Police officers, the military, and emergency responders like fire fighters and paramedics, have the most difficult jobs in the world. They see us at our worst, our most vulnerable, and our most fragile. Their decisions and actions ultimately decide whether we live or die, often while their own lives are at stake. Anonymous men and women in uniform perform heroic acts every day that go routinely unnoticed. Cameras were not around the other day when police and firefighters stopped a suicidal woman from jumping from the roof of a parking structure to her death two blocks from me. It is no exaggeration that these heroes put their lives on the line every day and they deserve our utmost respect and admiration for their commitment and their willingness to sacrifice their lives to preserve our way of life.
Lately there have been a string of newsmaking officers, for the wrong reason. They are a small minority across this nation who soil the badge and the uniform they wear, horrifying and betraying the trust of the community they serve, exorcising their personal demons with violent overreach and tragic consequences. They perverted their oath, transformed their role from law enforcement, to judge, jury and executioner. Whether by their direct action, or by the silence and compliance in the face of human rights violations, brutality against apprehended suspect, they do not serve the good of society nor of the force. They serve no one but themselves. Put simply they give the magnificent majority of police officers a bad name. Worse their actions leave behind a death toll that continues to rise.
Today, as reported by the Associated Press, the names of a half dozen suspended Baltimore Police Officers were revealed publicly for the first time in connection with the death of Freddie Gray. The Justice Department has launched its own investigation.
Authorities say Gray was arrested, shackled and driven around in a police van for half an hour. Then he was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. A week later Freddie Gray died as a result of what has been termed ” a significant spinal cord injury.”
What we do not know:
1) why was Freddie Gray stopped?
In response to this one simple question, Baltimore Police Commisioner Anthony Batts says this is “A question we have to dig into.”
Let me repeat: Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man is dead, a week after injuries he suffered while in police custody, and the Police Commisioner of Baltimore does not know why the man was detained.
What law was being broken? What law was being enforced?
According to reports, they found a switchblade on the young man. One officer says he suspected Gray was carrying a switchblade, whether that was due to the officers years of training, x-ray vision or lucky guess, the question remains, how does a man with nothing more than a switchblade end up with significant spinal cord injuries?
Why was he not taken directly to a hospital, and instead “rushed” to the hospital after being driven around in the police van for half an hour?
According to published reports Fredie Gray’s death comes six months after city officials released a plan to reduce police brutality and misconduct in Baltimore, a result of officials appeal to the Justice Department to review their police policies and procedures.
Let me be perfectly clear. I am not anti-law enforcement. I am anti-firing squad. I am anti-genocide. I am anti- all those actions and ideology which are inherently Anti-American; you cannot be “pro-law enforcement” and condone unlawful acts.
Those who claim to be “pro-law-enforcement” should join myself and others in demanding nothing less than the best from those honored and privledged to wear the badge. They hold a great responsibility in their hands.
Where are the voices of decorated law enforcement officers nationwide who should not simply “stand by their brothers” despite their actions, but demand the accountability and discretion which was a hallmark of their own careers? These men and women provide shining examples of the best. They should demand nothing less of this generation of law enforcement.
My mother was a nursing supervisor in The Bronx for decades. She took an oath to help everybody get better. If you were a Grand Wizard of the Klu Klux Klan hospitalized under her care it was her duty to get you back on your feet, Personal biases were put aside. Ugliness like bigotry in all its forms are checked at the door. It’s not part of the job. Duty is above all else.
Tell me how enforcing the law is any different.
We all should demand to know why Freddie Gray is dead.