We have a responsibility to keep these incidents in the public eye.
If you somehow are under the impression that posting stories on social media about police officers committing egregious acts of violence against black people is “anti-police,” then you are completely missing the point.
Most of us who post these stories fully support our police departments, and are very aware that the vast majority of police officers are good cops who desire to actually serve and protect their communities, and are trained to de-escalate potentially hazardous situations.
In comparison, does posting stories about fire-fighters who commit arson mean that the person posting is “anti-fire fighter?” Of course not. That would be ludicrous.
Even if we were somehow able to remove the racist and bigoted cops from every police department in the nation, and succeed in eliminating the systematic institutional racism that exists in the entirety of our judicial system, that still would not be enough.
Of course, the disaster that makes up our national mental health services for those who are poor and uninsured is horrific. The results of these individuals not being able to get the help they need is catastrophic. The way they are treated and the extremely limited amount of treatment they receive often leads to a worsening effect on whatever mental illness they are suffering, after which they are then released into the general public.
But I digress…
Training officers to handle mentally challenged individuals is paramount. Someone who is suffering from a mental illness may not always appear to be under duress, but may not be able to comprehend the commands that the officers are shouting. Someone who is suffering from mental illness may be triggered by the shouting to begin with.
Mentally ill people have a completely different way of dealing with stress. Shouting to put your hands in the air, to stop walking, to get on the ground, etc., may not be comprehended as what the officers intentions reveal. Without the proper training, even when the officers know they are responding to a call involving a mentally unstable suspect, the results are fairly predictable.
The suspect often just gets shot. Generally fatally.
The fact that black male suspects are treated as more of a threat than non-black suspects exacerbates the situation, which often escalates exponentially and very rapidly. This is what institutional racism results in. This is what is causing the rash of stories about unarmed black men being killed by police.
The lack of understanding what the black community has to deal with regarding the police, combined with the lack of understanding about the issues present when dealing with mentally ill people results in comments on social media such as,
“Well, the guy didn’t obey the commands of the cops, so he deserved what he got.”
“Why did the guy turn and walk away? If he just stopped and put his hands up, he would not be dead.”
“This was his own fault that he got shot. He was acting dangerously and wouldn’t do what the cops said”
These comments and those like them reflect the failure on a national level to understand how the black community perceives law enforcement as a result of institutional racism, the struggle of living in economically and educationally disadvantaged communities, the causes and effects of mental illness, and how when these are combined it creates a pressure cooker that requires much more training than is currently offered by many police officers.
It also requires those of us who have the ability to respond to these avoidable officer involved shooting of unarmed black men on social media, in our conversations with people in meatspace, and wherever possible.
Not for the reason to beat up on cops, but to make aware that these are real world problems, that there needs to be a change on a national level regarding institutional racism and the lack of training for the police to deal with the mentally ill, and to make sure the victims are not forgotten, or not remembered as ‘thugs’ who ‘deserved what they got’ for not obeying the police.