Licensed to Kill

Yes, police officers have the power to use lethal force in the conduct of their duties. To protect their own lives and the lives of others, they sometimes have to use force. But with great power comes great responsibility. Here lie the main questions. When do you use this force? When is it excessive? How do you judge excessive force? And how do you hold those who misuse it accountable?

Unfortunately in this country, the African American community has born the brunt of excessive force when it is applied by the police. Specifically, black men tend to die for trivial offenses or for merely being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Frequently in these cases, facts are reduced to the past of the victim, suspected activity, and attitude to absolve the officer of responsibility and place blame on the victim for their death. Reports detail the suspects were allegedly intoxicated, selling cigarettes illegally, driving with a suspended license, trespassing. etc. But are these alleged offenses even if they are true, deserving of death?

When people die at the hands of law enforcement unnecessarily officers have taken it upon themselves to be both judge and jury. They have circumvented the judicial system, which has its issues and issued a death sentence from their limited and bias perspective.

The threshold that triggers the use of force seems hair-thin while the burden of proof for excessive force seems insurmountable. This wide area of latitude seems to grant law enforcement officers the right to kill indiscriminately and without repercussions.

These frequent viral incidents of the death of black men at the hands of mostly white police officers should trigger not just another conversation but changes in our civil institutions. The boundaries for the responsible use of force need to be examined and reinforced. Then when officers step outside of these boundaries they should be held accountable and face real consequences. We need to end this endless cycle and charade of justice conducted before the American people. When these incidents occur they affect each one of us not just is minority neighbors. Today it is George and tomorrow it may hit closer to home.

The license to kill is granted by the American people and We the people need to revoke this license. Instead, we need law enforcement to work within the boundaries of its license to protect people. We need them to adhere to the oath they take to serve and protect not some, but ALL.


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