Protesting the Police? Don’t Be Prejudiced While Screaming “Prejudice!”

The United States of America is a family of citizens and, not unlike your own family, has its problems. Just because Aunty Erline gets drunk and calls the neighbor outside of his name doesn’t mean your whole family is racist or lacks good sense. I would say the same for our country … and for our police force, which is made up of individual people with their own thoughts, attitudes, and idiosyncrasies.

Summarily protesting all Americans, police officers, judges, or government officials for the treatment of some of our fellow citizens is not reasonable. Statistically, there must be millions of interactions between law enforcement personnel, including police officers, and citizens in any given year in this nation – with the vast majority of them going smoothly. Yet, we are taking a miniscule portion of that number and injecting it with social and mainstream media’s emotional steroids to create a larger than life belief that police are systematically singling out and killing people of color in record numbers. Raw data would show that is a very, very rare occurrence.

Now, before you become inflamed with outrage, hear me out. I am in no way excusing racially motivated behavior, excessive use of violence, or any form of murder. I quickly acknowledge the presence of cruel and racist behavior by some people in our country. I do not, however, accept that the number of those people is so egregious that we must paint all those in authority as racists.

The truth is, even one incidence where an innocent person is killed by a police officer is a tragedy for the victim’s family and for us all as a nation. This should not happen. It must be addressed with appropriate consequences and corrective action. We must also consider the toll it must take on the officer himself and his family; taking a life is a traumatic event that must not be taken lightly, on any level.

Where we lose sight of the tragedy is when it is used as a weapon of division and hate, loaded with emotion and pointed at society as a whole. Instead of dealing with the specific incident, it is shuffled into a deck of similar incidences and dealt out to all police officers, regardless of their own personal opposition to the situation. Ironically, the call to stop prejudice against civilians is aiming prejudice at police officers. All black folk are not criminals and all cops are not killers. Are we crying foul while simultaneously fouling others with the same injustice we abhor?

The nature of prejudice is to take a group of people with similar attributes, perhaps physical or cultural, and believe they are all the same. Any thinking person knows that is impossible: we are all unique beings. Directing hate, judgement, or random violence on police officers as a group is the same as assuming all minorities are criminals. Both are prejudiced and wrong. Every person and every interaction needs to be assessed on its own merit, regardless of how similar or different it may be from others.

Police officers have – and continue – to save lives, offer assistance and comfort in times of danger, and risk their own safety to protect the lives of strangers. These are facts that cannot, and should not, be overlooked or mitigated by the tragic actions, poor judgements or unintentional behaviors of some. To create an environment in which law enforcement officers are challenged, disrespected, and hated can only create or exacerbate already volatile conditions. Our police officers are called into disturbing situations, in potentially unfamiliar places, with unknown people who have unknown intentions and are expected to what? Predict the moment by moment unfolding of the situation? Even with constant training, each situation is unique and dependent on many factors to determine its outcome.

Perhaps we can make it easier by seeing police officers first as people with families, friends, feelings, and daily problems just like everyone else. Law enforcement in America, like her population, is represented by all walks of life: varying cultures, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and birthplaces. Next, we can acknowledge the authority given them by each of us in our society. This may help us to behave in respectful and peaceful ways that don’t challenge and provoke officers to fear us or question our motives.

Lastly, if you are one who cannot or will not accept any of these suggestions for basic human interaction, perhaps you shouldn’t call the police at all, and just hope you never need protection from other people who think like you.

#notafraidtothink #bringbackrespect #reunifyourcountry

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