Ferguson

Ferguson.

As in Ferguson, Missouri. That last time I witnessed such huge a racial divide among Americans was the O.J. trial with Rodney King just a few years prior.

Unfortunately, Ferguson and these other deplorable events only symbolize and brings to light what brews in the minds and hearts of some people 24/7, 365.

It seems that everyone has a strong opinion on the shooting of an unarmed African American young man and the subsequent rioting and pandemonium -along with the ultimate finding of innocence for the police officer who shot Michael Brown, Officer Darren Wilson.

I will offer you my take in a moment, though allow me to meander a bit here, first. I will Golden Snake, if you will.

I have “friends” (Facebook has really changed the meaning of the word thus I use quotation marks to qualify the meaning) who are on both sides of this issue. My more conservative friends tend to side with the police officer while my more liberal friends tend to side with the victim of the shooting –I find this disturbing.

This is all so predictable. The gun toting, law and order, ‘US-of-A-is-number-one-crowd’ so predictably sides with the police. The bleeding heart, ‘Give-me-your-tired-your-poor-USA-is-evil-crowd’ so predictably sides with the rioters and the victim in this case.

I find this bias all so VERY troubling…it is as if our ability to view reality is skewed by our deeper philosophical beliefs and predispositions and, subsequently, we have collectively lost the ability to critically think, discern, and evaluate such instances in a fair and objective manner.

It would seem we want to make events fit our reality rather than allow events to inform and guide our reality.  We will stretch, reshape, and contort pieces of such events and shove them into the puzzle of our personal mental schema in order to create a simple and uninterrupted map of our values and beliefs. In other words, we interpret events to fit our personal predispositions, bias and prejudices.

Critical thinking can be such a bitch.

Of course, we all have our own personal biases and prejudices. I, for one, am not a fan of law enforcement –I think you would only have to read my blog for 5 minutes to figure that out. It has been my experience that law enforcement in America has turned into an aggressive, bullying, “us vs. them” system that is running amok and out of control. Are there good cops? Of course.  Yet I contend most are not and have little to no concern for the greater public interest and welfare.

There. I said it. Now back to Ferguson. Appreciated the opportunity to meander.

You might think that I would obviously then side with the victim in this case given my prejudice. Perhaps, but it is not due to my prejudices. Acknowledging my personal beliefs and prejudices does NOT automatically mean I believe that an asshole cop overstepped his bounds in this instance. In fact, I believe he did not. First we have to be able to place our own personal shit aside and judge cases based on their own merit.

So what is my opinion in regards to Ferguson? I thought you would never ask.

We do not have a law enforcement racial problem in our country nearly as much as a law enforcement power problem.  Does racism in law enforcement exist? Of course it does. When one of my old neighbors told me they were quitting their lucrative job to join the LAPD, specifically in the city of Compton, I curiously asked him why. His EXACT response? “Cause I want to kill some niggers.”

Yep, racism exists. Particularly among hot headed, testosterone-driven, suburban white dudes.

Yet, it has been my experience that police officers love to use their guns, batons and flashlights –on anyone at anytime and therein lies the problem –racism only exacerbates a more fundamental problem.

One might opine they are assholes first and racists second. They seek violent opportunities first and foremost. By the way, I do not buy the “few bad apples” argument. This is a systemic problem that is growing worse.

Countless numbers of non-African Americans have either been killed by law enforcement or just gotten the shit beat out them (please do not click link if you have sensitive sensibilities) for no good reason. Whether it be cops high-fiving each other after punching out a Caucasian women or killing a Caucasian homeless man with their fist (while he was crying out for his father, no less) many police officers use their badge to work out their personal dysfunctional anger issues.

Tell me, and if you are in law enforcement, please respond. Why in the HELL did the police officer have to shoot and kill and a young unarmed man, hands in the air, EVEN IF the police officer felt threatened?

Could not a stun gun have been used just as effectively and save a young life? Pepper spray? If I have an ant problem in my home I purchase ant spray and solve the problem…I do not blow up the damn house. Both would work, yet the latter is entirely unnecessary.

We do not solve problems by utilizing the most extreme measure first. If my car breaks down I don’t run out and buy a new one…I fix the problem.

Not to equate a human life with ants or a car, but I think you get the point

I am not suggesting the officer was not following protocol…apparently he was.  Yes, I side with the victim yet I also side with the officer in that he was doing what he was trained to do. My point is that this shooting protocol is what needs to change. The entire system needs to be changed. Officer Darren Wilson was doing what his training taught him to do. But come now, death in this instance? Absolutely pointless, meaningless, and unwarranted.

In another case of police violence, the officer who killed Eric Garner in New York City with a choke hold, was exonerated while the person who shot the viral video of this chokehold was found guilty of an earlier gun possession.  Hmmmm.

I guess police officers do not like it when you film them doing their job…poorly.

A racial problem? Perhaps, but far and away it is much more a power problem.

A couple of years ago I had a former California Highway Patrol Officer in one of my courses. After listening to one of my rants concerning law enforcement he claimed that I had no idea how hard a job it is. To which I responded that I agreed with him –it is a very difficult job -which is why I believe all officers must have a Bachelor’s degree and/or be at least 26 years of age before we give them one of the most powerful positions in society.

Will this solve the problem? No, but it certainly would be a good start.  It is very difficult to be EDUCATED and a power hungry racist.

What saddens me is that most protestors see the problem as skin color first and power second. If we all wait for members of our personal ethnic background to be viciously attacked to have our voice be heard, the problem will never be solved. White people need to stand up for black victims and vice versa. We all need to stand up for reasonable and civilized enforcement regardless of the ethnic background of the victim. Until then, our numbers will be weak and ineffective.

I was having a conversation with a friend last night who said she has had nothing but positive encounters with police in her life…which thrilled me.  As one who has needed protection in her life, I get it and am so grateful to hear that. Yet, why have I -a hardworking, tax paying, law abiding citizen (and one who apparently does not need much protection)- NEVER  had a positive experience with a police officer?  When we see a police car on the street our reaction should be one of relief and solace; why the hell is it the other way around? I see a police car and I feel they are out to get me for some chickenshit reason.

We are a crazy gun loving culture and law enforcement reflects this. Did the Ferguson officer do something wrong? Morally yes, yet legally no.  It is this type of “shoot first, obtain facts later” protocol and policy that needs to change.

As much as I hate to acknowledge it and wish it were not so, rioting works in the short term. It gets people’s attention and is an outlet for people so frustrated they feel they have no other alternatives. And until law enforcement changes their “shoot first, ask questions later” policies, I am afraid Ferguson is just the beginning. With new videos of police brutality popping up everyday, the problem is no longer hidden behind the closed doors of the good old boys club. We now see you and we are appalled.