A once apathetic society, who had become so unquestioningly content with the status quo, is beginning to wake up.
For over a decade, Americans stood by as police killings went largely unchecked. No one even cared about counting how many citizens had their lives taken by cops.
But the days of unaccountable government killings seem to be numbered as killer cops have awakened a sleeping dragon.
Over the past two years, with Ferguson, Missouri, playing a key role, the American people have realized that police are killing their friends and family at an alarming rate — And they have taken action.
Multiple independent sources, fed up with the failure of the federal government to track police killings, have begun tracking these killings independently. Killed by police, the Guardian, and now the Washington Post have been airing the dirty laundry that the feds have kept under wraps for so long.
Swarms of peaceful protesters have taken to the streets in the last two years as well, with people demanding that killer cops be charged. A new report out of Reuters suggests that to an extent, this demand is being met.
According to Reuters,
The number of U.S. police officers charged in fatal shootings has hit the highest level in a decade in 2015, new research shows, driven by greater scrutiny over use of deadly force.
Public outrage over the deaths of black men at the hands of police in New York, Missouri and elsewhere have spurred prosecutions. Police body cameras and bystanders’ videos also have helped bring cases, but even with the upturn, only a small percentage of police killings result in charges, lawyers and analysts say.
A dozen officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter this year resulting from shootings, up from an average of about five a year from 2005 to 2014, said Philip Stinson, an associate professor of criminology at Ohio’s Bowling Green State University. He sifted court records and media reports as part of research for the Justice Department on police crimes and arrests.
The above numbers do not include the six officers charged in the murder of Freddie Grey, as four of them have been charged only with manslaughter.
After watching grand jury after grand jury failing to indict killer cops, some of whom murdered their victims on video, seeing this spike in police officers being charged is heartening. However, it does not go nearly far enough.
For every one cop who is charged in the killing of an individual, dozens more are not. For example, on Wednesday, a grand jury decided that the peace officer, Deputy Todd Raible, who shot and killed a beloved member of the community, Derek Cruice, did so because he is an apparent “hero” in the war on drugs, and they decided not to indict him.
While this spike in police prosecutions is not as high as we’d like to see, it shows that when Americans cast aside their apathetic tendencies, positive change is affected.
The American citizens have a long road ahead in the battle for freedom, and this is one step of many. And, while holding police officers accountable for murder is a good thing, it is still only attacking a symptom of this country’s much larger sickness.
As long as we continue to ignore the causes of police killings, and gang violence, we will continue to see police killings and gang violence. It is time Americans stop ignoring the war on drugs as the cause of most of this country’s ills.
The drug war and subsequent recidivism that it creates are the essential ingredients in police shootings and most gun violence. End the drug war and police killings will plummet — so will gang violence.