When Protect and Serve Goes Awry

justice_for_tamir

“…I don’t want my child to have died for nothing and I refuse to let his legacy or his name be ignored. We will continue to fight for justice for him, and for all families who must live with the pain that we live with.

As the video shows, Officer Lochmann shot my son in less than a second. All I wanted was someone to be held accountable. But this entire process was a charade. I pray and hope that the federal government will investigate this case.”

Samaria Rice, Tamir’s mother

On April 11, 2015 the Washington Post’s headline reads, “Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.”  Cleared and/or acquitted, what does that mean, let’s take a look and the process of committing a crime, the court system of dealing with the alleged assailant and what happens to police officers.  First the article claims that the stats only represent a small fraction of shootings and that of the 54 cases the majority are cases where the victim was unarmed.  The methodology is as follows:

The 54 criminal prosecutions were identified by Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip M. Stinson and The Washington Post. Cases were culled from news reports, grand jury announcements and news releases from prosecutors. For individual cases, reporters obtained and reviewed thousands of pages of court records, police reports, grand jury indictments, witness testimony and video recordings. Dozens of prosecutors and defense attorneys in the cases were interviewed, along with legal experts, officers who were prosecuted and surviving relatives of the shooting victims.

The article further goes on to state that two things must occur before a prosecutor will charge an officer they are (1) during the shooting an egregious event must have occurred and; (2)  the prosecutor must be, “.. willing to hang their reputation on.”  Lastly, even if the 2 conditions are met, it’s the jury that decides on the punishment which the not likely to do because of the role of the police officer – “guardian”.

Occupy.com ran a story in May 2013 which provided the following stats and further goes on to identify the killings as oppression Black folk face along with Operation Ghetto Storm’s conclusion that it is a practice of institutional racism since the enslavement of Black Africans and that in order to maintain the “institution” it must recruit “repressive enforcement.”  The study further includes that some victims were mentally challenged or addicts – who may not have been killed if the community members were involved versus the police.

While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population. Even though African-Americans use or sell drugs about the same rate as whites, they are 2.8 to 5.5 times more likely to be arrested for drugs than whites. Black offenders also receive longer sentences compared to whites. Most offenders are in prison for nonviolent drug offenses

“Alarmed by the following statements-

“Police recruitment, training, policies, and overall racism within society conditions police (and many other people) to assume black people are violent to begin with.”

“…The fact that a black person is killed by a police officer, security guard, or vigilante every 28 hours (or less) is no random act of nature. It is the inevitable result of institutional racism and militaristic tactics and thinking within America’s domestic security apparatus.”

Over the years I have heard angry Black men and women identify the police as racist, rude, arrogant and crooked.  These descriptors came from folk who had at one broken the law, was recently released from jail or were on their way to incarceration.  While yet another group of folk I talked with indicated that if the person is an alleged drug dealer, thief, rapist or what have you they are facing the consequences of their behavior(s) or the behavior of folks they keep company with.  Interesting how the same incident when viewed from a different lens will produce such a dichotomy.

Who are the police and what is their role in our society today?  To answer that question, let us take a look at the history of those who have chosen to protect and serve and the progression of this profession from the English influence of Sir Robert Peel and Colonial America.   An English term known as “kin police” was used to define people who were responsible for overseeing their relatives. Later the responsibility moved from Individual citizens to groups of men living in the community known as “frankpledge system”-

In medieval England, frankpledge was a system of law enforcement and policing in which members of society were mutually responsible for the behavior of their peers. The system included everyone in the community, but the highest nobility and their households.

The origins of frankpledge may stretch as far back as early Anglo-Saxon England, when a rudimentary jury system allowed for an accused man’s neighbor and peers to vouch for his innocence or guilt.

This system of policing was mirrored in America in which constables, sheriffs and citizen-based watch groups were responsible for policing the colonies.

Did You Know:  Law enforcement was not the top priority because there was no option to collect taxes.

Which brings us to the first Metropolitan Police organization created on September 29, 1829 whose role was to manage social conflict, resulting from urbanization and industrialization in London by Sir Robert Peel.  Peel believed the role of the police should be to prevent crime versus detecting it after it occurred; sounds a bit like the plot of the movie, “The Minority Report”.  A detective thriller set in Washington, D.C. in 2054, where police utilize a psychic technology to arrest and convict murderers before they commit a crime.  In medieval England, frankpledge was a system of law enforcement and policing in which members of society were mutually responsible for the behavior of their peers. The system included everyone in the community, but the highest nobility and their households.

