Mutual exclusivity

In the last 72 hours our nation has witnessed incredibly horrible behavior and actions by a variety of people. We’ve seen cops shoot two black men who appeared to be posing no threat to them. We’ve seen people deliberately target and kill cops who were providing crowd control at a protest. Feeling outraged and angered by these things at the same time is not hypocritical. It is not beyond comprehension that you can be heart broken and yet outraged at each of these occurrences.

Our country is in dire need of criminal justice reform, our police are in dire need of much more training and education. As well as a healthy dose of “your attitude needs to change”. However that in no way excuses or even encourages people who target police for killing. Black people are shot at approximately the same percentage as white people during police encounters. The problem with that is that black people make up approximately 18% of the US population. The comparison between those two numbers just doesn’t add up, there is something else at play here which needs to be investigated and addressed.

Police have an amazingly difficult job, they are supposed to run towards the sound of gunfire, they are asked to protect their communities at the cost of their own lives. They are often faced with incredibly rude and belligerent people. No one likes seeing a cop pull up behind them, and police know that. They know that generally speaking no one wants to see them. Traffic stops are statistically the most dangerous part of a patrol cop’s job. Police officers truly deserve recognition for the trials and tribulations they undergo as part of their job. On the other hand, it’s a job and they signed up for it. They are also put under incredibly scrutiny when they do fuck something up. The past two examples in the past few days highlight this in a painful and in a way that can not be ignored.

However it is entirely possible to hold the position of law enforcement officer in high regard and at the same time realize and advocate for criminal justice reform in our country. It’s possible to realize that the vast majority of police are doing a fantastic job, but at the same time realize that offenders need to be held to the same standards as the community they serve.  It is possible to expect everyone to be treated with dignity and respect but also realize that if you point a gun at a police officer, chances are that you are going to get shot. We can advocate for both things here, we can advocate for better training, for better laws, we can advocate for civil rights to be upheld and at the same time advocate that police shouldn’t be targeted and shot down like they were in Dallas.

These are not mutually exclusive positions and to act as if they are is a grave disservice to our nation and the debate that we so desperately need to engage in.

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