Delivering Innovation

Justice is sought regarding the individual murders of African Americans, most recently Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. When President Obama mentions those particular murders, he is at the same time mentioning the systemic disparate treatment of African Americans in the American legal system. Many statistics show that police stops, arrests, trials, sentences, and incarceration are quite harsh for African Americans. What is not clear is whether this is due to systemic racism or higher crime rates among African Americans. Each side in this debate organizes its own statistics. Progressives often refer to Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow, which unfortunately contains no solution. Conservatives prefer Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr.’s simple statement when he recommends, “Stop trying to fix the police, fix the ghetto!” Fixing the ghetto has proven almost impossible, and the War on Poverty made things worse.

The critical interface between suspects and police generates most of the publicity, especially when white police officers shoot African-Americans. This highly publicized interaction in cases over the last few years represents only the first juncture in the legal system. There are multiple later stages of the criminal justice system under criticism. Police shootings generate controversy which then includes all subsequent stages of the system. The discussion of perceived injustice in the later stages of the criminal justice system makes statistical analysis impossibly complex for any use with the problem of police shootings based on split-second decisions. As a result, critics pin the discontent of the entire system on these split-second decisions. The murder of African-Americans becomes the pet of all perceived discrimination throughout the criminal justice system…and, at times, in the American economy. Uncertainty surrounds the recent shootings pending investigations, grand juries, trials and even sentences.

Lately, some have turned away from the nonviolence preached by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Junior. With these big, complicated questions under discussion, tackling the problem of police shootings has a simpler solution than the larger controversies would have us believe.

Most publicized police shootings in recent years could have been prevented if citizens had obeyed all of the following accepted rules when stopped or approached by police officers:

  • Obey the instructions and orders of the police – it’s the law.
  • Do not interfere or obstruct the police, as you may be arrested for it.
  • Think carefully about your words, movements, body language, and emotions.
  • Don’t argue with the police.
  • Keep your hands where the police can see them.
  • Do not run. Do not touch any police officer.
  • Do not resist even if you think you are innocent.

Out of respect for law enforcement and all lives, our leaders must educate the public about these common sense rules. This is what the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says he wants us to do now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *