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Stop the Killing

By       Message Marc Ash       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 12/21/14

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Reprinted from Reader Supported News

12/20/14 - Police officers look on near the scene where NYPD patrolman were killed ay a gunman.
(Image by (photo: TheSource.com))
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We report on a case of unjustified police violence seemingly every day. We choose carefully which ones to focus on. The criteria is some form of blatant abuse, with serious consequences. Those consequences often involve the deaths of innocent men, women, and children, and disproportionally people of color.

As a senior editor at Reader Supported News I cannot say how many cases of people unnecessarily killed by police we have reported on. I have in all honesty lost count.

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Ismaaiyl Brinsley, the man who killed NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, clearly had other problems and was almost certainly acting on an array of issues by the time of the killings in Brooklyn.

Brinsley's internet postings would seem to suggest that his attack on the two officers was intended as retribution for the death of Eric Garner. But his actions paint a portrait of a man acting on violent impulses not connected to the killings in New York.

In all, on the day of the killings Brinsley shot a total of four people, including himself, his former girlfriend in Baltimore, and the two officers.

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The political attacks launched by NYPD personnel and their representatives against Attorney Eric Holder and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio are dishonest about the reality of the relationship between the NYPD and the community. However, in a broader sense, to assail public officials who attempt to effect badly needed reform guarantees perpetuation of the widespread abuses.

In the coming days we are going to hear a lot about "officer safety." To address officer safety it is absolutely necessary to address use of force by police, and particularly use of deadly force. In addition, the concept of virtual immunity from prosecution plays a huge role in how the public reacts to the police in their community.

If the public sees the police as adversarial -- and to an unprecedented extent they do -- then that absolutely affects officer safety. When the justice system refuses to hold the police criminally accountable that does not make police safer. To the contrary, it places police officers in greater danger.

Justice for all is the key to a civil society. The justice system, particularly at the state level, shields police officers from prosecution. They are a different class of citizen. That breeds resentment and a profound sense of injustice.

If Staten Island district attorney Daniel Donovan had pursued an indictment of Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, he undoubtedly would have gotten it. The death had already been ruled a homicide. Instead, Donovan manipulated the grand jury process to acquit rather than indict.

The rage produced is not limited to the New York area, it has spread across the country and internationally, becoming a symbol of American police violence and judicial corruption. That does not make police officers safer. Nor does increased violence. There are things that will help, however.

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There is no international parallel, at least in the Western world, for the aggression and violence of American policing. Other nations watch in amazement at the often deadly results. Reducing the violence is critical. Reducing the overall aggression is equally important.

Greater caution while interacting with suspects is safer and smarter for the suspects and the police officers. Sure, it's great to make an arrest on the spot, but that is not always necessary. Identifying the suspects and apprehending them later is always an option.

Let's not forget that Eric Garner was suspected of selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk. Hardly an immediate threat to society. What flowed was totally unnecessary, and completely out of proportion given the situation.

Police officer safety begins with intelligent police practices. Including knowing when to walk away.

America is a violent country, as are its police. More understanding and less violence are absolutely possible. The sooner we start, the sooner we make a difference.

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Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, now the founder, editor and publisher of Reader Supported News: http://www.readersupportednews.org

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