With liberty & justice for all?

Police brutality against communities of color escalates and so has media coverage

By Yajaira Peralta

Guerrillera

Recently, there have been various accounts of police brutality towards minority groups in the United States. From Trayvon Martin to Michael Brown, these occurrences have only escalated—or so it seems. The truth is that police brutality has always existed in minority communities, but now the media is actually getting involved. So why is it that we seem to be bombarded with these controversial issues now instead of always having them out on the light? The simple answer is justice.

   University of Utah graduate Mariana Ramiro detailed a very important trend in violence by media coverage that is often undermined. “Did you ever notice that during the Columbine shooting, the two primary offenders Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were described as poor Caucasians in troubled homes? They murdered 12 students and a teacher. It was as if those murders were justified simply because of their psychological, racial, and economic status.” These words that Ramiro spoke resonate truth, especially when relating the recent police offences. One of the first things that the White folks question in both the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown cases is their whereabouts: What were they doing in the dark so late? Why did they try to attack police officers? It seems that the questions are blame a community that is tired of being blamed.

   Our communities won’t take it anymore. There is more media coverage because we are demanding it! Riots, strikes, and even sit-ins are at an all time high and without them the recent deaths would have been ignored like they have been for the past century. The truth is that every day police officers are influenced by their prejudices to discriminate against people of color. According to Liberation News, every 32 hours an African American person is killed by law enforcement.

   The statistics are out, and communities are taking action, but are we doing the right thing by getting the media involved? Ramiro sees this as a troublesome issue. She expressed sadness “that it takes so much effort on the part of our communities to bring these issues to light. These occurrences have been discussed in communities of color for ages and have been pushed aside by the White majority. The offenses committed against us were a ‘them’ problem. I am happy that now the White majority has these issues shoved into their faces.” Like Ramiro, I see that our communities are finally gaining the courage to break the silence and risk anything for justice. Is the Latino community ready to step up and stand for the false accusations, stereotypes, and even media coverage?

   Theses police attacks aren’t just happening in the South. They are happening in our own backyard. On Sept. 12, a 22-year-old African American youth, Darrien Hunt, was shot numerous times in the back because he was carrying a samurai sword. Before he had time to drop his sword, Hunt was shot and as tried to escape, more shots were fired until he eventually was literally shot to death. Some of the readers comments demonstrate shocking and disturbing differences in perspective regarding how to understand such an incident. Readers have responed to local coverage by writing: “Why do people automatically assume it’s murder if someone is shot in the back?? If Hunt was shot in the back, it’s likely that officers were protecting citizens from a man running around swinging a samurai sword. That’s their job. The incident occurred in a crowded area and it’s very plausible that there were citizens in danger. Thank you, Saratoga Springs police, for being there and doing your job.” Many more negative comments are given justifying the police officer’s actions towards Hunt. This shooting did get quite as much national coverage as Michael Brown’s. Just like our southern states have showed us, it’s time for communities of color in Utah to break the silence and demand justice in its justice system and law enforcement. Next time you repeat the pledge of allegiance think to yourself, is there really liberty and justice for all or is it something we try to believe to make our day a little better? Sorry Utah, but it’s time to face reality.