Guest Op-ed: Police Brutality in 21st Century America

By Kenneth Umemba

We condemn in strong terms the police brutality on African Americans, people of color, and peaceful protesters. Police Departments in the country have turned into agents of oppression and suppression, by turning around to hunt the citizens they swore to protect.

It is a national embarrassment that the security agencies that are supposed to guide its citizenry would unleash terror on innocent people. They should not be agents of destruction and intimidation.

Citizens expect Law and Order to be complementary and reciprocal. Respect for the law of any land emanate and stream from the fountain of justice, when blind and balanced. This ideal is very distinct from present injustice where bands of trained killers terrorize and vanquish regular citizens on our streets and in the safety of our homes. 

The nation-wide flagrant abuse of democratic norms of checks and balances, expected in fair law enforcement actions, do not help to maintain Order. Such disabuse lead to chaos and lawlessness in society; as evidenced from the Roman Empire to the French and Haitian revolutions, apartheid South Africa, and to the public events being witnessed in America today. 

Majority of Americans including women and mothers, and people of color are worried at the rate the nation is slowly but surely degenerating into an inhumane society. People are fearful that the center cannot hold The United States together anymore. They are afraid that the Innocence – Faith and Trust – reposed on the men-in-blue is lost, as we continue to be witnesses to everyday murder of American youths in their homes and on the streets in a civilized society.

This reign of colonial and Euro-centric spirit of oppression and enslavement that insidiously rip at the vagaries of Law and Order today, is the sworn enemy of democracy. It so because it puts Mammon, instead of God Almighty, at that center of the economic and political life of the United States.  It is a center that is extremely attractive and the apex for power. It is there, that the financial and fiscal power is concentrated. Everyone wants to get there, to that imperial center at all costs. There, it is winner-take-all affair where only the ruthless and the idolatrous survive.      

This is the source and sustainer of the culture of impunity and lawlessness, which pervades all levels of governance. Where people inspire to summarily execute their fellow citizens under the disguise of Law and Order, and deride in their latent but misguided intents to maintain supremacy in purifying the flock.  It is at this apex, that evil doers and mechanistic characters find unbound freedom to masquerade in police uniform and in marching orders, to divide and conquer. In utter disregard to the rule of lay they professed to, they forcibly act in unison and as mercenaries to promote their mundane interest geared towards the preservation and enslavement of the general citizenry.

It behooves us to ask how much injustice is enough to arouse the populace out of their quiet, out of their fascination with settling for status quo? Just like the drama of a swarm of bees stinging a furiously quite beast. American citizenry are here, the beast. Will this beast come to terms with its fury and go at the rampaging insects? Or will it remain in that pose of philosophical helplessness?  How long will the bees bite, while the beast pines, grunts, and grovels?

Is it the case that America have long reverted to the wild, wild West? They are stung but not angry, or they are not showing it. Are protests unfolding acts of providence that, at last, jolts the new generation to the past glory of collective indignation, of the triumphal rabble?

Shall the general populace take heart and continue to put all before the Throne of Grace, hopeful that these bad actors – our tormentors, are just but passing storm in a God-baiting and God-taunting teacup? Is it reasonable to ask Where Thou Are our Leaders – Governors, Mayors, City and Town managers, Elected Officials, and people who believe in the common good who still have a store moral decency?

Regrettably, the Jews in Germany of yore, like law-abiding citizens of today, were too deeply engrossed in commerce that they hardly remembered politics.  What happened?

They paid dearly for their indifference to politics because it took one ‘mad’ man called Hitler to change their history and wipe out their business empires. It is a very big lesson for our youths who have been indifferent to the public discourse, and oblivious to local and national politics.

It is understandable that while we engage in our wild chase for money, career, and family the others are after that political power – the center. With their political power, they decide what use we put our money to vis-à-vis, our destiny. Who is ‘fired’ or not. Who lives or dies. With one policy or the other, they decree out our existence.

The truth is that if we continue to pray, and remain silent, like the Jews in Germany of yesteryears, our children (as Bob Marley captured in one of his lyrics about the metaphorical Sheriff) are bound for extinction. Therefore, is there any lesson for us in the prevailing situation, as we wrestle to find ways to embrace group consciousness and coherence in dealing with police brutality on our streets in the 21st Century America.

We desire a society that has ample room for all of us. A society that deals even-handedly and fairly, with all of us no matter the physical size of our person or the purported numerical strength of our origins. That ephemeral and utopic society where the color of our skin should be the determinant of who amongst us lives to see tomorrow in this purity test.

Equal representation and participation for all of us shall be the whole of the law.  Thus, each one of us, individuals and groups, who are citizens, must never, never have any prohibitions to navigate the streets of America, nor live freely in the safety of our homes. 

Our liberty is enshrined in the covenant of the common good, not in the hands of any select people. It is the freedom to live ascribed in that belief that justice is blind for all and in God We Trust.

(This is dedicated to my sons, Kyle and Kingsley, and to mothers and parents who have lost their kids through police brutality.)

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