Reverse Course on Police Militarization or Reap the Whirlwind
Let me make it clear from the outset of this article: I’m against violence and killing, and I’m certainly no advocate of killing police officers.
But having said that, it must be stated that the combination of a national gun culture that makes obtaining guns and deadly bullets as easy as buying a newspaper, combined with the increasing availability of videocam evidence of infuriating police murders of innocent, unarmed people, including kids, is a recipe for the kind of vigilantism that we just witnessed in New York City, where a Baltimore man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, took it upon himself to wreak what he considered deserved vengeance on the NYPD by randomly selecting and assassinating two New York cops sitting in their squad car.
Random acts of retributive violence like this are only to be expected when you have police treating the public -- and especially certain segments of the public, notably people of color -- like presumptive criminals or a people under occupation.
This is not a question of right or wrong. Hell, the two policemen killed by the apparently mentally distubed Brinsley, ironically a Chinese and a Latino cop, had nothing to do with the killing of Eric Garner, a black man, by white police officer Daniel Pantaleo. It’s simply a reality: If the growing murderousness and thuggishness of some (especially white) police behavior towards people of color, and towards the public in general, continues in this country, it is totally predictable that such acts of vengeance or vigilantism will increase, perhaps even becoming more focused to target the actual perpetrators of unjustified homicides, such as the recent killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Garner in New York and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, should their uniformed killers be given a free pass by prosecutors.
We all know why Darren Wilson, the Ferguson cop who killed the unarmed 19-year-old Brown with shots to the head when he clearly posed no threat to the officer, has left the department. This was not a decision based upon concerns about community relations; if he had tried to remain a police officer in Ferguson, Wilson would have had to work every day wearing full body armor, and backed by an armed escort.