The no. 1 killer of our black youth is quickly turning from black-on-black crime to the police officers who have vowed to protect and serve. The case of Bronx native 18-year-old Ramarley Graham, gunned down in the bathroom of his home in February by a police officer who “thought” he was carrying a gun, caused a familiar, painful, and unnerving stir within the black community. What has now caused that stir to turn into an outrage is that the officer is only being charged with first and second degree manslaughter, according to NY1.com. To add insult to injury, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said,

“Several members of the officer’s team had confirmed the presence of a gun and that constituted a grave danger to the officers and the community. We believe that this officer will be exonerated at trial.”

Really?! This officer should be cleared of all charges due to the fact that he thought this young man was carrying a gun? The mere suggestion is a slap in the face to the victim’s family and the justice system as a whole.

The loss in trust with the law enforcement stems more from our discontentment with the fact that many officers are protected by the blue wall of silence or seem only to be put on “modified” duty or get suspended with pay when they kill one of our own. Justice should be dished out the same for everyone, regardless of their career of choice. If wrongful acts by officers that lead to fatalities continue to go unpunished or get just a slap on the wrist, then African Americans will start to fear the cops more than the vigilantes they are supposed to be protecting us from. They should fear the same repercussions any other pedestrian fears if they commit a crime. The lackadaisical attitude of some of the higher ups in law enforcement can cause one to believe they feel they are above the law.

I am in no way saying all police officers are corrupt or out to assassinate the black community, but they need to be held accountable for all of their actions. The fact that they are trying to feed us that it is OK to gun down someone they “think” could be armed is a travesty. What happened to shooting a person in the arm or leg to prevent them from doing harm? Aren’t fatal gun shots supposed to be a last resort?

Graham was found to have had marijuana on him that he was trying to flush down the toilet before he was killed in his home. There was no gun and no reason for his parents to come home to the corpse of their son in the bathroom.

The word exonerated is one that should not be used in this case. Too many officers operate out of fear instead of tactical judgment. Shoot to kill is not supposed to be their first line of defense, but all too often it is, especially with our black males.

The fact that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said there is no need for the creation of an inspector general to oversee the police department (proposed by council members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander) is another slap in the face. This proposal came due to the disparity with the “stop and frisk” policy in New York. Due to the amount of bad press the NYPD has been getting lately, I would say a general to oversee the everyday duties of our officers is needed.

Our trust in those who wear those blue uniforms is beginning to fade more and more. Stop trying to get off when you have done an injustice to the people you took an oath to serve. We are not animals who must be taken out back and put down because you have decided our lives need to end for one reason or another.

I have friends who are cops, and they are great at what they do. Unfortunately the same way the entire black race gets a bad rap due to the actions of a few is the same way all officers start to be viewed negatively by the community when their fellow men and women in blue violate the law. If anything, they should be held to a higher standard than everyone else.

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