By Adnan Hadzalic (Sophomore)
The recent news stories about police officers killing unarmed individuals have sparked uproar across the country and even the world. From Mike Brown and Darren Wilson, to Eric Garner and the recent shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, these have been some of the biggest stories of the year. As I am writing this, #ICantBreathe has been trending for five days. If one thing can be taken from this, it’s that this issue is something that cannot be swept under the rug and forgotten. A solution needs to be made as quickly as possible.
The purpose of this piece is not to take sides. It is not meant to divide, nor to insinuate any animosity amongst people. It is meant to do the exact opposite. The core of this piece is to spread the message that tolerance and trust can be made among a communities’ residents and its protectors. Even though this is an opinionated piece, I am going to be keeping a neutral state of mind when writing, and I hope that you do the same while you’re reading.
As a result of these recent incidents, protests have broken out (both peaceful and violent), thousands of tweets and Facebook post have been written, and hours of news time has been dedicated to covering this. Whatever your stances may be on these issues, I believe that everyone can agree that there a problem here. It is a problem that has most notably plagued the United States, but also many countries around the world. The problem is the distrust between communities and their law enforcement.
This is a distrust that has been prevalent for years. These most recent cases have become the catalysts that have rapidly pushed a large-scale movement centered around the reformation of police interactions with civilians. In an ideal world, these movements and protests wouldn’t have to happen. Citizens would trust their police, and the police would trust the civilians that they are sworn to protect. But sadly, this is not the case. A solution needs to made and it needs to be made as quickly as possible. This problem is not just a “black and white thing” or a “police vs minority thing”. A joint effort needs to be made. People from every type of background need to get involved. All types of citizens, religious leaders in the community, teachers, politicians, and yes, police officers need to make a stand and spread a message of trust.
As hard as it may be for some people, and rightfully so, this trust for law enforcement within their communities is essential for that community to function. An understanding needs to be made that not everyone on an opposing side is bad. Not every police officer is intent on finding an excuse to shoot somebody, and not every protester is looking for a reason to smash a window. Sadly, there are some that make an entire group of people look bad because of the excessive actions that they perform.
I understand that some people have lived in certain areas where this trust was nowhere to be found. There are certainly communities that have been mistreated by police. There have also been instances where police have been wrongly accused of things they never did. Because of these previous acts of mistrust, it is understandable how a building of trust can be hard to make. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be attempted.
There are many police officers out there that truly and genuinely want help and protect their community. It is those officers that need to extend a hand and make it clear that the police are not people that you should be afraid of. They must also weed out the people in their own police community that mean to do harm and abuse their power.
It’s then the job of the community to be willing to accept this gesture. Community leaders should work hand-in-hand with their local police to figure out how to better their community and find out what people are having issues with.
When one side is seen as the “other,” change can never occur. It is the responsibility of both parties to communicate with each other and to see what drives them together instead of what pushes them apart.