BY DANNISH ODONGO
I’m extremely saddened by the video that surfaced on social media platforms where black teenagers were allegedly beleaguered by the police over the weekend in a Texas suburb while attending a birthday party. The neighbors allegedly called the police because “there were too many black people around.” But as it later emerged in another video that surfaced, chaos erupted at the pool party and that necessitated the calling of cops in the neighborhood.
This article addresses the use of excessive force and abusive language by the involved cops that escalated the incident. The action of one specific cop in this incident reveals yet again the extent of lawlessness that is rampant within the police force in the USA.
It’s hard to comprehend the level of trauma those teenagers went through in the hands of those who were supposed to protect them. While I understand that Americans are capable of solving their own issues, there must never be a time when we fail to protest an injustice even though we might be powerless to prevent it. The world is growing into a global village and as members of the same race, we must stand in solidarity with anyone who is being oppressed regardless of where they come from. As Martin Luther King Jnr. said, ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
I have said many times before that my perception of Americans has always been good. For the most part, they seem to be a pleasant, knowledgeable and confident bunch with an appreciation for democracy and all the socio-political ideals that flow from it. So when I saw the rogue cop going on a rampage like an incensed bull and goring down his unarmed teenage victims, for a second, I struggled to reconcile my lofty perception of the US and the reality that was flashing before my disbelieving eyes. It is disgustingly shameful for those who have sworn to protect people and their property to be the very same ones who violate the rights of the innocent defenceless youth.
First of all, against their will, these people were packed like animals in inhumane conditions as they were ferried from Africa as slaves. Some of them left productive land behind, they were separated from their loved ones, others died along the way. When they landed in the hands of their slave masters, whipping, execution and sexual abuse of women became the order of the day. To assert dominance and crush the rebellion, they were whipped, shackled, hanged, beaten, burned, mutilated and branded like cattle. They never came to America willfully. The least that can be done to right the wrongs of history is to stand against any police brutality targeting this community.
Erick Garner was 43 years old and unarmed when a rogue policeman pounced on him and choked his now famous last words out of him, “I can’t breath” in July 2014. Mr. Garner died in front of the world’s disbelieving eyes. Michael Brown, an unarmed teen, fell victim to police brutality in August 2014 when he was killed by a white cop. His death sparked violent protests in Fergusson, Missouri. It appears that even the mentally ill can’t escape the bloodthirsty police force in the US as Ezell Ford, a 25 year old schizophrenic, was shot 3 times in August 2014 despite being unarmed.
In November 2014, a bullet from a rogue cop in Cleveland Ohio felled a 12 year old boy, Tamir Rice. In April 2015, Walter Scott was shot in North Charleston, South Carolina while trying to run away from a white cop. He was unarmed. His only mistake was running for his life because the likelihood of a black man dying in the hands of a white cop is as frequent as the need for call of nature. Freddie Gray, 25 years old died while in police custody from multiple injuries (including a severed spine) caused by a violent and brutal arrest by the police. As we say in Kenya, “Force is the tool for fools”
To a person who is insensitive and cold, the above examples can easily be viewed as statistics. These people were fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and citizens. The desire of every man is to be productive and to live a fulfilled life, snuffing out that desire from a man is beastly. These people had goals, dreams, ambitions and hopes.
Its inane to suggest that such excessive use of force by police officers against the black community is justifiable on the ground that policemen are automatically conditioned to be extra cautious while dealing with members of this community which has traditionally been associated with a propensity for violent crime.
The saddest bit about the video is the recklessness with which the cop handled the teens. I was infuriated by how this rogue cop unleashed misplaced energy on the helpless youngsters. Specifically, his use of brutal force to arrest an unarmed young girl, was uncalled for. His use of profanity against young children was particularly shameless and a reflection of the hateful condition of his heart. I couldn’t help but notice how racially selective this cop was choosing which kids to arrest. It’s like his only basis of judging who was culpable or not was the skin color of the kids and being black was a key indicator of certain criminal intent.
Things almost turned tragic when the policeman pulled a gun on some of the teenagers who were trying to protect their friends from his violent outbursts. These teenagers exhibited more courage than the three cops in this clip combined.
Apart from the friends of this girl who tried to help in vain, the crowd just stood there without doing much to help the situation. In fact, one white man in blue jeans shorts and a tucked in T-shirt just stood there and walked away. This apathy towards suffering of others shows how cold the hearts of men have become.
I don’t know how a grown man, possibly a husband and father can unleash his unholy masculinity on a young girl. How will this lady ever respect the police after being so brutally violated? Instead of using his violent energy to fight crime, this depraved psychotic cop chose to direct his energies on a young and innocent girl. Shame on him one more time. It’s easy to casually dismiss the suffering of others where one is unaffected by it but imagine if such injustice were to be poured out on your wife, sister or daughter, how would you feel? Let’s make the suffering of others our own and speak out against senseless violence wherever it rears its ugly head and maybe, just maybe, the world will one day be a better place.
The cop who was accused of using excessive force in this video has since resigned. Read: Policeman who pulled gun at Texas pool party resigns