Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tulsa, BLM, the Anti-Reform Movement, and Coming Together

As usual, the minute there’s a police shooting, this time in Tulsa, people on every side of the issue begin shooting their mouths off about it.

The anti-BLMs/All Lives Matter people really need to take a few steps back and fathom losing a loved one. They hear Black Lives Matter, they see protests in the street, they see one or two negative stories, these stories are repeated on what seems an endless loop 24/7 it seems, as if that’s what BLM promotes. 

Too many people appropriate those few negative events with the BLM movement across all of those who support Black Lives Matter. Some of these same people accuse BLM and those who want more police accountability and criminal justice reform of believing all police are corrupt. 

Therein lies the problem. 
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This all or nothing mentality, this ‘you’re either with us or you’re against us’ mentality doesn’t help anyone heal and certainly doesn’t help the facts to be heard or discovered in a rational fashion. 

There is a perception that when someone says Black Lives Matter they’re saying ONLY Black Lives Matter. That simply is not the case. If it were, the movement would be called Only BLM.

Also, wanting police to be more accountable and to decrease the numbers of citizens dying and being injured by police actions should be something that everyone could and should get behind, especially police. I don't know any cop that thinks there should be more police shootings. I don’t know any cop that wants to use their weapon against unarmed citizens.
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Most police shootings of citizens every year are absolutely reasonable and necessary. There are many others that are debatable as being absolutely necessary in the lethality. And, there are some others that are in another category altogether.

In all three of these ‘baskets’ of shootings, the mechanisms for investigating, litigating, and bringing to justice any bad actors or even criminals within the system has massive systemic concerns. That system of broken justice is what most people calling for reforms are talking about with regard to these police shootings.

Number one, the people investigating and collecting evidence in these cases are the colleagues of the shooter, the police. This has obvious concerns for evidence collection, with potential tampering, and for loss of vital key evidence.  
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Secondly, the prosecution of these cases is often led by those who have a direct working relationship with those involved in the shooting, the police. These prosecutors require the cooperation of the police in nearly every case that comes before them. These prosecutors require these same police to cooperate with their investigation, an investigation that could lead to charges of one of their own. An investigation that could lead to prosecution and conviction in a court of law. 

Therein, lies the astounding array of conflicts of interest.

Lastly, the judges overseeing these cases have a natural bias in favor of these law enforcement officials. They don’t often question the veracity of statements made by officers or other officials. Police are often called in criminal cases, so these judges naturally see the police as better witnesses. 
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Police are also more experienced at being witnesses. They take notes because they have to as a part of their job. They should have better memory retention in the midst of stress. All of these notes are available to them leading up to testifying. 

All of this creates the systemic concerns that citizens have regarding police accountability, especially the families that have loved ones shot and killed by police. 

And, no, I’m not anti-police. Anything but. It’s through not acknowledging the real practical issues and concerns of citizens that these problems continue to persist and in some communities worsen.

Nowhere in what I just outlined am I suggesting that police are actively circumventing the justice system. I’m simply examining the serious conflicts of interest that exist, the serious and legitimate concerns that many people in the public not only have but know firsthand actually happen.
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BLM is not about blocking traffic or about violence in the street. That doesn’t mean that in the heat of the loss of life of a community member some protestors don’t take to the street and get caught up in the moment. Many of those same people are arrested, fined, or worse end up with injuries. This doesn’t mean that actual criminals don’t take advantage of the chaos surrounding a protest and commit real crimes.

Painting BLM for the bad acts or crimes of a minority of their protestors or of real criminals taking advantage of the chaos surrounding a protest would be the same as painting all cops for the bad acts of the slimmest of minority within their ranks.

Let’s not paint people with broad brushstrokes. Let’s reform the system. Let’s make us all more accountable. Let’s protect our police and the public. Let’s move forward together. 

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