While your focus may be on whatever distraction spoon-fed to you by our current administration, I wanted to issue a friendly reminder that not one, but two police officers with past records of using excessive force, sought to re-create a chilling scene from American History X this week, by stomping on the face of already handcuffed black men.
The first of the two atrocities takes place in Columbus, Ohio involving officer Zachary Rosen. A name that may ring a bell considering he was previously involved in a controversial fatal shooting in 2016 where he fired 15 shots at a 23 year old man- a case that is still under investigation due to several conflicting reports. Anyway, the video starts with one of Rosen’s colleagues handcuffing a black suspect who can be seen lying face down, with his hands behind his back, and the situation under control. Seemingly dissatisfied with the already restrained man’s consciousness or ability to still breathe, Rosen bolts onto the scene and stomps on the man’s head, so forcefully that it bounces up from the curb, and then proceeds to kneel onto the hog-tied victim’s neck.
But not to worry, if you're upset at what you just witnessed and hope the officer was prosecuted, Columbus Division of Police were swift to punish this hothead by giving him...desk duty. What is this elementary school? ‘Now you sit behind that desk and you think about what you did, there’s plenty more pencils for you to sharpen so you better get your act together young man’. I mean come on, this is a criminal offense and should be treated as one.
Thankfully Georgia’s Gwinnett County Police Department treated their almost identical case, with more severity. In the second video, Officer Robert McDonald, can also be seen kicking an already detained man in the face. However he was fired the following day and the department also launched a criminal investigation of McDonald's behavior.
Now while it is important to commend Gwinnett County for their swift action, we must also realize that this dismissal is a rarity amidst a judicial system that often looks the other way when a crime is committed by someone wearing a uniform, especially in cases were there are no fatalities and the department feels less pressure to take action. For example in Texas last year, Officer William A. Martin was given a measly 10 day suspension for brutalizing a mother and her daughters after they took offense to him defending a suspects right to choke their son for littering. Officer Martin was back patrolling the streets in a matter of days.
Time and time again an officers use of brutal force is either dismissed, deemed part of the job, or justified because the person on the receiving end was eventually charged with a crime. Yet I don’t remember Dylan Roof being handled with such barbarity, in fact if I recall correctly, he was treated to a post-arrest Burger King. But regardless of the suspects criminal activity, officers are supposed to be trained to deescalate situations and be rational in the face of adversity, only to use force when needed. Was the use of force by Officer Rosen needed? Was the use of force by Officer Mcdonald needed? Was the force used on Philando Castille or Terrence Crutcher needed? We must stop making excuses and face the reality that all too often, officers will use unnecessary force on black citizens in this country. An issue that has to be addressed through, say it with me Jeff Sessions, POLICE REFORM.
While there are millions of brave officers out there who courageously put their life on the line to protect communities and deserve the upmost respect, there are also far too many examples of thugs, yes thugs, like the two mentioned above, abusing their power. Using their uniform as an excuse to enforce their prejudice and enact terror upon black citizens in this country, which in turn casts a negative shadow on law enforcement as a whole. So when you partner these sickening acts with the Attorney Generals decision to roll back decades of police reform by ordering a wide-ranging review of the federal consent decrees with local law enforcement agencies that have been accused of brutality and violating civil rights laws, it just reinforces the issue that to those within our judicial system, black lives don’t matter. So we must continue to remain vigilant, continue to remain informed, and continue to tell America, Black. Lives. Matter.