More Violence

More Violence

I would be remiss if after my last post I didn’t say anything about DJ Henry, the slain Pace University student. Three initial thoughts came to mind as I heard it discussed on the Tom Joyner morning show.

1. As much as I’m on the internet reading the news, I had never heard of this, an incident that occurred in October. So I just wonder how often this type of thing happens, and we just don’t know about it. Seriously, we need to do something. Whether it be training our young men on how to deal with the police, whether there is just cause for the encounter or not. I’ve been in a situation myself where I’ve been harassed by the police, and I was calm for awhile until I just lost my patience.  I wasn’t hit or anything, but I was given 3 tickets, which were thrown out when I went to court, but I recognize that a-it was a luxury that I was able to take time off work to go to court and b-that I knew my rights and thus knew the tickets wouldn’t hold up if I contested them.  Just like there was training for sit-ins, maybe we should have trainings for police stops. It can be infuriating when you feel like you’re being picked on, but we really have to learn how to go along to get along sometimes–especially if death or wrongful imprisonment is a possibility. And we need to know what the laws and ordinances are.  (And I say all that not to say what I think happened in this situation–I really don’t know what to believe happened to DJ Harvey.  I do know I haven’t heard or read anything yet that justified killing the young man.)

2. I’m happy that black media is covering this.  We really need to support and take advantage of the media outlets we do have to increase awareness and spur action.  We do not/should not read everything we read (as was the case of Shirley Sherrod), and we need to know who is reliable and where we can really make sure our voices are heard.

My heart goes out to the family and the school body as they figure out what actually happened that fatal night.

Injustice – Once Again

Injustice – Once Again

The verdict of the Johannes Mehserle trial came in.  He was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter.  Guilty – yes.  Involuntary manslaughter – no.

For those of you who may not know, Johannes Mehserle is a former Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officer who shot Oscar Grant in the back while lying face-down on the Oakland subway platform.  How is that involuntary?  Where is the justice?  Did the jury really believe this trained police officer’s story that he thought he had pulled his taser?  Even if it was a mistake (which I don’t buy), why would he have even needed a taser?

At some point, police brutality and misconduct needs to be addressed.  I firmly believe that police officers should live in the communities they protect and serve.  They should be community stakeholders and invested in the wellbeing of the communities.  They should not be people who react and respond out of malice or even fear because they aren’t in tune with those areas.

Now I don’t know all the circumstances surrounding Mehserle and his employment with BART.  I do know, however, that it’s a downright shame that a police officer can be caught on video shooting an unarmed man who is lying face-down on the floor in the back and not be charged or convicted of murder. This crime was indeed NOT involuntary.  It was reckless, unnecessary, and senseless.

I hope that in the aftermath of the Mehserle verdict, the riots cease and that community leaders, along with community members, start really considering strategic implementation of efforts to prevent such travesties.  We have to protect, not destroy, our communities. Reactionary, unproductive violence is definitely not the answer.

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21