Renita Chalepah, far right, takes part in a prayer walk on December 8, 2018, to honor the life of her son, Zachary Bear Heels, who died June 5, 2017, after being shocked and beaten by police officers in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo by Kevin Abourezk

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Are we letting the police become more violent?

What kind of law and order culture do we want?
By Professor Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
Native Sun News Today Columnist

When talking about Violence in any society there are many experts, but one thing can probably be agreed upon: a nation at war for centuries will undoubtedly reflect Violence and more abuse and injury not only within its own citizenry but also among other nations than a nation which reflects centuries of peace.

This is especially true if the cause for War, which in itself is the essence of violence, is hidden, pushed under the rug, unresolved. An immoderate use of force and an abusive or unjust exercise of that power is often the unintended result. As we confront another decade of War, several questions come to mind. It brings up the issue of what kind of Law do we want in our personal lives.

America is a nation…at war for centuries…with unresolved peace “initiatives,” reflecting a long silence from officials and the politicians who are loathe to engage in public dialogues for fear of losing the backing and the votes of those who have put them in charge. It brings a more stringent attitude toward the people we live with and especially those with whom we do not agree. Even for writers like myself, our public attitudes and our particular obsessions are often said to be immaterial.

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn. Courtesy photo

There is today a protocol in how to handle violence and in all of the police departments in cities like ours and even larger ones promote what is called “the use of deadly force” by our local police force. It is an attitude that I do not agree with and I say so every now and then. But, in reality, it is said to be a way of behaving that is pervasively accepted by most official departments. I don’t know much about all of this and admit that I am just a casual observer, but I have noticed that the police more often than ever before have shot and killed unarmed persons right here in our community and are rarely reprimanded or punished for it.

I am aware of several such events in the local Indian community of police shooting and killing unarmed persons in the last few years. Looking at the wider world I notice that such events are becoming more frequent. Just this evening watching the news on TV, such a police shooting of an unarmed young man in his grandmother’s backyard in Sacramento, California has brought on a law suit. So the question is no longer, ARE WE BECOMING MORE VIOLENT? For me, the answer is “yes”.

American police culture in the homeland, it seems to me has finally caught up with television and movies.

Having said that, though, I have another question. Before we resort to accepting the notion that using “deadly force “by the police is ok in the shooting of unarmed teenagers running for their lives, or others who don’t “stop!!” when shouted at by the police, I want to ask what training these police men and women have in preventing such confrontations before the use of such unjust exercise of power is used. Most of us do not think that it is a death sentence to run away from the police, nor is it a death sentence to fail to answer the shouted directives of the police.

“Stop or I’ll shoot to kill” seems ok for a television line, but in real life it amounts to a death sentence by an officer who has the license to do just that!


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