Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Things Obama Must Do Now About Baltimore

It’s time to fully confront the national problem of police abuse

April 29, 2015

It is clear, at long last, that we are seeing a pattern. Set against the backdrop of years of tense relations between police and those they serve, a black man dies during an encounter with the police. The authorities launch an investigation; outraged community members protest. The victim’s family expresses its unimaginable grief and loss, and asks for justice and peace. Count ‘em: Ferguson (Michael Brown); Staten Island (Eric Garner); Cleveland (Tamir Rice); Brooklyn (Akai Gurley), North Charleston (Walter Scott); Tulsa (Eric Harris), Baltimore (Freddie Gray).

Sometimes, the protests become violent: We saw unrest, damage to property, and injuries in Ferguson eight months ago, and now we are seeing much of the same in Baltimore. While the pattern of black men dying in police custody unites all of these cases, we also see variation.

These events have unfolded in different states and cities, and in different regions of the country. They have involved very different police departments: a couple of small town police agencies, a sheriff’s department, and those in urban settings, including the New York Police Department.

And we see unique circumstances each time: Michael Brown’s struggle for a police officer’s gun; Eric Garner saying “I can’t breathe” as an officer uses a chokehold on him; Tamir Rice shot while holding a toy gun. Akai Gurley died from a police bullet discharged in a stairwell; Eric Harris seems to have lost his life when a reserve deputy shot his gun, thinking it was his Taser; Walter Scott was flat-out murdered, shot in the back as he ran away. And we don’t know yet how Freddie Gray’s spine was nearly severed while in police custody.

(More here.)


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