Peel also thought in order for the new Metropolitan Police to be viewed as legitimate, there were some principles that needed to be understood: They must be under government control, have military-like organization and a central headquarters locally located in the community.  The men should wear uniforms, with badge numbers be even tempered and disciplined would make the best police officers. Sounds great until the influx of immigrant groups in the 1700s – hence the term “melting pot” in the late 1700s of Germans, Irish and Italians provided growth in population and an increase in social disorder.  Racial and ethnic conflict had become a problem; this social climate initiated another form of policing which could no longer be managed by the current establishment.

Slave patrols or “paddyrollers” first emerged in South Carolina was the first publicly funded police agency designed to manage the race based conflict in the south.  They were created to specifically maintain the slave population and their responsibilities later extended to White indentured servants.  Three principal duties were to:

  1. Searches of slave lodges;
  2. Keeping slaves off the roadways;
  3. Disassembling meetings organized by slaves;

Known for their brutality and this type of policing remained in effect until after slavery ended – or did it? Of course not the Ku Klux Klan emerged to control the African American slaves/citizens along with the federal military and the state militia who were even more violent than the “slave patrol”.  Some believe the slave patrol was the first attempt at policing while others believe it began in New York in 1845, St Louis in 1846, Chicago in 1845 and Los Angeles in 1869 and others, it should be noted they kept (3) characteristics from England – 1.  Limited police authority; 2. Local control and 3. Fragmented law enforcement, which caused communication problems and still do today.

 

Did you know:  The relationship between politics and the police were such that not only did politicians hire police officers to protect their political power the police often encouraged citizen to vote for them.  Do you see a clearer picture now of the role of those hired to protect and serve?  Politicians had direct control over the hiring of police chiefs and consequently the chief was now working for the politician and not the community.  During this era due to the extreme political influence, there were virtually no standards for hiring or training police officers.  Essentially, politicians within each ward would hire men that would agree to help them stay in office and not consider whether they were the most qualified people for the job.

Racism, the concept of racism may be defined in many ways and has long roots (Gullestad 2002). A traditional definition is ‘[the belief] that intellectual, cultural and moral qualities are genetically transmitted among the main racial groupings of mankind, that racial groups can be graded according to these qualities as inferior, with the racialists’ own group at the apex’ (Sherman in Barker 1981:3).  Some folk defines racism as hate among folk of a different color, race, creed, religion, length of hair, street address, attendance and at church, single mothers, penniless fathers and sexual orientation.  Recently, racism has become the almighty definition of police brutality – specifically the shooting of young black armed or unarmed men and women.  Social media known as Facebook and other sites have become the ultimate soap box for concerned citizens to succumb to polluting the video streams with what appears to be police brutality on African Americans.

The question posed, “What about cops who kill?” how should the police who commit extensive violent acts to include the murder of armed and unarmed citizens be harnessed.   What seems to be a rash of killings among young black men should serve as reason enough to engage in providing resolution or a process of achieving “justice” for the families of those who were slain.  Unfortunately, there are so many variables in the catalyst for the police involvement, variances in police patrol from state to state and so many theories proposed to curb the damaging behavior I can only add information to this complex 21st century issue.  Based on my findings, it is the jurors who are reluctant to convict as they are not willing   to convict the person responsible to “Protect and Serve”, coupled with intense media coverage before the trial, high stakes situation, the behavior of the community immediately after the incident, whether that is violence or verbal pre-determined that the deceased is a “victim” before the body is removed from the location.

Throughout history there have been organizations designed to protect the innocent and regulations designed to protect the innocent who are guilty.  The Bible tells us, in

Romans 13:1-4 ESV – Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. ..

For those of that have had loved ones killed by those deemed to “protect and serve” until such a time or if such a time presents itself that the management of the police men and women who brutalize or kill unarmed innocent people we must and I implore you we must not take the law into our own hands.  What we can do is go back the roots of our predecessors, each one teach one, each neighbor should police their street neighborhood, look out for one another, talk to one another and most importantly listen.  When and if you find yourself elevated by God, reach back and pull just one with you, it is going to take the strength of each family member to come together and first believe that what happens on the South Side will most assuredly affect the North Side.  I charge each one of us to first break down the racism and division within our own heritage and then perhaps “A Change Gone Come.”

 

Of the 1136 individuals have been killed in 2015 – 578 of them were white, see table below.

Table 1.

