers would be less likely to respond in that way. The same can be said for a meaningful healthcare system that treats mental health as of equal importance to physical health and, of course, if our educational systems were better there wouldn’t be a stigma around caring for mental health.

        In this comment and the one before it I’m neither sanctioning nor excusing violent police behaviour. I’m instead explaining why it can happen like this and what we can do, what we ought do, as a society to address it and mitigate its occurrences. Again, as ever, we need to attend to and aim to fix not symptoms but causes.

        But I honestly don’t know what it will take because the deaths of the ‘right kind of people’ (small, white children) in Newtown, CT didn’t prompt change and neither did the more and more sensational deaths of the ‘wrong kind of people’ (young, black males) in and around Ferguson, MO. It seems to me corporate interests have far too much political control and that the effects of this control, our culture, needs to be taken back by the people most impacted by it. After all, who but corporate entities and dumb-fuck morons are rallying against sensible firearm legislation, environmental legislation, education reform, science funding, a legitimate presence to the arts, and genuine healthcare?

        That’s the core of this issue.

  6. cllgarrison September 4, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Would you be a police officer if you were unarmed, going up against people who potentially could be? What if you were an unarmed officer and people were threatening your life? You wait for them to shoot first?

    I’m not necessarily pro police, because honestly there is a lot of police brutality in our country that needs to be addressed. But what I think most people of this mentality fail to remember, is police officers are people too! They have families they want to get home to. Wives they love, parents that would care if they were shot by a thug, or beaten to death by one.

    At the end of the day, who would want to protect the public if they could be killed basically whenever, because they aren’t allowed to use any force? Where do you draw the line?

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