Police Brutality: “When Is It Going to Stop?”

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

July 7, 2016

I’m nauseous and heartsick and angry and ashamed today, July 7, 2016.

Two more black men in America have been needlessly and wrongly gunned down by police over the last 48 hours.

Police

First, Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was lying on the ground, with two officers over him, when one of them shot him dead.

And then, 1,200 miles north, near the Twin Cities, Philando Castile, was shot to death while reaching for his driver’s license after he had notified an officer that he had a concealed carry permit.

It’s devastating to listen to Alton Sterling’s son crying, “I want my daddy,” when Sterling’s widow is trying to explain how difficult it is for her, as a mother, to be unable to make things right for her child.

It’s devastating to listen to Philando Castile’s mother, speaking on CNN, saying, “We’re being hunted every day,” and “We’re never free.”

It’s devastating to listen to Philando Castile’s uncle ask, “When is it going to stop? What do we got to do to make it stop?”

These killings, and so many that have come before them, are an indictment of democracy in America.

We are not a democracy when, if you’re a black man in America, you are automatically viewed as a suspect.

We are not a democracy when, if you’re a black man in America, you can so easily be deprived of your Fifth Amendment right not to “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.”

We are not a democracy when, if you’re a black man in America, you can so easily be deprived of your rights under the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits any state from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (And it is worth remembering that the Fourteenth Amendment was passed to try to rectify America’s original sin of slavery.)

We are not a democracy when, if you’re a black man in America, you can so easily fall victim to a police officer who acts as judge, and jury, and executioner.

When is it going to stop?

What do we got to do to make it stop?

It’s not going to stop until every police force, around the country, reexamines and amends its “shoot to kill” policy.

It’s not going to stop until juries and judges start convicting police officers in cases where the overwhelming evidence demonstrates their guilt.

And it’s not going to stop until all of us confront white supremacy.

We got to make it stop.

Until then, we won’t have justice in America.

Until then, we won’t have democracy in America.

WDC Executive Director Matthew Rothschild
Matthew Rothschild
WDC Executive Director

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