As someone who studied Criminal Justice and researches Law just for fun I find that I have a certain faith in the judicial system that some people don’t share. I find cases interesting and don’t mind watching a trial from start to finish and can hold my own in a legal discussion with some of the most well practiced lawyers. But just like my religion gets tested, my faith in the judicial system gets tested. It was tested in the Casey Anthony case when a partygoer got away with murdering her toddler, it was tested in the George Zimmerman case, and it was tested in the case of Kelly Thomas, Oscar Grant, and Mark Ciavarella.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the last 3 cases let me fill you in. Kelly Thomas was a homeless white man in California who was beaten to death by multiple police officers who were called to the scene by a bar stating that someone nearby was vandalizing cars. Kelly was sitting on a bench minding his own business not saying anything to anyone when he was approached by an officer who immediately became vulgar and violent asking the victim if he saw his fists and threatening him. Now, let me give you a little history on Kelly… like many other homeless people, he was mentally disabled. Kelly had been diagnosed as schizophrenic and in the course of 11 years he had 92 run-ins with the police. Some of them were as simple as trespassing and one was as complicated as assault with a deadly weapon. But what made this night so different from the many other nights with the police? The officers were combative from the moment they stepped on the scene. Was it because they were being paid off by the bar? Who knows? What is known is in the surveillance video that captured the beating the officer comes up to Kelly and says “You see these fists?” “They’re about to fuck you up”. Kelly does try to resist arrest briefly but you can clearly hear him pleading for them to stop beating him. He cries out for his father and consistently apologizes to them as they continue to beat on him. He tells them he can’t breathe, he tells them he’s trying to comply, he tells them he wants his father, and yet 6 officers continue to beat him and tased him until he is unconscious. And when an ambulance finally arrives on the scene and they went to attend to Kelly, the EMTs were told to tend to an officer who had a small scrape on his elbow while Kelly lay in a large pool of blood. It took Kelly 5 days of being in a coma before he died in the hospital. The cops recounted his death as if nothing had out of the ordinary had happened. The officers involved in the death of Kelly Thomas were found NOT GUILTY of any wrong doing.
Oscar Grant was a black man in California who died from being shot in the back by a white cop as they were trying to arrest him for an altercation that occurred on a train. Oscar Grant and his friends were coming back from ringing in the New Year when they got into a fight on a BART train. The officers were called and Oscar and his friends were detained. It was at that time that Oscar tried to obtain badge numbers and complain about the harassment from the officers. The officers decided to place Oscar and one of his friends under arrest. The officers stated that Oscar was resisting so they used force to try and restrain him. One officer put his knee on Oscar’s neck and he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. At that point, with a knee in Oscar’s back an officer pulled out his pistol and shot Oscar in his back. At trial the officer said he had confused his pistol with his electric taser during the stress of the situation. He was found GUILTY of Manslaughter and served 11 months of a 2yr sentence.
Mark Ciavarella was a Pennsylvania judge who was in charge of many cases. Someone you would look to for justice in the juvenile system. He is currently serving a 28yr sentence for a kickback scheme he participated in with another judge in which he basically sold kids to jails for money. He ended up receiving over $2Mil in kickbacks for padding charges and adding time and sending kids to certain jails for their sentence. He didn’t have any preferences as to who he sentenced longer or where. Of course after this all his cases went under review and hundreds of his cases were thrown out due to their rights being violated. With good behavior he could get out after 24yrs when he is 85 in the year 2035.
It as never been a secret since the days of Rodney King that there are occasions where officers tend to take things into their own hands and throw the law and training out the window. They tune people up on the way to the station, shoot when there’s no need, and take things way too far. With the advances in technology we are armed now more than before. Gone are the days of bulky video cameras now are the days of instant recordings and even faster posting on social media and YouTube. But it only goes so far if there’s no follow thru. We elect our sheriffs and appoint our judges. We vote for our senators and house representatives that put other officials into office. If this type of stuff is going unpunished then we need to change who we have in office and who we have in charge. These people are supposed to be there to protect us, not kill us. Not to maim us in the streets. Now don’t get me wrong I respect law enforcement as much as I respect the military. They go out there in some of the roughest neighborhoods and deal with some of the vilest human beings out there. I wanted to be a homicide detective so I would’ve had to be a beat cop for a while first… there is nothing wrong with police and I think that those who show police disrespect for what other cops have done deserve the disrespect they’re given in return. But yes there are some who are vile and corrupt themselves and those are the ones that need to be let go. Those are the ones we need to get rid of.
As you can see based on the cases above the brutality is not limited to one race. It seems to be concentrated more so in the California area than anywhere else for whatever reason that may be. Maybe it’s just captured and reported more there than anywhere else. Maybe it’s because there’s more gang activity there. There’s so many reasons as to why California tends to be the hot spot for police corruption and controversy but whatever the reason, they definitely aren’t picky about who they go after. I have seen videos online of California police beating on every race. The only way that this will end is if we demand change and demand accountability. People sit here and get pissed off because a white man kills a black kid and claims self defense but where is the anger when a white and Hispanic cop get away with the beating death of a homeless mentally disabled white man? Why is it okay? Why are those less fortunate allowed to die? Why were there no Facebook posts for Kelly Thomas? Why are none of you screaming injustice? Everyone screamed injustice when a black man was shot in the back by a white cop. There were protests and Facebook posts and even a movie made. What is the difference between Kelly and Oscar? Is it because of race? Is it because one was homeless? Is it because one was shot and the other was beaten? What is the difference? THERE SHOULDN’T BE ONE! We are people. We bleed red. They both bled red at the hands of officers. Yet more people mourned one over the other. You say that no one is better than you because of the color of their skin. Well no one is better than the next man because of their mental health or the amount of money in their wallet. A man is a man. It is time for us to take a stand no matter who it is. Both men had criminal records. Both men were attacked for no reason by police. Both men bled the same color the day they died at the hands of those officers. It’s time we take back our streets and hold these people responsible for what they do. And if they refuse to be accountable, we find someone to take their place that will.
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