What Do We Do About This?

I am sick at heart at seeing another unarmed black man being killed by the police. In the US legal system, a person is innocent until proven guilty but watching that video of a person kneeling on another’s neck long after they’ve passed out is enraging. It doesn’t make it any better that it was a policeman that did it, it makes it much worse. These are people we have given the job of protecting us, and they need to be held to a higher standard. It’s like finding your babysitter tasering your kids.

There is no justification. It does not matter what George Floyd may or may not have done. There is literally nothing a person could do in Minnesota (which doesn’t have the death penalty) to be executed by the judicial system. Even in places that do have capital punishment, there are extremely stringent rules regarding it, including a lengthy appeals process, yet we have just accepted the idea that police can carry out extra-judicial killings whenever they want. I’m not trying to be flippant: if you look at past instances of police killing unarmed black men, the reasons they were killed include running from the police, appearing to run from the police, appearing to have a gun (even where it would have been legal to do so), disrespecting the police, and so on. The fact that George Floyd wasn’t shot doesn’t make it any better. It’s still unjustified force being recklessly wielded.

The problem isn’t new, of course. It’s smart phones that are new and the ability to record and bring out in full daylight what used to happen in the shadowy world of my-word-against-yours and I-do-not-recall. The problem is probably much better than it was fifty years ago, but that’s no reason to accept it as normal.

I’ve read several articles calling on white people not to be just not racist but to be actively anti-racist. I totally agree, but I don’t know what that necessarily means. If I thought that standing by the road with a Black Lives Matter sign would help, I would do that. Maybe I should anyway. I was glad that the officer responsible was arrested, but that’s not really the issue. The issue of police violence is a systemic one. If you don’t think this is a problem, imagine that your son or daughter or mother or father was killed by the police, just for the suspicion that they were up to something. If your first thought was, “That would never happen; we’re white,” that only proves the point.

Some problems are infuriating because it is clear what is needed to fix them, and yet because of political issues or something else, it won’t get fixed. This is infuriating for the opposite reason: I have no idea what would fix it beyond some pretty huge systemic changes, such as much stricter gun control so police don’t feel like they are going into a war zone every time they go to work

All I know is that the police killing their citizens on a fairly regular basis, especially one particular portion of the population, is not normal and it has to change. This doesn’t happen in most other countries and Americans cannot accept it either. I don’t put much faith in politicians to change things, but if I have to call my representatives every day, maybe I should. If you have any other ideas, let me know.

Although I am posting this on my religion/philosophy blog, I don’t think this is a religious issue. It’s a human issue, but I think Christians should definitely make their voices heard. Matthew 25:31-46 doesn’t say anything specifically about the killing of unarmed people, but the message of “I was in trouble and you did nothing/did something” is pretty clear. I’m not usually very vocal online about things that might be controversial, but I can’t keep silent. If you think the problem is more nuanced or that I am flat-out wrong, that is okay. But I need to do something and this post is the first step.