You likely missed the story because it was drowned out by post-election coverage, but there was a mistrial in Cincinnati in the case of the officer who shot an unarmed man, for no apparent reason. Yes it was a white officer, yes the victim was a black man, yes it was caught on video, yes the officer initially lied about what happened and yes the outcome was the same as it always is: no consequences for the officer.
A man interviewed by the local news station said something along the lines of, "We're trying to remain peaceful, but if we keep being peaceful and this keeps happening, there's only so much we can take."
I heard his pain. His words are one of my greatest fears. Retribution will solve nothing, yet I wonder how long people will be satisfied with simply pressing charges or with protesting if nothing changes? Being a policeman is a dangerous job. No one should dispute that, but let's be real. Being a policeman isn't the most dangerous job in America. In fact, it isn't even top 5. But that isn't the issue either. The issue is that our police seem to be trigger happy and there are few, if any, consequences associated with causing the unnecessary death of another person. This isn't a black/white issue. Police are killing people of all races, granted minorities are statistically their favorite targets, but their aim is not limited to minorities.
I live in an open carry state, and I have contemplated purchasing a fire arm and learning how to use it, but I always talk myself out of it for two reasons: 1) guns scare me and I don't want to be near them and 2) there is an unspoken code that black people are not allowed to own guns. Yes, black people are legally allowed to own guns, but it's in their best interest if they don't because the police have the right to shoot first and ask questions later, even in an open carry state (see John Crawford III) or have a permit to carry your gun (see Philandro Castile).
I can tell you right now, that I already know how the scenario will play out if I owned a gun: I'll be in my car one day. I'll have my gun in a lock box in the trunk. The gun will be unloaded. I'll get pulled over by a policeman who is having a bad day. Maybe I'll make a sudden move towards my wallet or my glove compartment and the color of my skin will make the policeman more likely to shoot. If he kills me, the headline will be "Gun Recovered from the Scene" and there will be only a small footnote that explains that the gun was unloaded, stored in a lock box and all the way in the trunk. People will ignore the footnote because I'm black and therefore, I am a walking super human threat. It's possible that I might have somehow ripped off my seat belt, magically transported myself to the back of the car, grabbed the gun, unlocked the box, loaded the bullets then taken a shot at the officer before he had a chance to react. I say this because I remember the story of a black guy who was handcuffed in the back of a patrol car, but somehow managed to reach the secret gun that the police missed then shoot himself in the back with it.
Now I have to say that I believe most police are good people and even many of the police officers who have shot unarmed people are good people who reacted badly to a situation. That said, police should not be above the law. I'm all for them getting less time than a regular citizen, but I'm certainly not on board with them getting no time at all when their actions have result in what appears to be an unnecessary loss of life. I think that better training, more body cams and more community based policing will reduce the number of negative interactions, but there are quite a few cases that are proving that body cams or other video evidence means next to nothing in cases involving policemen.
How many more people have to die before we call for true reform?