Wrote this on Friday, deleted it, rewrote it again and then again. There are no right and proper words.... but I've tried. Injustice affects all.
Outraged this morning as yet again peaceful protests are marred by those conducting violence for the sake of violence. Riots and looting are not the answer. Rebuilding our justice system requires sincere change, accountability and cooperation. Outside pressure can drive change but the depth of reform required can only fully and truly be accomplished from within, with the cooperation of those who are part of the system we rail against.
Police departments, first responders and private businesses are not the enemy. Silence is the enemy. Lack of accountability is the enemy. Lack of oversight is the enemy. To find the answers needed for sincere change we need to look behind the thin blue line and unravel the codes of conduct and behavior that enable silence, lack of accountability and lack of oversight.
According to Journalist's Resource and in-depth research into Deaths in police custody in the United States, 4,813 persons "died during or shortly after law enforcement personnel attempted to arrest or restrain them" for the most recent period where statistics are available (2003 - 2009). With "homicides by state and local law enforcement officers being the leading cause of such deaths," accounting for 2,931 (60.9%) of such deaths. Of reported persons who died during the process of arrest:
95 percent were male.
5 percent were female.
About 42 percent were white.
About 32 percent were black/African American.
About 20 percent were Hispanic or Latino.
About 6 percent were Asian or other.
** NOTE: The original Journalist's Resource research article I quoted in May 2020 for several of my articles, including this one, was updated and revised shortly after I published my articles. The date of the revised article is June 7, 2020, and this is the article you now see when you click the link. The statistics for the period 2003-2009 remain the same, the revised article focuses on recent statistics. I don't doubt a congressional inquiry is the reason for these sudden changes, as I gave this article to my congressman in May 2020. **
Although 2,207 (75.3%) of these deaths by law enforcement were in response to a violent offense and intervention constituting a force-on-force situation, 704 (24.7%) were not. 7.9 percent of all homicides by police took place in the context of a public-order offense, 9.2 percent of all homicides by police had no specific context reported and 2.7 percent involved a drug offense.
Put another way, based on the available statistics, 688 people die each year by homicide by state and local law enforcement officers. That's about 13 people a week, and close to 2 a day. While about 3 in 4 (or 518) of these are violent offenders where force-on-force intervention are required, 1 in 4 (or 170) are not. Who's standing up for these 170 people being killed every year by law enforcement? They are white people, black people, hispanic/latino people, asian and other people.
Regardless of race, we should be standing together and shouting until we are heard.
Only by standing together can we overcome and rise above. We must work together to rebuild what is broken. All voices must be heard. As stated before, Police departments, first responders and private businesses are not the enemy. We must fight for what we believe in. We must fight until we are heard. But we must do so peacefully and within the law, not outside it.
Writing this in the state of health that I am in now has consumed me, yet my words are all I have to give. I hope they are enough to make indifferent ears not only hear but listen.
Thanks for reading, I’m William Robert Stanek, Microsoft’s #1 author for nearly 20 years, and author of over 250 topselling books.
Note: Based on the eye-opening report from Journalist's Resource @ the Harvard Kennedy School - Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
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