Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My Last Word on the Antwon Rose Shooting.

My last word on the Antwon Rose shooting.

      Antwon should have stopped running. He should have turned himself in to face the justice system. He should not have hung around with the wrong people.
       Parents of children, especially black children tell their kids to not hang out with the wrong crowd. But it’s not easy to do that in communities filled with single parent families where poverty, drugs and easy illicit money lurk on every street corner. A single parent can't ride herd on their kids 24/7. That we agree on.
       But people do dumb things when they are scared and they do dumb things when they succumb to peer pressure.
       But the cop had options too. He could have called for backup and had them go after the kid. He could have given chase to try and catch him. If he couldn’t catch him, he could have issued a BOLO with the kid’s description. He could have tried to de-escalate the situation. But he took the easy option. He drew his gun and shot him.  He had other options. 
        The community would not have made a stink if Rosfeld could have apprehended Rose without resorting to his gun.  But he didn’t.
         And yet another young black man is killed by an ill trained cop, who thought the only way to resolve this matter was to shoot first and ask questions later. In his own testimony, Rosfeld said that he didn’t know why he shot Rose. He said he saw someone point a gun at him, but he could not positively identify who it was. 
          Blame on both sides. Don't get it twisted, I do not hate the police. They have a thankless job.  They see humanity at its worst every day. Cops are taught to make spur of the moment decisions. Life and death decisions. I don’t begrudge the police their job.  I wouldn’t do for one million dollars what they do for one one-tenth of that.
         But the cop gets to go home and think about his actions. He can heal, but Antwon Rose, due to a cop’s incompetence and a bad decision he made, won’t get to see the rest of his life.
          And the police will have that much more difficulty gaining the trust of and protecting a community that has historically not trusted the law nor its enforcers.
          Sometimes it seems like they make two steps forward and one step back. I know cops that are actively engaged in their communities. They address school assemblies, church groups, Civic organizations. They try to show the community that they are on the same side.
           In Pittsburgh, the police run a community police academy where members of the community get to learn what it's like to be a cop on the beat. They do the Lord's work trying to live up to their motto: "Serve and Protect."
            They are trying to erase their role of the past as the bloody fist of control wielded by a racist government bent on keeping the black community under heel. Pretty much every black person knows someone, a friend, relative, or loved one, who has had a negative experience with the police. Some of those experiences were nothing more than an annoyance. Others turned bloody. 
          Every black parent gives their children, especially the boys, "The Talk.". How to respond when stopped by the police. Be polite, comply with the officers requests, and keep it moving. 
         Some folks decide to give the cop attitude. Bad move. Best to just do what they want and move on.  But there are also those cops who think they are the big shit and want to make an example of those they meet. 
           Those cops made black folks lives hell in the days of the Jim Crow South. Cops who'd arrest a black person on an minor or even nonexistent charge. Merely to show them who's boss. And even if the person was compliant, they had to give them a hard time...or even worse.  It was these cops who made the community hesitant to trust the police as a whole. A legacy that endures to this very day.
          Most cops just want to do their job and come home to their family.  But there are those who don't deserve to wear the badge. They dishonor it, and they make the job harder for their colleagues who are trying to keep the lid on.  It is those cops who must be weeded out. A cop should only draw their gun if it is a last resort or if they feel their life is in danger.
         Face it. People are going to run from the police if stopped. It's human nature. But a cop should exercise every possible option available to them to resolve the issue before drawing their weapon. They may only have a split second to make their decision. But pulling their gun should be the last option.  There are times when a cop has no choice but to shoot. But not when faced with a young man running away from them, with the cop's life not under threat.
      Antwon Rose wasn't innocent. He made a stupid decision by hanging out with the wrong kind of people. He made a stupid decision by getting into a car with shady people and getting involved in a drive-by. He made a stupid decision by running away from a cop. And the price to pay for those stupid decisions was his life. But if that policeman could have used better discretion in resolving this matter. Antwon would have lived to learn from the stupid decisions he made.

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