Alton Sterling, the 31 year old black man who was shot dead in Baton Rouge on July 5th this year by police, was brandishing a firearm weapon at passersby only moments before his death. One of the passersby, a homeless man, called police and reported that Sterling was brandishing a firearm at him in front of a convenience food mart. That is all the responding officers knew about the person they were responding to: He was armed and possibly dangerous, having brandished his deadly weapon at passersby.
The rest remains for a review board, prosecutor, and possible jury to decide. Politicians began scrambling, carefully choosing their words so as not to incite further resentment or riots in Baton Rouge. Their assurances that indeed there are underlying race issues in our country only fueled the maniac Gavin Eugene Long, the 29 year old self-appointed activist who felt that he, himself, was the review board, judge and jury and took it upon himself to murder innocent police officers in retaliation.
The time has come to stop the rhetoric. That’s what President Obama told the nation yesterday in light of the melee in Baton Rouge. Only President Obama was not talking about the rhetoric that fueled this arrogant, completely malicious attack. He was talking about the rhetoric surrounding the reaction to what Gavin Eugene Long did. Of course he doesn’t want a race war on his hands as the first black president. And he is absolutely right in wanting to keep the peace. But I want to know why the other rhetoric was not stopped. When the media and politicians jump out and speak about something as volatile as white police officers killing black men because we “obviously still have a race problem” in our country. That is the rhetoric that should have been stopped, and I’ve been crying that from the rooftops for a decade now.
The only race problem in our country lives in the hearts and minds of racists. The time has come to stop that rhetoric. That is what is causing division in our country and frankly I am an American who is willing to stand up and say enough is enough.
I am also a near 30 year veteran in law enforcement who can honestly say unequivocally that at no time in my career have I seen any racist acts conducted by fellow officers. And I do not claim all officers are worthy of wearing the badge. I’ve worked along officers who have been convicted of crimes like murder, robbery, kidnapping. There have been officers in our nation convicted of child molesting and child pornography. I personally have worked alongside officers that were completely intolerant of my gay/lesbian fellow officers and politely offered to kick their asses for such hatred. I have put my reputation as an officer and human being on the line to put these misaligned people in the proper perspective and I would do it again. I have known racist officers. And in every breath I take I will admit that some officers fall through the cracks in the hiring process. I know this.
But at no time during my career have I ever seen any officer ACT against another person because of race. Even after viewing the videotapes on the news, internet, and every possible venue imaginable where it clearly shows white officers murdering black people – undoubtedly – (and yes, these are without doubt murder cases clearly when officers shoot fleeing suspects in the back or shoot them in the head while attempting to drive away) even in those cases I’m not convinced that race is the reason those officers overreacted. Were these cases murder? Undoubtedly to me as a veteran. But there is no clear evidence that race was the factor. In all cases the officers feared for their lives and made absolutely wrong decisions in their heightened states. And in all those cases the review and criminal justice system puts these officers on trial for what they did. And correctly so. But that doesn’t mean race was the motive.
But who decides that? Me? Of course not. Gavin Eugene Long? member of the Nation of Islam? Noted hater of whites and police and who openly defies our system of government in twitter, YouTube, and other venues? Of course not. He is not judge and jury. And neither are any of us.
So I agree with our President and think it is high time we stop the rhetoric. But I also think that we Americans need to stand up and say enough is enough. We are not going to allow our officers to be slaughtered on the streets because of the propagandized, politicized notion that white people are out to kill black people. That is absolutely not true and we need those asserters of that idea to quell their rhetoric before other haters brew the idea into their own killing plans. The first amendment does not cover yelling “Fire!” falsely in a crowded theater. And that is exactly what is happening here. It is time to put a stop to it.