Buffalo, NY is a more than 6-hour drive to New York City, where Eric Garner died at the hands of the New York Police Department. Yet, community members felt compelled to attend a local forum with police officers to try and bridge the relationship between authority and citizens.
This line pretty much sums up how it went:
“While the forum's setup was meant to avoid chaos, it didn't take long for things to deteriorate in to a shouting match.”
At one heated moment, an attendee asked Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda why it seemed like the police were most often present in African-American communities.
"It's not stereotyping, it's where we respond to complaints," Derenda said. "It's data-driven. Every day we look at where the crime is occurring, and where the reported crime is occurring. It's not White or Black, it's not anything, it's data. If you're reporting a crime or robbery in your neighborhood, or shootings are happening in your neighborhood, people want to see us in those neighborhoods."
However, that explanation didn’t stop some attendees from shouting, “I can’t breathe!” before leaving the forum, echoing the last words Garner uttered before dying in a police choke hold earlier this year.
I have a suggestion: Enough with the forums, enough with the protests. Let the police do their job. Fatal cases like Eric Garner and Michael Brown are tragic, but they are rare. The majority of the time, our authority figures are doing their darnedest to keep us safe, putting themselves in harm’s way so we can get home safely at night.
My friend told me she was at a dinner in downtown Washington, D.C. last week, when a group of "police brutality" protesters starting shouting at the diners inside. Can anyone tell me what this accomplishes? Whether blocking I-395 traffic or, in the most egregious examples, looting stores and committing arson, these loud and sometimes violent and dangerous disruptions do more harm than good. Even Michael Brown’s parents have asked for peace after a grand jury decided not to acquit the officer who killed their son in Ferguson, Missouri.
Chants of “F*** the police” do not honor anyone.