We Made History! (and I don’t mean Hillary Clinton)

In all the excitement over Hillary Clinton, we let it go unnoticed that someone else made history.

Freddie Gray just became the first person to commit his own homicide. Now, I know you’re thinking, “when people kill themselves it’s suicide.” Well, you’re right. But Freddie Gray didn’t kill himself. He died at the hands of police. And today, after several failed attempts to convict officers, Prosecutors in Baltimore dropped all remaining charges. So no one killed him…even though his death was ruled a homicide. The system didn’t fail. It protected those for whom it was created. The system isn’t broken, it operated exactly how it was designed to.  That’s what we say every time something like this happens, but today that isn’t good enough for me.

I recently listened to a panel of people who work across the judicial system. And what I heard was frightening. What I kept hearing was how much of a responsibility civilians have to do the right things and act the right way. But what is that? I absolutely owe police officers respect as representatives of the state. But for that to make sense, they owe me the same level of respect as a PERSON. Not a suspect, not a criminal, a person. They have no more of a right to go home at night than I do. Than Eric Brown did. Than Sandra Bland or Rekia Boyd. The problem is that increasingly, we hear from police about their fears. This is all fine and good, except that 2015 was one of the safest years for cops. EVER. So while police are supposed to be protecting us, they’re busy fearing for their lives. As they should… to an extent. Being a police officer is a difficult job. It is not for the faint of heart and I am grateful for the work the good officers do. But the other half of that statement is that like any job, you were not forced into it. You chose a high risk job, hopefully, because you wanted to help people. But what doesn’t help people is choosing fear over freedom. What helps us in understanding. Civilians don’t take an oath to serve and protect, cops do. It’s time to re-examine those promises and figure out if police policies reflect their sworn duties. We need to ask ourselves if their sworn duties represent our society’s needs. I think the answer to that question is no, at least in spirit. And that is why Freddie Gray is dead. No one protected him and now no one takes responsibility for his death. Our justice system didn’t work for him and now he and countless others have paid the ultimate price. It’s past time we build a system that protects ALL of us. We need to acknowledge that America repeatedly fails Black people. Perhaps if we let our pride die, more people won’t have to.

For Freddie Gray. He didn’t kill himself.
And we won’t forget.

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