Howard is a criminal defense attorney. But he is not using legalese to obscure his point. Rather, the clarity of his thoughts make his passionate commitment to justice apparent. We are witnessing, on a daily basis, the kinds of injustice and abuse he is talking about, as well as a broad response to it that gives some hope for a more equitable future. And we must cling to whatever hope we can.
Justice and abuse
by Howard S. Stein, Bellevue, Washington
WARNING Political Punditry
Two cent version: Justice seeks justice and abuse creates abuse.
Longer Version: So I am being asked (in both polite and reactionary ways) why there are not protests, strikes and reform movements when police officers are killed in the line of duty.
My answer is that we show great, societal care for our law enforcement personnel. We lower our flags to half mast, we have motorcades, burials with full honors. We provide judicial, political and financial support for their families when a police officer is injured or killed, as we should.
But we don’t have a societal response for people killed or injured by the mistakes, negligence and misconduct of our police. Police are not infallible. When we treat them like they are we propagate misconduct and deny justice.
Our casualties of police mistakes and misconduct are swept under the rug, ignored and denigrated. When police err we need to acknowledge it and mourn with rather than further destroy the families and communities affected.
No person stopped, investigated or even arrested for a crime by the police should be killed by misconduct or beaten for vengeance. When it happens, we can not keep erecting legal blockades that prevent an open, fair and just process for relief. That is what we do now. And denying justice is what brings us protest, strikes and worse.
We don’t have to ignore or justify or lie about the casualties of policing to be supportive of good police and their practices. If we make ourselves and our police accountable, we won’t have to heed calls to abolish the existing police structures.
Abuse creates abuse.
Justice seeks justice.