People Killed by Police in 2015
Nationality
White 578
Black 301
Hispanic/Latino 193
Other/Unknown 27
Asian/Pacific Islander 24
Native American 13
Gender
Women 53
Men 1081
Unknown 2

 

MsConcerned

 

 

 

 

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Killers Amongst Us

 

Children our greatest resource or are they?  From the elite to the destitute the evolution of children is not just of infant to adult, the hallway in between is a force to be reckoned with.  From baby contest to adult pageants; from little league to the All Star game parents have thrived on the ability of their child to excel.    Where other parents thrive on ensuring their child has the latest Jordan sneakers and an opportunity to pay their way with an entry in the NFL.  On the dark side there are the children who fall by the wayside, are pushed off the beaten path or merely have an acute sense of curiosity that will catapult them to make what may appear to be adult decision.

As I watched a law case on television, the case was about a teen who had obtained her learner’s permit we’ll call her, Cynthia.  The permit allowed Cynthia to drive as long as there was a passenger in the vehicle with a “valid” license.  The teen was out driving and according to her, she became tired and allowed her friend (Dorothy) to drive.  An accident occurred and Dorothy’s father sued Cynthia’s mother.  You see Dorothy did not have a valid license and no one in the vehicle did either.  The mother was angry and thought the father had no reason to file a claim.  The Judge asked the Cynthia’s mother if she was aware that Cynthia was driving the car without an adult who had a valid license in the vehicle.  The mother said yes, I was appalled she said Cynthia was a good driver and she let her drive all the time without someone with a valid license.  The judge proceeded to explain to the mother why children cannot obtain a license to drive until they are of age.  That is because the states feel at a certain age the child is able to make good decisions while operating a car, i.e. they can read and comprehend the rules of the road.

Sure, this story is about driving and the inability of a parent to follow the law and teach her daughter to follow the law.  But then there’s the other side or is it really another side.  A teen boy is driving and kills 4 people the defense attorney claims that not only did the boy suffer from “Affluenza – a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation” but that his parents should not be held accountable either for the death of the 4 people.

Juveniles and the Justice System

The law had defined separate rules for juveniles and adults when it comes to crimes as we may be aware of.  In William Blackstone’s book on the Laws of England, he states for a person to be able to commit a crime they must first have a vicious will and be able to carry out their desire to commit an unlawful act.  Children between the ages of 0 and 13 could not be convicted of a felony because they could not understand their actions.  One of the Juvenile Justice systems’ progenitor was the Stubborn Child Law by the Puritans of Massachusetts in 1646 it reads:

The progression of the Juvenile Justice system (making procedure in juvenile courts look more criminal courts) lands in Cook County, Illinois with a compassionate judge by the name of Julian Mack in the first juvenile court stated:

[The child who must be brought into court should, of course, be made to know that he is face to face with the power of the state, but he should at the same time, and more emphatically, be made to feel that he is the object of its care and solicitude. The ordinary trappings of the courtroom are out of place in such hearings. The judge on a bench, looking down upon the boy standing at the bar, can never evoke a proper sympathetic spirit. Seated at a desk, with the child at his side, where he can on occasion put his arm around his shoulder and draw the lad to him, the judge, while losing none of his judicial dignity, will gain immensely in the effectiveness of his work. Julian Mack, “The Juvenile Court,” Harvard Law Review, vol. 23 (1909), 120.]

Equally the progression of violent crimes by youthful offenders and increased and become darker.  Starting with a 14-year-old Kent, whose crimes were B&E and purse snatching to Erin, who killed her entire family over the inability to go out with her boyfriend to the extreme children killing in schools

 

Feb. 2, 1996
Moses Lake, Wash.
Two students and one teacher killed, one other wounded when 14-year-old Barry Loukaitis opened fire on his algebra class.

 

October 24, 2014
Marysville, Washington
Jaylen Ray Fryberg, a popular freshman at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, opens fire in the cafeteria, killing two students and critically wounding three others before turning the gun on himself.

 

The Eighth Amendment provided protections against excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments; it wasn’t until Betts v. Brady that due process must include a court appointed attorney for those that cannot afford one. This was deemed necessary as a result of the case against Gerald Gault (a white male) in 1967 was a 15 year old sentenced to six years until he turn 21 (an adult would have received a $50 fine) for a prank phone call that was considered obscene.  This case was interesting as the mother was not involved, i.e. she never showed up to court, until after the boy had been sentenced.  The Fourteenth Amendments prevent or should prevent states from enforcing any law which would infringe on the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, or deprive any person life, liberty without due process of the law.

