Derek Cruice, Tony Robinson, Calvon Reid, Freddie Gray, Eric Harris, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown…Does This List Ever End? (2015)

Image courtesy of Click Orlando

Image courtesy of Click Orlando

Somewhere in an American city, be it big or small, a policeman is “doing his job.” He is a human being (by all accounts) but he is afforded the power of the state: licensed to carry a firearm that he may use at his discretion, generally with impunity.

The police officer will be put in tough situations that will require him to think on his feet, assess threats and attempt to rationally perceive if his life is in danger.

At this point we know that more than a handful of officers will shoot first and ask questions later during a confrontation. Gunslingers essentially. Any sane citizen is sick of it.

In less than a month, four more unarmed citizens were killed by police. When this news breaks, there are many voices that are quick to side with the victim or the shooter.

The police officer is the ultimate symbol of a flawed society. The laws on the books, the Constitution, the government agencies—an-often heard chant from the Ferguson uprising comes to mind: “The whole damn system is guilty as hell.”

It’s simply a sham the way these police encounters have played out of late.

Also, why this crusade against marijuana? A small-time weed-dealing LARPer gets shot in the face for allegedly “advancing” on a presumably armored SWAT team member? What in the Confederacy of Dunces is going on in our police force in the present day? A mere reflection of a divided America?

This story is part of a very alarming trend in law enforcement and from the looks of it, at the very least on par with the injustice of the Eric Garner case.

While all the facts are not yet available, Derek Cruice’s death appears to stem from the criminal prosecution of marijuana which is essentially legal (medically, etc.) in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska and decriminalized (in some form) in at least 23 additional states (plus D.C.).
The use of lethal force by law enforcement and the criminal prosecution of marijuana are issues that are part of the national debate, yet the clear tragedy of Derek’s death is getting only glancing coverage from mainstream media.
Radley Balko of the Washington Post served notice to the story with this excellent editorial, getting right to the heart of the issues at hand.

CNN, NBC and Time picked up the story of Tony Robinson, an unarmed 19-year old who reportedly assaulted a police officer in Madison, WI on March 6.
The news is simply staggering at this point. Apparently in late February a Miami-area man was tasered to death in Coconut Creek, FL. The man, Calvon Reid, was bleeding and disoriented when paramedics arrived at the scene on February 22. Reid, clearly not well, allegedly became belligerent with EMT workers and police were called to the scene.
It appears that law enforcement dehumanizes most citizens during many different types of confrontations. The tag line “to serve and protect” couldn’t be more of a misnomer. Police appear to be trained to deal with confrontations, even those initiated by themselves in Derek Cruice’s case, with extreme prejudice.
Police encounters with the mentally ill, as in the case of “Africa” in LA’s skid row, Tony Robinson and others recently, tend to have deadly consequences.
All we can do is present the facts as we know them, it’s up to Eric Holder, police academies and individual police forces to do something about this alarming trend. There has to be a better way for police to deal with certain conflicts, where the results aren’t so deadly.

While these victims of deadly force from police are no longer with us, we are obligated to keep their stories alive. Some independent agency must adjudicate in these cases, no cop should be above the law.
If you kill an unarmed human being, there should be worldly consequences, no matter the threat that was “perceived.”
People say fuck the police for a reason. It’s time for law enforcement, and the often-corrupt agencies and organizations that blindly support them, to become accountable for their actions. The rhetoric and backlash justifying the killing of unarmed citizens is just as much of a plague on society as trigger-happy police.
Here is a short list of unarmed citizens who have been killed by police in recent memory:
Derek Cruice, Tony Robinson, Calvon Reid, Charly “Africa” Leundeu Keunang, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley, Aura Rosser, Kajieme Powell.
Remember their names.

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