The ongoing struggle of #BlackLivesMatter

It is time for this nation to initiate a call to end police brutality. Too many lives have been senselessly taken by law enforcement, like Michael Brown, who was robbed of his life on Aug. 9, 2014 . Brown was an African American teenage resident of Ferguson, Mo. who was shot and killed by Caucasian police officer, Darren Wilson. The day after Brown’s death, heartbroken citizens took to the streets in desperate protest against the relentless police brutality occurring in the United States, particularly towards people of color.

On Sept. 14, 2015, a little over a year after the fatal shooting, the Ferguson Commission released a report titled “Forward Through Ferguson: A Path to Racial Equity.” Members of the Ferguson Commission, who were appointed by the Missouri governor to conduct a study of social and economic conditions in Ferguson, wrote the report. “Forward Through Ferguson” was said to be a “people’s report”, written informally, so that anyone who read it would be able to understand its message.

The report states, “The Commission, composed of 16 diverse volunteer leaders, was charged with the following: To examine the underlying causes of these conditions, including poverty, education, governance and law enforcement; To engage with local citizens, area organizations, national thought leaders, institutions and experts to develop a thorough and comprehensive understanding of the concerns related to these conditions.”  

The Commission plans to work with local citizens of Ferguson, with the hopes of gaining their perception of the problems between law enforcement and its citizens. The report dedicates specific sections of its writing to the use of excessive force by police officials and the emphasis of police in the role of a protector and a kind of guardian of citizens.

There have been many initiatives over the past year to institute sensitivity trainings and cultural responsiveness programs in police force academies. These initiatives have not been effective in reducing the appalling rates of police brutality. Everyday more hashtags are created in remembrance of a life lost unjustly at the hands of law enforcement officials; more viral videos are shared of policemen beating young black boys for suspicious behavior or jaywalking, a crime that’s not even a misdemeanor; and more pictures circulate the web of young Muslim boys in handcuffs, like the one who brought a homemade clock to school and, instead of being praised for his impressively engineered invention, was accused of  having created a hoax bomb and was then arrested and put into custody at a juvenile detention center.

It is the responsibility of the government to keep all of their citizens safe, and to treat them with equal dignity under the law.Hypothetical programs cannot resolve issues of morality in the workplace, even in police forces. There needs to be reform in the law itself. It should not be the law to fill a certain number of arrests and citations, as if one is obligated to find a certain amount of evil in the world  . Psychological evaluations on officers need to be a mandatory monthly requirement to remain in the field.  The law needs to institute repercussions for officers who use chokeholds.

Everyday there is an increase in the stigma that the officers who are supposed to serve and protect are malicious, violent and an enemy to civilians. People of color live in fear because they exist in a society that does not appear to value their lives equally in the justice system and in the law itself. It is time for real change: change that becomes law, change that makes it impossible to disrespect and devalue another life. Until then, allies and activists alike will keep making hashtags and raising awareness of this gross, heartbreaking injustice because #BlackLivesMatter, there needs to be a call to end #PoliceBrutality, and this nation needs to love and value all of its people and keep all people safe and protected.