A man pulled a gun on a cop last Tuesday in a suburb of St. Louis called Berkeley. He was shot by the police officer and he died. The investigation will take weeks and even months. It may take years before court proceedings are complete. Certainly those most closely associated with the event, particularly the officer who pulled the trigger, and the mother of the man who was killed, will forever be changed by this unfortunate event.
According to news reports, a crowd of approximately 300 gathered near the gas station where the man was shot. People in the crowd started throwing bricks and rocks. They want payback. For Ferguson. For a “choke-hold”. For everything.
I’m intentionally leaving out the guy’s name that got shot. He shouldn’t be memorialized or honored for pulling a gun on a cop, nor should his name be nationally demonized or used as political propaganda. But the crowd of protesters doesn’t think the way I do. Forget his name. They want revenge.
I’m not going to mention the name of the cop who lived either. His name shouldn’t be recognized or strewn throughout the Internet. His family shouldn’t receive threats. He shouldn’t either. Cyber-bullying has truly gotten out of hand. Living under the constant threat of being targeted isn’t a way for anyone to live; it’s not war, it’s America.
On Monday the cop was an ordinary, hardworking police officer. On Tuesday, his world turned upside down. It’s not like he wants the attention. I’m sure he didn’t want to shoot someone, but he didn’t want to get killed either just because he’s a cop. Just because he’s wearing a uniform, there will be people who want to kill him (e.g. the two cops in NYC who were gunned down the week before).
With what happened in Ferguson, the area is especially inflamed in a racially charged war against police and government. Just like in Ferguson, too many people want violence. They want to riot. People want something to inflame them. Getting amped up can bring a feeling of being alive.
It reminds me of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus:
Let me have war, say I: it exceeds
Peace as far as day does night.
Calming down and being rational is much more difficult than being angry. It’s easy to get angry. Forgiveness is much more of a challenge. Letting the courts and the investigation take place is hard. We want answers now!
The media and the world is so intrigued and quick to point out that the cop was white and the man he shot was black. Never mind the fact that about half of the department is black. Never mind that a huge part of the city, about 9,000 in population, is also black. Never mind that the white officer working in a heavily populated black area has many great interactions with people of the opposite race.
At the end of the day, these media “observations” just incite racial hatred. Sure, we shouldn’t pretend it doesn’t exist; racism does still exist, unfortunately, but we have come a long ways since the Civil War, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and that deserves attention too. There are strict laws in place to deal with acts of hate and for the most part, people get along despite the color of their skin.
Have we forgotten this? Do we really need to dig up painful history and suggest that white cops are targeting black citizens just because they’re black? What about black men and women who feel like victims even though they don’t want to be involved as “victims”? Let’s stop calling it what it’s not. This is not a race war. This is not a white cop against black citizen. This is police action period.
The more the media falsely recount these police actions as evidence of systematic racial prejudice and the more we see skin color as one of the defining decisions to such use of force incidents, the more our nation will be pushed back into the Civil War-era catacombs. We’re better than that.
When someone gets shot by police, it’s not about the color of skin—either the police officer or the person who gets shot; it’s about the totality of circumstances surrounding the incident. Skin color should not be brought into the equation except on the most obvious occasions. In short, to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the content of the person’s character (as well as the events surrounding the police action) need to be judged and not the color of skin.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.