By Rachel Sunshine
This week has culminated, once again, in loud calls for retaliation against police brutality and excessive/lethal force across the United States. As video surfaces of police trying to shoot an Autistic 23 year old man with a toy truck- instead shooting a fully complying therapist laying down next to and trying to talk the man out of suicide- anger and calls to action against police brutality and excessive force have ripped through the online community, which is still trying to come to terms with the fatal shootings of two men and a young, unarmed teen in late June and early July. So far, there have been an estimated 643 fatal police shootings of citizens in 2016, with at least 60 fatal police shootings in the month of July alone, meaning that nearly 3 citizens have been killed every day by police across the country since the beginning of the month. In contrast, according to Operation Enduring Freedom at iCasualties.org, there have only been a total of 4 American Soldier deaths by combat in this entire year.
Some have believed the police shootings to be justified and have expressed outrage that the police have received blowback for what seems to be indiscriminate use of fatal force. Individual Officers have even gone so far as to state they are at war with the people they serve and that they are under attack, as vigilantes have targeted police in several retaliatory shootings across the country in Dallas, Baton Rouge and Columbus, so far, killing at least 8 police officers since the beginning of July. Facebook user, Linda Marie Jourdain asks of those that do not feel sympathy for the officers, “Why can’t People (sic) just have respect for authority. It’s sad that they don’t get enough.”
It may be because continued release of footage- a compilation of videos from the month of July too long to list- of police brutality and excessive force shows that police are, in fact the ones preemptively planning to attack the citizenry, as you can plainly see in the fatal shooting of 19 year old Fresno teenager, Dylan Noble, and in new footage surfacing this week showing activists that had been protesting at the Republican National Convention getting raided in a form of intimidation early in the morning by police and federal agents who did not have a warrant. In the shooting death of Philip Castille, recordings of the conversations between the police officer and dispatcher apparently indicate that he was pulled over for having a wide-set nose.
In newly-released footage by the Fresno Police Department from the second officer’s body cam, police are seen to already have their guns drawn while still driving down the street, in a long moment, pointing the gun at the back of Noble’s head after turning sirens on to pull the teen’s truck over just 25 seconds before that for excessive speeding. In what I am now deeming Aggravated Panic, police already had their guns unholstered and were even dangerously driving with one hand on the wheel while simultaneously holding a loaded police-issued gun in the obviously premeditated death of unarmed Noble. Once pulled over, Noble is almost immediately shot for “not complying” with the officers that had just pointed a gun at the back of his head moments before while waiting for him to pull over. The Fresno police chief is stating that we should understand what was going through the policemen’s heads when they shot Noble two more times while he lay bleeding on the ground, as, apparently, Noble had reached for a clear plastic square that the officers have not yet shown to the public. Noble was not armed on his person, nor was there any weapon in his vehicle.
Earlier this week, police awaken Brittany Om with guns drawn in the morning in her motel room that she and other activists were staying in while protesting the Republican National Convention. In a show of pure intimidation, police even state that they will not be back if the protestors do not come back to the Convention, an obvious attempt to use their position of authority to silence those practicing their First Amendment Rights. In the video, Law enforcement was recorded, telling them, “If you don’t want to see us again, stay away from the RNC.”
In the case of Philip Castille- a man fatally shot Fourth of July weekend during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota- new evidence has surfaced that he was shot at point-blank range for having a wide-set nose. His girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter watched helplessly next to him in the vehicle. His girlfriend then live-streamed the aftermath directly to Facebook, where it was removed shortly after by Facebook authorities, also known as the Facebook Police.
Also this week, footage from May surfaced of a man fully complying with police after taking them on a high-speed chase through multiple states and ending in New Hampshire. As he laid down on the ground, a mob of policemen ran toward him and started pummeling him, kicking him, and beating him with their batons. It was all captured by a media helicopter, catching the beating on live footage.
These are just a few instances that have made the news over the past month. Police have been using war rhetoric against the citizenry for over three decades; The War on Drugs and the War on Poverty have turned into a War on the Poor and Middle Class.
We now have a War of Fatal Force, where police have taken it upon themselves to be judge, jury and executioner. In a society that has developed countless non-lethal forms of weaponry such as gases and sprays, sticky foam, bean bags and rubber bullets, electroshock weapons and directed energy weapons there is no need for police to be shooting citizens to death 3 times a day, period. With only 8 police casualties this year directly attributed to the retaliation against use of lethal force against the citizenry, it’s entirely up to the officers to find a solution that could help the escalating situation resolve in a peaceful call to put down arms. As concerned citizen Eric Wilson states, “I would expect the people in positions of power to hold themselves to a higher regard than those they are serving. Having the ability to be judge, jury and executioner without accountability is where much of the anger comes from fellow citizens. Their ‘job’ is to give every person their ‘day in court.’ As the initiator of conflict, I would expect them to be experts in conflict resolution, and not further escalate already tense interactions.”
The future for the safety of citizenry from police use of lethal force will look grim until police learn to use non-lethal force discriminately as a form of conflict resolution, and it would be no surprise to continue seeing police casualty numbers rise by as much as 75% over the coming months, as citizens finally start defending themselves in the War of Fatal Force.
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