Aggressive actions of the few don’t represent the whole group

Mitchell Smith, Staff writer

It’s no secret that the police have been in the media a lot these past few years, and it’s not all good press.

In the year 2015, there were 986 officer involved shootings. Of those 986, 564 were armed with a gun, and 281 were armed with another weapon. Only 90 people were unarmed.  

The most covered shootings involve a white officer and a black man. In response to those shootings, a group called Black Lives Matter was formed.

The First Amendment grants the right to peacefully assemble; however, most of the time, that never happens.”

— staff writer Mitchell Smith

Social media has allowed this group to gain massive popularity. When the shootings in Ferguson, Miss., Baltimore, and Milwaukee, happened, Twitter and Instagram blew up with people speaking out.

This group often claims “racism” and “brutality” right after news of these shootings gains popularity, without knowing all the facts.

Eric Garner, an African-American man killed by New York City Police from a chokehold, an illegal maneuver according to NYPD policy, suffered immediately from its effects. He was originally approached by police for selling single cigarettes. While this is illegal, it doesn’t warrant him to die.

In the cities where these shootings took place, this group gathered and protested against the ‘racism’ and ‘excessive force’ that was used. The First Amendment grants the right to peacefully assemble; however, most of the time, that never happens.

There have been multiple examples of violent ‘protests’ by this group that have caused massive property damage and public endangerment. Rioting, looting, and burning down buildings and cars are all parts of that violence.

The victim of one violent police shooting, an African-American man named Sylville Smith, had a lengthy arrest record including charges for carrying a concealed weapon, robbery, and theft.

According to the police, Smith was carrying a loaded handgun with 23 rounds. Milwaukee police have said that the officer told Smith to drop his weapon before he was shot.

The officer followed procedure to the book, and fired in his own self defense. When a man does not put down a loaded weapon, and has a history of violence, what would a person in the officer’s shoes do?

There are people in every group that bring bad representation, there always has been and always will be. It would inaccurate to say that police officers are exempt from the fact. Although some display behaviors of brutality and excessive force, the actions of the few do not define the group.

Another victim, Mike Brown, from Ferguson, had robbed a gas station and assaulted an officer before he was shot. In this case, the officer was defending himself from a criminal.

A majority of our police officers work the field everyday to keep people safe, making split second decisions that could affect if they return to their families or not.

Unfortunately, there will always be cases of unwarranted excessive force; however, responding with violence that endangers the public and causes property damage is no way to properly have your voice heard.

Even with the violence in the Black Lives Matter riots in Ferguson and Baltimore, they shouldn’t define the movement as a whole. There have been peaceful protests in several cities, such as Atlanta, Dallas, and Baton Rouge. Protests like these show that the police and community can unite as one to fight the problem.

Officers who use excessive force need to be punished for their crimes and the radical protestors must also realize that violence will not achieve anything.

If this problem is to be solved, it must be done peacefully.