Response to letter – “Respect the police and their authority’

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 To the Editor:

 

I am deeply troubled by the letter to the editor, “Respect the Police and Their Authority,” (July 24),  

I too, with a heavy heart, read countless stories of police violence. The media has historically played a vital role in exposing injustices, such as the barbaric abduction and lynching of 14 year old Emmett Till in 1955 in Mississippi, and the police beatings of peaceful marchers protesting voter suppression in Alabama in 1965, coined “Bloody Sunday,” in response to the brutality. We must consider where we would be today if the media failed to reveal injustices.

In Mississippi, Emmett’s mother held an open casket funeral and allowed the press to photograph his disfigured body. People across the country were mortified and the Civil Rights movement garnered momentum. Footage of “Bloody Sunday” in Alabama shocked our nation, and marches all over the country ensued. Under the leadership of Martin Luther King, John Lewis, and others we gained the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 

The majority of the recent protests have been peaceful. The fallacy of “only a few misguided” is used to defend the majority of police, while the actuality of a limited number of agitators is used to discredit the majority of protesters. There is a larger outrage over isolated property destruction versus police violence against peaceful protesters. The oath police take to serve and protect applies even when we disagree with them. If police represent law and order, what then do police represent when they are breaking the law and disrupting order? 

If someone is not an imminent danger to police, failure to comply should never result in murder. The problem is systemic, and understanding the history of policing and how it emerged as a means to disenfranchise and control the Black population is important to the discussion. As is understanding what “defund” actually means, and how reallocation of funds might better serve certain communities.  

I think of the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Walter Scott, Alton Sterling, and the countless others. The current demonstrations remind me of the power of unity against what is wrong, and commitment to fighting for humanity for what is right, which I hope is the new normal. 

 

Elizabeth Hylton

Shrewsbury