OPINION: A badge doesn’t make police exempt from the law

Jordan Parker

What is justice? Justice is a police officer being arrested, tried and thrown in jail for their criminal actions.

If an officer commits a crime, they become a criminal just like an ordinary person committing a crime would be. We need justice not only for George Floyd, but all of the victims of police brutality.

Officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, knelt on a Black man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, showing no remorse after Floyd begged for his life. That is cold-blooded murder, no doubt about it.

Angry, confused and heartbroken. That’s how I felt as I watched Floyd’s body become lifeless. How could this be? How could someone have such a disregard for human life?

“I can’t breathe,” Floyd continued to say. He begged Chauvin to spare his life but to no avail. I thought I was looking at something that wasn’t real.

Nonetheless, it was real, and it reminded me of the racism that plagues our nation. In America, we have a criminal justice system, but when have Black people ever received justice for the crimes committed against them by police officers?

Riots have ensued, stores have been broken into and buildings have been burned. People can complain all they want, but peaceful protests have gotten us nowhere at this point. If you think it isn’t OK to burn buildings but it’s OK to march with AR-15’s, you’re part of the problem.

Why do Black people get treated like this? We’re just like any other citizen but we’re looked down upon because we have melanin in our skin. As an African-American, I am scared.

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No more thoughts and prayers. We need action from not only the Black community but from everyone who believes that Black lives matter. Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

The officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but that isn’t enough.

The definition of third-degree murder in Minnesota is perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for life and without intent to kill.

Someone explain to me how there was no intent to kill on Chauvin’s part? What else would you call kneeling on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes while they gasp for air and beg that they cannot breathe.

A badge should not mean you’re exempt from being held accountable for your actions. Cops need to pay the same price as any other criminal.

However, police brutality continues in many states across the country. It hasn’t been just Floyd. It’s been Breonna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Eric Garner, Philando Castile and many other innocent Black men and women.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz released a statement via Twitter saying, “Former Officer Chauvin’s actions were horrific. His arrest is a good first step toward justice for George Floyd. But it doesn’t change the systemic problems and persistent inequities that led to his death or the pain our communities live with every day. We’re committed to change.”

Although the statement denounced the actions of the officer, it didn’t address the other three officers involved in the incident. It also brought into question why it took the death of George Floyd to realize that his community needed change.

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When excessive force is used by police and actions are not taken to directly address the issues, police are giving the public more reasons to distrust them.

The police department is supposed to protect and serve, but who are we supposed to call when the killer is a cop?

What makes police officers think that just because they receive a silver badge that it automatically makes them above the law?

In the U.S., data from 2019 shows that Black people account for just 13.4 % of the population but accounted for 23% of deaths at the hands of police. 

The time has come for all officers to be held accountable for their actions of inappropriate use of force.

As people of color, we shouldn’t have to wonder if a routine trip to the grocery store will turn into our faces being slammed into the ground or if our iPhone is going to be mistaken for a gun.

Police officers who find it necessary to exert excessive force upon people who are less than three times their size or without defense, should not be on the force. Instead, those officers should be in jail.

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Not all cops are bad, but when situations of officers abusing their power recur over and over, it leaves the room to assume that the problem is systemic. It’s ridiculous because officers know they’re afforded protection and likely won’t face harsh punishment for their actions.

It’s time for the local, state and federal government to stop hiding in their offices and pretending this isn’t a problem. Do something. That’s what you were elected for.

If nothing is done, Black people will continue to lose their lives to police brutality across the U.S.

We deserve better.