What’s wrong with America?

SadnessWe see on video, two black men in as many days, in two different parts of the country, gunned down by police.

We see on video, at least five innocent police officers in Dallas, Texas, gunned down in some kind of twisted retaliation.

Given the events of this week, we have to ask, “what is wrong with America?” But beware the simple and straightforward answer.  The task requires us to dig a bit deeper.

Is it that the job of “police officer” sometimes attracts “kick the dog because you can” types of psychopathic power trippers?

Or is it that we still view people with mental health issues as weak rather than as sick?

Or is it that we refuse to recognize the clear links between poverty, health, crime and violence?

Or is it that we think that the 50 years since the Civil Rights Act, magically erases the effects of 250 years of systemic oppression?

Or is it that we have well over 300,000,000 guns in this country and at a certain level it really is just lawlessness and vigilantism?

Or is it that we really are just violent apes who kill each other?

Or is it the fallacy of small sample size bringing violence to our faces via the heretofore unheard of capability of ubiquitous video?

Or is it that things aren’t as bad as the mass media and political machines profiting from our outrage would have us believe?

Or is it a bit of all of the above?

I thought school resource officer’s were there to protect the kids, not assault them

The story from South Carolina about a young female student who was thrown across her classroom by the school resource officer, seems to have created a divide amongst certain kinds of people as evidenced by my Facebook conversations today. The cellphone videos capturing the incident are everywhere, so I will spare you the reposting of them here.

There are those who are saying that she deserved what she got because she was being disrespectful. And then there are the rational  among us who can’t fathom how that type of violent reaction is remotely excusable.

Here are some of my observations from the videos:

  1. She’s a student in a school classroom
  2. She was seated at her desk
  3. None of the students around her in the video seemed to be fearing for their safety
  4. The police officer did not seem to be fearing for his safety
  5. The girl didn’t appear to be going for a weapon of any kind
  6. It appeared as though the officer simply lost his patience, and his mind, and flipped the student backwards in her desk, then picked her up off the floor and threw her across the classroom

If I misstated anything in the above list please let me know.

Here’s the deal. This story is not solely about the media’s portrayal of police officers, or about race. This story is about a guy with a badge and a gun, who has no business trying to resolve conflicts around kids.

And even bigger than that, for those saying the girl deserved what she got, this is the United States of America. We follow the rule of law. We are not a police state. If someone wearing a badge tells us to do something, we don’t surrender our civil rights. In fact, we have a constitution that is intended to protect us from government overreach, not provide cover for it.

Finally, yes I get it. She was surly. She was disruptive. She was wrong. She could’ve complied and diffused the situation. But the last time I checked, being insolent, disrespectful, and rude is not probable cause, nor does it in an invitation for physical violence. And the last time I checked, breaking a school rule or a classroom cell phone policy is not the same as breaking the law. This was a student, not a suspect. She was not under arrest therefore she was not resisting arrest.  The inability of any adult in that scenario to bring a compassionate, thoughtful, non violent resolution to what seemingly started as a cell phone issue, is a colossal failing on their part.

We have to be the example we want to see in others, especially kids.