After viewing a “police brutality” compilation video It became alarming to me (actually it didn’t) that so many can be quick to judge and point the finger based upon a video clip. If one-to-two minute long cell phone videos were evidence enough, there would be no trial, these investigations wouldn’t take as long. Yes, there are some instances in which the video can tell all, and those are pertinent to the success of the cases in which they are involved in. But shouldn’t we take into account what has gone on before or after that minute or so window in which the actions are captured? As a filmmaker I follow a simple rule, “Using your lens, only show the audience what you want them to see”. This couldn’t be any more true, as we only perceive what is shown through the lens, and are quick to use that as a crutch to defend what is right or wrong. However, how do we really know what has occurred prior to the rolling cell phone cameras? What if the individual being approached by the officer has a previous history of violence, has just mugged someone, and has been said to be carrying a weapon. Now you are the police officer responding to this call, and being given this initial information, this most certainly changes your scope on the whole ordeal. You are now dealing with an individual who could potentially bring harm to you, and prevent you from going home to your family. Once that individual begins to act volatile, or even reaches into his back pocket will you take the risk, and ease up? Or are you going to protect yourself at all costs? From that point on, all we see is a video of a man reaching in his pocket, and a police officer firing his weapon. This individual could be reaching for a gun, or a wallet, either way it can help us to understand why the officer discharged his weapon.
In retrospect, this should never give a human being the right to shoot and kill another human being. Take the above situation and flip it, you are now a man walking down the street from your girlfriends/grandmothers/etc. You are approached violently by officers because you fit the previously depicted profile they are responding to, and see you as a threat. You are confused, and frustrated. An officer approaches you, and as you get to your knees, he aggressively drags you to the floor as 3-4 other officers bury their hands, knees, and feet into your body. First words, “DON’T RESIST!” Your tense body tries not to as a knee is buried into your neck, but you can’t help but wonder, “What is going on?” The officer applying the cuffs twists your wrist the wrong way, and your arms and torso give a natural jerking reaction to try and ease the pain. Two phrases ring out, “STOP RESISTING!” “HE’S REACHING!”. In that moment an onslaught begins. You fit a profile, and out of fear for their own safety, no consideration is given on any level.
This is geared towards the non-criminals who have been wrongfully detained, beaten, or even killed by a member of the police. The system has set us up to play the cat and mouse game. Is the safety of an officer, for the disregard of civilian rights and life a fair trade off? When you place two individuals in a struggle for their life, and you give one a badge, what is the other left with? He cannot struggle or question the “authority” otherwise he may risk being labeled as “resisting”, and become subject to being hit repeatedly or maybe even shot. He is helpless, and frustrated. All based upon assumptions and fear of the man with a badge. I thought we were taught growing up, that it was okay to say “No.” The system teaches us we can’t, and conceding is the “safest way”. If you feel as though something is wrong, shouldn’t you be able to defend yourself from it. And please note the context in which I said, DEFEND.
We are all flawed, even police officers. I like to believe that mostly everything is a judgement, spur of the moment call. And that judgement differs from officer to officer, as it does from person to person. I have been a subject of stereotyping, and a wrongful arrest. I’ve witnessed firsthand, the abuse of that authority. But I fall into a category just like any other police/civilian incident. The category of identification. We DON’T know all the facts, We hardly ever will know all the facts. If we search for the facts we may gain a better understanding. But as you do, be sure to formulate an unbiased, educated opinion and stand by it. At the end of the day we are all human beings, living day to day. There are good people, there are bad people. There are good cops, there are bad cops. Its an identification crisis that will unfortunately transcend generations to come. Some more compassion in our world can help us all get by, with no harm done to one another. But in all reality, how can we truly overcome this together?
"Identification". What you see, or hear, is most certainly not always what you get in the eyes of ANY individual.