Justice for Some: Systemic Abuse of African American Community by Police and Criminal Justice System
Chicagoans brought anger peacefully to the streets because they have lost faith in our law enforcement. Regardless of whether one agrees with the protests, for this system to function properly a trust must exist between law enforcement and the people they are paid to protect.
Article published by rebootillinois.com on 12/09/2014
By Brian T. Murphy; Photo: Associated Press.
There are a few misconceptions as to why citizens are currently fighting for civil rights in Chicago’s streets. The reasons have less to due with the recent deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and 12-year old Tamir Rice at the hands of police. The details of these cases can be debated, but in the bigger picture they are irrelevant. Consider this:
African Americans comprise approximately 12% of the US population, while they make up nearly 44% of our prison population. Roughly 1 of 15 African American males go to prison compared to 1 of 106 white males. Therefore, either 1) African Americans are more prone to crime, or 2) the criminal justice system has in some way become biased toward putting black human beings in prison.
Citizens are blocking Lake Shore Drive because they are angry. Regardless of whether an unarmed Trayvon Martin was aggressive toward a fellow Floridian, or whether an unarmed Michael Brown charged toward a police officer, or whether an unarmed Eric Garner was “resisting arrest” after being suspected of selling individual cigarettes on the street, or whether a 12-year old boy was shot to death in a playground for holding a toy gun, the fact remains: it is statistically more dangerous to be a black male interacting with the police. This stands as an egregious violation of civil rights and should unite people of all political philosophies.
However several in the media, backed by substantial public support, criticize efforts to call attention to the notion that there is a significant problem within our law enforcement. It’s commonly suggested that protesters should focus their anger toward black on black violence, which is far more prevalent than racial abuse by police. But this is a false equivalency (not to mention the nearly identical rates of white on white violence, highlighting the county's vast segregation). Just as people don’t block intersections to protest child abuse, they also typically don’t use this to stand up against violent crime between civilians. People are protesting aggression that directly stems from the police, who are paid to protect us. Thus, as a last resort peaceful civil disobedience is the primary call to arms against such violations.
The main obstacle to achieving equal rights under our law is shifting public opinion on this matter, by teaching that perception is not a substitution for fact. Though it appears that justice is blind to race, and that we all perceive the police force to be virtuous, it is immoral to ignore these statistics as they glaringly highlight a momentous racial disparity between the treatment of whites and blacks under our law. Accepting these statistics while claiming that our law enforcement system is fair toward all is an untenable position.
Chicagoans brought anger peacefully to the streets because they have lost faith in our law enforcement. Regardless of whether one agrees with the protests, for this system to function properly a trust must exist between law enforcement and the people they are paid to protect. And given the aforementioned numbers, there is no reason or factual foundation for this trust to exist. Therefore, it is the duty of the police to address this and until these numbers change, it is reasonable to expect peaceful civil unrest, driven by anger that all US citizens are in fact not equal.