  • Heirens – killed 3 people age 17 – Male Caucasian
  • Bosket – killed 3 people age 16 – Male Black
  • Kempe – killed 10 people age 15 – Male Caucasian
  • Pomeroy – killed over 10 people age 14 – Male Caucasian
  • Bell – killed 2 people age 11 – Female Caucasian

 

Which brings us to today, the case of Christopher Simmons (a white male) at age 17 committed murder, tried by a court as an adult at age 18 and was sentenced to death.  Christopher and his friends went to the victim’s home, to steal and kill, used duct tape over the woman’s mouth and eyes drover her to the river and threw her from the bridge.

The State sought the death penalty. As aggravating factors, the State submitted that the murder was committed for the purpose of receiving money; was committed for the purpose of avoiding, interfering with, or preventing lawful arrest of the defendant; and involved depravity of mind and was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible, and inhuman.  Remember Blackstone’s definition…oh but wait, there more the postconviction defense attorney states:

Simmons was “very immature,” “very impulsive,” and “very susceptible to being manipulated or influenced.” The experts testified about Simmons’ background, including a difficult home environment and dramatic changes in behavior, accompanied by poor school performance in adolescence. Simmons was absent from home for long periods, spending time using alcohol and drugs with other teenagers or young adults. The contention by Simmons’ postconviction counsel was that these matters should have been established in the sentencing proceeding.

Simmons’ sentences were changed from the death penalty to life imprisonment without the eligibility or probation.  The Supreme Court of the US held it unconstitutional to impose capital punishment for crimes committed for persons under the age of 18. Today – Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in Massachusetts opposing the imposition of a mandatory sentence of life without parole on a 16-year-old boy charged with murder. Juvenile Law Center argued that in light of the Supreme Court’s precedent in Roper v. Simmons, the imposition of a life without parole sentence on Mr. Powell was a disproportionate punishment under both the United States and Massachusetts Constitutions.  The Atlanta Black Star reports that the 2012 US Supreme Court ruling on LWOP should be retroactively applied to youths were sentenced before 2012 which would have major implications on Black offenders.

I would be remiss if I did not include the references to murder from the KJV of the Holy Bible.  Numbers 35:16 – 18 And if he smite him with an instrument of iron, so that he die, he is a murderer: the murderer shall surely be put to death.  And if he smite him with throwing a stone or with a hand weapon of wood the murderer shall surely die.  It further states in verse 19 that the revenger of blood himself shall slay the murderer: when he meeteth him, he shall slay him.  Furthermore, the Bible states the parents shall not be put to death for the murderous act, but that every man shall be put to death for his own sin.  Lastly, in the O.T. the sixth Commandment – Thou shalt not kill.  If we were to rely solely upon the Bible all individuals who have committed murder would be executed.  Does that mean to include women who have opted for the procedure known as – abortion?  If we’re going to look at the consequences of murder, we must also look at what the Bible has to say about the child which most assuredly is led by the parent.  Throughout the Bible children have been slain, raised up, cast aside, they were liars and thieves, and some had great devotion to the Lord.  Deuteronomy tells us we should teach our children diligently and talk to them. First Corinthians tell us how the hierarchy of the home should be built, Christ the head of every man which is the head of his wife and even the head of Christ – God. Lastly Titus gives us direction on training our young women, teaching them to love their husbands and children and to be self-controlled. If the world were to follow the teachings in the Bible relative to our children, would we have experienced the rash of killings? I would say we would not have experienced as many killings by our children.  Note, the Bible gives us instructions for our children as a unit composed of not only a husband and a wife, but that of the parents who fear the Lord.  I read that the enemy is always lurking around seeking whom he may devour – it does not say seeking to devour it says whom he may. That tells this writer that even the enemy has some knowledge of who is following the Lord and who is not.  Additionally, we hear or if you have not heard that we are no longer under the dispensation of the law but under the dispensation of grace.  If Jesus were to disagree with Himself about His commandments, then I suppose the world as we know it would never have existed.  Remember He said He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill and condemns murders to hell or did He extend hatred…

In this world, there have been great debates and a massive amount of tax dollars spent in the court system over the punishment of the juveniles who commit murder.  In the final analysis, this writer believes that capital punishment should never be an option if one truly believes in redemption, repentance and salvation.  Should our young folks be imprisoned without the possibility of parole, perhaps –  until such a time as we as a family unit to include, the trusted neighbors and our friends and extended family can come together and assist when it appears situations with our children are going awry, it just may take a village to raise our children in this century.

 

MsConcerned

 

 

 

 

References:

Avalon Law at Yale

American Bar Association

Massachusetts Juvenile Law Center

YouTube 20/20 Case of Affluence

The Culture of Affluence: Psychological Costs of Material Wealth by Suniya S. Luthar

USA Today

Atlanta Black Star

Cornell Law

Google Search Engine

King James Holy Bible

 

 

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