Sunday, April 12, 2015

So Far Away

Seems like every other day last week a new video surfaced of police either shooting or using too much force on a person.  Two cases in particular saw the cell phone video of a bystander and the aerial footage from a helicopter find the news shows and daily broadcasts.  In both cases, law enforcement seems blatantly at fault.  No need for body cameras to record a man flat on his face with his hands behind his back getting kicked and wrestled to the ground by as many as 7 officers.  Same goes for a traffic stop that ends in 8 shots fired in the back.  Disturbing on many levels.  What resonates for me is that we are just now getting footage of things that have, no doubt, been going on for decades...centuries?

People who live near or beyond the other side of the tracks have known the reality of this video brutality all along.  I recall my supervisor, while a Vista Volunteer, assigning me to take a Latino man and his young son to a camping place near a lake for the weekend with no questions asked until the following Monday.  I did.  When all was revealed it turns out that the man had been beaten severely by the Houston police and was soon to testify in an upcoming lawsuit.  His lawyer was afraid he would not live to do so.  That was a reality of that time and place faced my many whose lives were deemed disposable.  Nothing surprises me anymore.  If police can plant evidence in the form of drugs or guns, they can also plant a taser in a convenient spot if need be.

All this makes me wonder about the personalities of some of these officers and what happens under stress.  While most folks would not resist arrest or even an order from a cop, it seems apparent that in many of these recent cases, it is the act of resistance, of non-compliance that triggers the brutal response.  Where is the discussion on that?  While one might argue that the resistance is a product of fear it could be further argued that the non-compliance triggers such an outrage in some officers that they over-react.  Just a theory, yet to be proved, but it certainly bears further study.
The down side of all this video footage is, of course, that we lose a few more slivers of our privacy along the way.  Over time it'll be interesting how this plays out with respect to personality formation.
The easier it becomes to communicate, the farther apart we seem to be moving.

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