We, the people, grant law enforcement officers, judges, elected officials, and other people an increased level of authority in our society. However, this authority is neither free nor limitless.
This is not politics
These are our rights as American citizens.
Every single one of us is affected by this, either right this moment, or in the coming years and decades.
As voters, it is our responsiblity to hold our leadership accountable whether we voted for them or not — especially if we voted for them.
This is not a matter of “blue” versus anybody. This is about meeting your responsibilities as a person in authority, and what happens when you fail to do so.
We the people…
The U.S. Constitution has the following amendments (emphasis mine):
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Protesting peacefully. Petitioning the government to fix what is broken.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
This is not a time of war. The public danger has been self-inflicted. Nobody — criminal or otherwise — should be deprived of life.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.
It is not the job nor responsibility of law enforcement to perform the duties of judge, jury, and executioner.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Society requires balance
In exchange for granting law enforcement officers, judges, elected officials, and other people an increased level of authority in our society, we the people have rights.
Law enforcement officers, judges, and elected officials bear a greater responsibility than civilians do. They are to be held to a higher standard than civilians. Since they are expected to be the upholders of the law, the law places a greater weight on them in exchange.
Law enforcement officers have an oath to uphold justice. They are expected to serve and protect. This is a very delicate balance that must be maintained in order for society to function. When civilians break the law, we face civil or criminal consequences. But what happens when those we entrust to protect and serve are themselves performing unjust acts?
T.C. Sottek writes for The Verge:
Here is just a short list of scenes from the past few days:
A New York City police officer tore a protective mask off of a young black man and assaulted him with pepper spray while the victim peacefully stood with his hands up
Security forces in Minneapolis marched down a quiet residential street and shot paint canisters at residents who were watching from their private porch
Police in Louisville raided a public square, confiscating and destroying water and milk, which is used to counter irritants like pepper spray
Atlanta police stopped two black people, inexplicably shooting them with tasers and tearing them out of their car
A New York City officer used two hands to throw a woman to the ground, reportedly calling her a “stupid fucking bitch”
Many people reported being shot by rubber bullets. MSNBC host Ali Velshi says he was shot after state police fired unprovoked into a peaceful rally. A freelance photographer in Minneapolis says she went permanently blind in her left eye after being shot by police.
Police have brutalized lawmakers participating in demonstrations, including New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie
This is not justice
Salt Lake City cops shove down an elderly man with a cane for the crime of standing along the street: pic.twitter.com/PCLkHqQtJg— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) May 31, 2020
This is law enforcement failing to meet their oaths to serve and protect, failing to meet the higher standard that they’re held to, and clearly violating the rights of citizens.
NYPD officer just called a female protester a “stupid fucking bitch” and threw her to the ground pic.twitter.com/18YUHYmqQa— Jason Lemon (@JasonLemon) May 30, 2020
Law enforcement, judges, and elected officials: We have granted you enhanced authority, but you have failed to uphold your end of the responsibilties. The badge is not a free pass.
Without that badge, some members of law enforcement would be unequivocally guilty of committing assault, performing drive-by-shootings, and engaging in other illegal acts. However, with that badge, you are taking away first, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendment rights from the citizenry you’ve sworn an oath to protect.
Who is this serving?— jordan (@JordanUhl) May 31, 2020
Who is this protecting? pic.twitter.com/IK8DkwLLUT
This is not justice. This is corruption through-and-through. It is unjust, unconscionable, and will not be tolerated by the citizenry of this nation.
they were literally SITTING????????? PEACEFULLY??????? this is absolutely insane. pic.twitter.com/0xmFiZBgYb— 𝓉 ⚢ (@theresakost13) May 31, 2020
Protests against institutional injustice turned into riots in 1968, again in 1992, and now in 2020. Law enforcement continues to abandon their reponsibilities to the citizens they’ve sworn to protect.
What did you expect would happen?