Serve and Protect

A few months ago, when the news articles of white policemen shooting black men began to hit the media in one way or another almost daily, a friend of mine who never moved from his old neighborhood announced at a dinner party one night, “The worst kids in high school are now the policemen in my town.” He went on to explain that the present day policemen of his neighborhood were the meanest, roughest kids to their classmates of all creeds and colors. He wouldn’t call anyone of them, if his life depended on it.


I listened quietly, thinking to my self that sometimes the worst behaved youth who know all of the “tricks of the trade” are just the right people to be policepersons. They form that “Thin Blue Line” that the rest of society, in general, looks to to “serve and protect”. (Secretly, I’m glad that some people want to be firepersons, police, soldiers and truck drivers. Society needs them; I do not want to be one of them.) Nevertheless, I am forced to re-evaluate my, and my community’s relationship to law enforcement and to firearms.


Having been part of the civil rights movement of the sixties and seventies, it is most disconcerting to hear of white policemen shooting unarmed black men. I have to question the screening process used to qualify a person to “Protect and Serve”, just as I must question the process used by several states to qualify a citizen to carry a gun.


A few days ago, a white policeman pulled a car over for a broken tail light then shot the black driver as he was reaching for a document in his glove compartment while a woman passenger and her small child were in the same car at the same time. All of this was recorded on the passenger’s cell phone.


In Dallas, Texas, while people were demonstrating against the brutality of such an act, a black man used a high -powered rifle to kill five policemen who were protecting the demonstrators.


Society is responsible for putting a gun into the hands of a, for lack of a better description, a trigger -happy idiot of a white policeman. Society is also responsible for training the black man to shoot dangerous weapons while in the service and then allowing him to come by dangerous guns when he returned to civilian life.


What are we doing to ourselves? These actions are not the reason behind the “right to bear arms”. The above incidents are not about defending one’s life nor ones property. They are about disrespecting humanity. They are about indiscriminate buying power in the hands of very ordinary people. They are about poor supervision by law enforcement officials and poor moral judgments by weak-willed politicians. If the right thinking people do nothing about this, wrong thinking people will.


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