By Sal Bommarito
In a perfect world, there would be no racial tension and our police force would never use excess force. But, our world is far from perfect.
In recent days, two young black men died tragically while being arrested. These incidents unleashed a wave of protest from the African American community that is convinced that police treat them abusively. Social activists around the country have declared war on police departments, however, all of the facts in these situations have not yet been revealed.
A 2012 Department of Justice study of juvenile delinquency indicates that black youths commit more crimes per capita than white youths by a wide margin. This is not new information. Yet, activists turn away from the realities and duress of urban life and their impact on black behavior. Rather, they chose to focus on police abuses, not the societal issues that cause some black youths to misbehave. Whenever a tragedy involving a black child and a white cop occurs, the rebel-rousers are on the scene. They do not give equal time to the reasons for discontent and violence.
There is no excuse for aggressive police action unless violence is inevitable. Protests that include arson, looting and shooting by out of control crowds are not the type of responses that will help the African American community in their efforts to improve their lives.
High crime areas generally are rife with broken homes, poverty, unemployment, poor education and boredom. Perhaps, African American spokespeople should focus more on these social and economic realities rather than on one off incidents that involve the police, as sad as each one of them is.
Police departments make poor decisions that infuriate the African American community and should be taken to task. Stop and frisk decreases crime, but the civil liberties implications of this tactic are overwhelming, and so stop and frisk has been watered down or halted in most places, a major victory for African Americans in their minds.
Police departments should not be 90% white in cities and towns that are 90% black. And, every police officer should be trained in the use of appropriate force and the rights of suspects. When behavior is in violation of the rules, police officials should pay a price. Training has been increased in place like New York City, another victory for African Americans.
Unfortunately, provocateurs created a dangerous environment in Ferguson. Across the nation, a large number of citizens (African Americans) believe that they are at odds with a group (the police) that is supposed to protect them. Every day, honest cops risk their lives and do a great job all things considered. The least accusers should do is to give investigators a chance to collect all the facts before demanding someone’s head on a stick.
None of involved parties distinguished themselves in the Ferguson tragedy. The Governor of Missouri rushed to judgment, while the Lieutenant Governor criticized his boss (they belong to different political parties). The police suited up for an all out war and used tear gas and rubber bullets, reminiscent of 1960s overreaction by police. The media aired confrontations between the police and the rioting crowds regularly on TV and in the newspapers. Some protesters looted stores and set fires in their own neighborhood.
In a perfect world, local, state and federal investigators would collect information rapidly and inform the public of their findings soon after.
In a perfect world, the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would stay away from Ferguson; their presence and rhetoric often times incite the disgruntled to act violently.
In a perfect world, the media would limit the coverage of violence and not make editorial comments, which inspire rioting.
In a perfect world, every American would be treated fairly including African Americans and police officers.
In a perfect world, we would no longer have racial tension in America.