Opinion: Violence against BIPOC needs to stop

Protestors+gather+after+the+death+of+Daunte+Wright%2C+a+20-year-old+black+man+murdered+at+the+hands+of+police+on+April+11+in+Minneapolis.+Wright%E2%80%99s+death+took+place+only+weeks+after+the+death+of+Adam+Toledo%2C+a+13-year-old+Latino+boy+from+Chicago.+The+police+are+beginning+to+get+all+too+comfortable+when+it+comes+to+the+death+of+people+of+color.+Without+serious+police+reform%2C+these+BIPOC+deaths+will+only+increase.

Photo via Instagram (@lizrflores)

Protestors gather after the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man murdered at the hands of police on April 11 in Minneapolis. Wright’s death took place only weeks after the death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino boy from Chicago. The police are beginning to get all too comfortable when it comes to the death of people of color. Without serious police reform, these BIPOC deaths will only increase.

Once again, the United States is in the news for yet another murder of a black man at the hands of a police officer. 

It is a narrative our country has grown all too familiar with — a police officer pulls over a person of color and the next thing we know, death is plastered all over the news and social media. These deaths are usually labeled as an “accident” or are lamely “justified” because the person was resisting arrest. 

Let’s say that Potter genuinely wanted to pull her taser and not her handgun, there are still some logistics that make zero sense. ”

— Op-Ed Editor Rachel Laposka

On April 11, Daunte Wright, a black male, was pulled over by Minneapolis police officer Kim Potter on accounts of an expired license plate and an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror. What should have been a routine traffic stop resulted in Wright’s death at the hands of Potter. 

Potter insists that the shooting was an accident, making claims that she thought she had pulled her taser to subdue Wright. An officer who has been on the police force for 26 years cannot tell the difference between a taser and a gun. 

Let’s say that Potter genuinely wanted to pull her taser and not her handgun, there are still some logistics that make zero sense. 

When training, officers are taught that their handgun holster will be on their dominant hand side and their taser will be on their non-dominant hand side. It is possible that Potter accidentally reached for her gun out of habit, but that raises a whole new issue. Why would an officer resort to violence at a traffic stop?

Aside from the basic police training, there are some distinct differences between a taser and a handgun. Weight is the biggest thing that I feel should have stood out to Potter. The material of a taser is primarily plastic, while a handgun can be completely metal with a little bit of plastic built-in. 

Plastic and metal are drastically different in weight, which would make a taser and a handgun distinguishable by weight alone. 

Wright’s untimely death is not the only one that has been amplified in the media as of late. On March 29, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was fatally shot by the Chicago police. 

Moments before the shooting took place, records state that shots were reported in Little Village on the West Side of Chicago — the primarily Latino community where Toledo was killed.

As soon as [Toledo’s] hands were in the air, Stillman fired a fatal shot.”

— Op-Ed Editor Rachel Laposka

Reports say that Toledo was with 21-year-old Ruben Roman prior to the shooting. Roman was shooting at a passing car when the police arrived. Once the older boy was apprehended by the police, Toledo began running. 

Officer Eric Stillman caught up to Toledo and began shouting at the young boy to show his hands. Police bodycam footage shows Toledo throwing what appears to be a gun behind a gap in the fence before he put his hands up. As soon as his hands were in the air, Stillman fired a fatal shot.

Adam Toledo was 13-years-old. He had his entire life ahead of him. He was robbed of his future for complying with the police, and for what? Because he was Latino? 

If we compare the arrest statistics of white men to that of colored men, you would find that the two groups are treated drastically differently. 

When the shooter in question is a white male, the media is more likely to focus on his positive attributes, painting him in a light that allows him to appear like the victim. When a person of color is the shooter, the media will paint him as the villain with no exceptions

The media needs to remove racial biases from their stories. These biases endanger entire races of people, painting them as the villain regardless of the situation. Next, we need to rewrite the narrative falling into the hands of the police force. 

It starts with education. More extensive training is needed to become a police officer. With most agencies, the highest education required to become a police officer is a high school diploma or a GED

Potential police officers should not display any racial biases. Stricter mental evaluations, intense training, and frequent check-ins regarding police policy will help. 

Officers need to be held to higher standards so our country can avoid tragedies like Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo.

The force’s motto has always been “Protect and Serve,” but who exactly are they protecting and serving when their motto only falls skin-deep?

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