By SEAN LEE
A police officer is dispatched to look for an armed suicidal man in the area. Eleven days ago, fourteen officers were shot in Dallas, and five of them died after being shot by an African American assailant. Just yesterday, six other officers were shot in Baton Rouge, and three of them died. Keeping that in mind, the officer cautiously looks around and approaches a man who fits the description, along with an African American man sitting next to him. The officer reaches for his gun and orders the man holding an object to put it down. Unbeknownst to the officer, the man is autistic and does not understand verbal commands. The officer keeps shouting orders, telling the African American man next to him to lie down and put his hands up. The man complies, and shouts out that he’s a behavior therapist. The autistic man yells at the African American man to “shut up”, and looks obviously disgruntled. The officer thinks he might hurt the man lying on the ground. The autistic man keeps playing with the silver thing in his hand, and the officer gets increasingly nervous. The officer keeps yelling commands, but nothing seems to work, and the situation seems to be getting worse. His vision is blurry; his hands are shaking. He pulls the trigger. His shots miss, and end up hitting the African American man lying on the ground.
Charles Kinsey was an African American behavior therapist who was out looking for an autistic patient named Rinaldo, who had wandered off from his group home. Jonathan Aledda, the police officer, was nervous and panicked, and he failed to properly assess the situation and act accordingly. According to the New York Times, there were three men, one lying on the ground yelling “don’t shoot”, another one right next to him holding a silver object which resembled a gun and one who was a few dozen feet away, armed with a rifle. In the end, Charles Kinsey was shot in the leg, Rinaldo was unharmed and the police officer was stunned and unsure of why he had fired in the first place. When asked why he had fired, he allegedly said “I don’t know.” Although overshadowed by the recent Baton Rouge shootings, it nevertheless inflamed tensions and sparked allegations of racism and misconduct. The accidental shooting of Charles Kinsey is one of the many incidents involving an unarmed African American being shot by a member of the law enforcement.
Many people would naturally come to the conclusion that Officer Aledda was racist without even weighing the evidence or taking into account the horrific tragedy that had occurred just the past day. Certainly, if one would go on Youtube and read the comments section of the video of the accidental shooting of Charles Kinney, they would find multiple messages angrily demanding that Officer Aledda be put in jail. One user commented, “This isn’t racism. Whichever cop shot him, (sic) is a downright idiot that doesn’t deserve ANY job!”
Over and over, we have seen news headlines screaming of another police shooting involving an unarmed African American. The shootings of Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, and multiple others have contributed to an atmosphere in which law enforcement is heavily distrusted. Therefore, some people have come under the impression that all police officers are bad people. This disturbingly unwarranted generalization that all cops are bad has reached a point in society where it has become dangerous and damaging rhetoric. Yes, some cops are definitely bad and deserve to go to prison. Yet the majority of our police force is comprised of good people who strive to make a difference in the community that they serve.
The intense hatred of police officers is evident in common media. For instance, after the Dallas police shootings, multiple Twitter users responded by saying,“Y’all pigs got what was coming for y’all”, “Dude hell yeah someone is shooting pigs in dallas” and “DALLAS keep smoking dem pigs keep up the work.” These extremely disturbing comments on the death of police officers clearly shows the unfortunate hate that some people feel for police officers. Another example of media showing blatant hate for police officers is the song “F*ck tha Police” by rapper group N.W.A.. In the lyrics, it explicitly states “Beat a police out of shape // and when I’m finished, bring the yellow tape // To tape off the scene of the slaughter” and also “I’m a sniper with a hell of a scope // Taking out a cop or two, they can’t cope with me.” Such disgusting and hateful rhetoric against police officers has fostered unreasonable hate for law enforcement, and quite honestly makes it seem okay to disrespect or threaten police officers, which sets a dangerous precedent that cannot be contained.
It is definitely fair to criticize certain police officers or police departments for misconduct or wrongdoing, but for the line to cross over to a dangerous generalization that all cops are bad is neither acceptable nor true.
America seems to have forgotten the fact that police officers lay down their lives for us every day. They put themselves in constant danger, and often their heroism is unrecognized. The media hardly focuses on the good things that police officers do for their community, and rather focus on the latest unjustified shooting of another unarmed African American. They are the unsung heros of our society, yet our society repays their heroism with hateful rhetoric condemning all cops.
If Americans continue to believe that all police officers are bad, then in the near future, the polarizing divide between the public and the law enforcement will reach a breaking point in which the very fundamental liberties and the security we take for granted will crumble and disappear. It is our job as the public to hold police officers accountable for actions that are blatantly wrong, but to also commend the sacrifices they make for the good of the American people.