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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Answer Is NOT Rioting

Imagine for a moment how our culture would be if every time we got angry about something, we rioted and looted.  A friend doesn't return a call?  Riot.  Someone takes your parking space?  Looting.  Coffee was too hot?  That definitely calls for a full-tilt-gonzo riot, for heaven's sake.  This thing in Baltimore just doesn't make sense.  Well, I suppose it does on some level - an African-American man, Freddie Gray, was killed in the custody of those whom our society has tasked with keeping order, to keeping us safe.  It's not a good thing when law enforcement so brutally breaks the law.

It's almost like Congress giving themselves a pay raise every year.  Wait.  That really happens.

Rioting and acting like a bunch of dill weeds is not the damned answer.  Ever.  Never ever.  

Law enforcement is not perfect because it is comprised of the human element and where there are human beings, there will be mistakes.  Sometimes, those mistakes are fatal as they are in this case.  Here's part of the story from the Atlantic:
The police say Gray didn't resist arrest and that officers didn't use force, which seems to be mostly corroborated by video shot by bystanders. Gray seems to shout in pain, and his leg seems injured as officers drag him to a police van. (Someone off camera shouts, "His leg broke and y'all dragging him like that!") Gray also had asthma and requested his inhaler, but didn't get it. Yet it's not the leg or the asthma that killed him. Instead, it was a grave injury to his spinal cord. Gray's family said he was treated for three fractured vertebrae and a crushed voice box, the sorts of injuries that doctors say are usually caused by serious car accidents. The van made at least two stops before reaching the police station, but there's no footage to say what happened during the journey or at those stops.
Yes.  It's true.  Gray has one hell of a rap sheet on him; he has not been a model citizen.  But law enforcement is to be law enforcement, not a hit squad.  Is that the kind of country we want to live in?  The people, ironically enough, who have rolled out the "gee, look at what a dirtbag he was" argument are typically those who want LESS government intrusion, but where "bad guys" are concerned, it's a free-for-all. 


Between this horrific incident, the recent story about the deputy in Tulsa who needlessly killed a man, and of course there was the police shooting of a man named Walter Scott in South Carolina, the public is unsettled, pissed off and justifiably so.  Police officers have an exceedingly difficult job on their hands and the vast majority of those involved in law enforcement are decent, hard-working men and women who feel that their job is like a calling.  These aren't the ones we hear about much because they are out there every day, putting their lives on the line.

These needless deaths at the hands of some "bad eggs" in law enforcement are sad, discouraging, and intensely frustrating.  But the answer is not rioting and looting.  I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but one thing that rioting does do is to feed into the stereotypes about the inner city.  Dumb asses.

Communities need to investigate the training measures and requirements to become a police officer to begin with.  And in my opinion, part of the reason we have some of these problems is that in many cases, law enforcement is morbidly underpaid.  Yes, that's right - morbidly underpaid.  If the incentive package is weak, the candidates for the job will be weak.  

We have to change this stuff now, but rioting isn't the answer.  Looting isn't the answer.  Investigating and prosecuting douchebags is, however, the answer. 

Of course, this is just my opinion and I could be wrong - but I seriously doubt it.