Injustice in America is popular topic to focus on. Citizens suffer through indignities often enough that the failures of the judicial branch and the police force are popular culture. Season 3 of the Serial podcast was all about injustice, for example. The podcast featured stories from people who had experienced injustice in Cleveland’s courts. Many of the stories resonated with my personal experiences.
All it takes is one error in judgment to ruin someone’s life. Every single story featured failures in the legal system that could have jeopardized someone’s freedom. From the first episode to the last. The lady who was arrested in the first episode for assaulting an officer was only in trouble because of a faulty decision an officer made. Despite that she was assaulted, the only thing that mattered was that the cop was assaulted. This deeply resonates with me as an African American male.
I have met many exemplary officers, but I have encountered bad ones too. Nothing is scarier than dealing with a corrupted officer because legally, you are powerless. While the laws may have one thing on the book, laws cannot physically stop anyone unwilling to comply. In episode 3, an African American man was beaten by the police and arrested for having weed. the officers may have had the jurisdiction to arrest him, but the extra brutality was not sanctioned. Regardless, the beaten man was powerless in that moment, and things would have only gotten worse.
In Episode 6, the case Arnold Black is something like what I have experienced. Arnold Black was beaten and arrested for being suspected of having drugs on no basis. I wasn’t beaten, but I have been with people who were “suspected of crime” without having done anything. Being searched or suspected by officers without probable cause or warrants is demeaning; it sends the message that they want a reason to arrest you deliberately. It is aggressive, demeaning, and an injustice.
Episode 9 opened with Samaria Rice, mother of Tamir Rice, questioning how she could help the police serve the community better. It is a good question. While citizens should play an active role in the community, the help the judicial system needs is not something citizens can provide. The problems with policing in the United States go well beyond what citizens can control. The goal should be to provide citizens with more legal protections because no one is perfect, even police officers. Senseless violence is senseless violence, no matter what color is worn or what badge is held.