After a record year of police killing people in our communities, the problem of police misconduct and brutality continued to grow since the murder of George Floyd in 2020. It seems that every time progress is made on any given issue, those that oppose civil rights legislation lead attacks to sabotage those successes. Efforts to undermine many measures – including the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act – continue today.
Just as our right to vote is being impeded, our voices silenced, and our history robbed of us, so are our civil liberties out in the world. Attacks on peaceful protesters except for far-right actors whom cops seem to allow free reign to spread their hate (and politicians leading attacks on anything non-white) are the more glaring examples. The continued militarization of the policing apparatus to silence dissent has only exacerbated the state of affairs in civil society.
Warrior training for police and an “us vs. them” mentality – taught to them from the first day of training – then handing them weapons of death isn’t working. Police don’t need more training as their willingness to use restraint with a White suspect is so often seen in case after case. However, the implicit bias that leads to the disproportionate deaths of Black, Latino, and Indigenous people is pounded into them by racist trainers who were trained by racist trainers who train cops.
It’s easy to see the systemic issues in policing and where they originate. It goes beyond being raised by racist parents, although that does play a role. The true impact happens when trainers validate those ideas and allow them to spread among rank-and-file officers. The worst problems in policing stem from the culture that is so broadly accepted and perpetuated by trainers, police unions, and those that financially support the propaganda arm of law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the public maintains its complacency.
Overall police brutality is much more than shootings. People are beaten every day. You don’t hear about it because the victims survive. Even local media doesn’t report on anything beneath the surface of an issue. My recent investigative report for Unicorn Riot is a perfect example of this. Local media has so far refused to report on one of the more alarming revelations in the investigation. That the county is hiding deaths by lowering detainees’ bonds while they are dying in the hospital and “releasing” them from custody.
So far, local and national news outlets (NY Times, Axios) have only touched on the surface of the issue using more narrative than facts. Yet, data coupled with stories from the families of victims and statements from officials overseeing the jail at the state level tells a horrifying story that they walked from. This story doesn’t end with the basics as has been reported. There’s much more to be told.
I intend to tell it just like I do with every other story regarding the criminal justice system. Because other journalists are more concerned with being the first to tell a story and protecting their access to cops than they are about being right. That’s not me. I’m here to do the job of holding power to account as journalists are supposed to do.
The fact that the sheriff’s office or county commissioners won’t talk to the one person going beneath the surface should tell you all you need to know. That they only talk to people that carry water for them and make them comfortable is simply an exclamation point on their arrogance in ignoring people who died on their watch. I’m not here to bash anyone and I’m not looking for “gotcha” quotes. I’m looking for the truth.
The families of victims deserve that much.
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