By Chelsea Mickel
Arguably, 2014 was the year that brought the issues of racial profiling and police violence to the forefront.
While the tragedy of Eric Garner’s death by a New York City police officer serves as perhaps the most tragic example, Michael Brown’s death serves as the catalyst for protests and worldwide attention.
It has been a long time since mass protests spread across all major U.S. cities regarding race and police forces, gaining large media attention.
It was the first holiday season I remember where the local government hoped to intervene in the protests in order to guard the flow of Thanksgiving traffic.
The case of Michael Brown and his death by officer Wilson was followed by large protests in Ferguson that caught flame in other areas in the country.
It is unfortunate that some members of the community decided to take out their anger by looting some of the local businesses.
I think that most people will agree that violence only begets violence, but most of the protests were, in fact, peaceful.
I feel that the media focuses too much on the character of the men killed.
I think that it is upsetting when people say that Michael Brown robbed a drugstore and Eric Garner was selling cigarettes illegally, so it was okay that they were killed.
It is missing the point. How can we be so insensitive to their families as to merely judge actions that had little to do with their deaths?
Even if a crime was committed, an unarmed person who says that they cannot breathe, has their hands up or makes no aggressive movement toward an officer should not be subject to lethal force.
How can a man on a street corner minding his own business pose a mortal threat to the populace? The cigarettes Eric Garner had were far more deadly than the man himself.
I feel that we should instead focus on the tragedy of the fact that we live in a country where African Americans, men especially, feel intimidated and persecuted by the police force and society because of the color of their skin.
Every educated person knows that African Americans have been persecuted in this country since before it was founded. To think that this process is complete because of a few laws is simply naïve or ill-willed. There is still much that has to be improved upon.
Many minorities face much higher rates of endemic poverty and lack access to higher education.
The difficulties of urban life and escaping a system that is biased against you seem unfathomable to me.
I hope that our nation becomes a place where people feel more trusting of the forces that are meant to protect them.
I admit I came from the suburbs. I am advantaged. I am a white woman, and I am fully aware that if an officer approaches me, it is highly likely he will ask me if I need help or wish me a nice day.
I am not seen as a threat and I am not one, but most people aren’t threats, and that is a reality.
I do realize that there is footage of a suspect, allegedly Michael Brown, robbing a store, but I believe shooting him with at least six bullets and leaving his body in the street for many hours was not the appropriate way to handle what happened.
The projection that black men are roaming the streets in the middle of the day, unemployed and stirring up trouble, is biased.
The tragedy is that I am not sure what can be done.
Cameras can be worn by police officers, but the death of Eric Garner was filmed, and the officer was still not indicted.
In order for change to be made, communities need to engage in serious discussion about race and police officers’ use of force.
There are many good police officers who risk their lives to protect their communities, and I believe that the police are a necessary entity in keeping our country safe. But when an officer has overstepped a clear boundary, we should be concerned as a nation that our fellow citizens are killed for crimes they did not commit.
We should be concerned that after over fifty years since the Civil Rights Movement, African Americans still face racism. They are still manipulated and mistreated by the country they were born and raised in.