The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Police to protect, not kill


Police brutality in the United States is out of control and something needs to be done.

In 2014, police killed more than 1000 citizens, yet the exact number is unknown. The FBI does have a database to track police homicides, but participation is voluntary, and many police departments refuse to report their officer involved homicides. 

For example, the chokehold death of Eric Garner,  an unarmed man illegally selling cigarettes, will not show up in the FBI database, because the state of New York doesn’t participate in the FBI’s program.

To make matters worse, police are receiving large amounts of military surplus gear through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. 

According to the 1033 program’s website, more than 4.3 billion in equipment was sent to police departments, even departments that are under investigation for civil rights violations. In 2013 alone, police departments received half a billion dollars in military gear including, military aircraft, heavily armored tactical vehicles, grenade launchers and much more.

 Do we really need armored vehicles and grenade launchers on the streets? The only time I have actually seen the police use this gear is on protesters who were protesting many of the “justified” police shootings.

 The most recent case involved a homeless man by the name of Africa, a man with a history of mental illness, living in Los Angeles’ skid row district. 

There is a video circulating the Internet that shows seven cops swarming two unarmed homeless men who are resisting arrest, one of whom was Africa, and the other a random transient.

After several officers tackled Africa to the ground, one pulls out his firearm, and fired five shots killing the unarmed homeless man. 

The officer claimed that the man was reaching for his gun, even though he was being beaten by a swarm of cops.

Sadly, cases like this are a norm in society. It seems like every week there is another officer involved shooting that gets labeled as “justified” even though the officer never was in any danger.

If an officer can’t handle an unarmed individual without shooting them, they have no business being a police officer. I understand that police officers encounter some crazy individuals at times, but their job is to protect the community. That is impossible to do when they shoot innocent unarmed citizens.

Should citizens have a right to defend themselves from cops? On May 9, 2014, Marvin Louis Guy’s house was the target of a no-knock raid after a bogus tip from a confidential informant  that drugs were being dealt from his house. 

When the officers entered his house during the no-knock raid, he feared for his family’s life, and not knowing they were police officers he shot at the intruders. 

Guy would later find out that they were police officers, and he is now facing capital murder charges for defending his family from home invaders.

No knock raids are dangerous and in May 2014, officers in Georgia severely injured a toddler when they tossed a flash bang grenade into the baby’s crib. 

There were no indictments for the officers involved, and the county refused to pay the medical bill that was close to $800,000.

Everyday there’s an officer involved shooting that’s cleared, or a victim comes forward about the ruthless tactics some cops are known for. 

There badge gives them the ability to be cleared of any wrongdoing, and many times gives them the mentality that they are above the law.

Police officers who abuse the system are only hurting the fragile relationship between community and police force.  If this continues, the violence will only drag on, and in some cases citizens might take matters into their own hands.

The police state in this country is out of hand. Police are using military style weapons, and are shooting unarmed individuals in “self defense.”  

Everyday activists continue to flex their rights by staging peaceful protests against police brutality, while police officers send in armored vehicles and shoot tear gas at them.

Abusive police officers need to be held accountable for their actions. A badge does not grant any special rights, nor does justify the killing of unarmed men.

If this current police state continues, there is no telling how many people will be in harm’s way.

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