Opinion: Abuse of Power Remains in Full Effect in Police Departments

Tyre Nichols, Jaheim McMillan, Savannah Graziano – and the list goes on and on – shouldn’t have died by the hands of the police.

Opinion: Abuse of Power Remains in Full Effect in Police Departments (Tyre Nichols | Ben Crump Law)

Tyre Nichols died Jan. 10, three days after he was brutalized by police during a traffic stop in Memphis, Tennessee. Five police officers, all black men themselves, were quickly fired for having committed a heinous act and are now charged with the 29-year-old’s murder. While firing and charging the officers are reasonable actions, they should be viewed as attempts by law enforcement and county agencies to mitigate the expected backlash that will undoubtedly come after video of the incident is expected to be released Friday. 

Memphis is a powder keg waiting to explode. Nichols’ family and attorneys have already seen the video describing it as an “unadulterated, unabashed non-stop beating.” Nichols was a father and his mother said he was a “beautiful soul” who loved to skate and take pictures of the sunset.

“This young man lost his life in a particularly disgusting manner that points to the desperate need for change and reform to ensure this violence stops occurring during low-threat procedures, like in this case, a traffic stop. This tragedy meets the absolute definition of a needless and unnecessary death,” attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci said in a statement.

Georgia State Troopers raided an encampment Jan. 18 in Atlanta where activists were protesting the construction of “Cop City” and killed forest defender Manuel Teran, or as they were known, Tortuguita. 

According to police, Tortuguita shot first and claimed that an officer was hit, however, as of writing this they have not provided any evidence of this occurring. Police love to lie with one of the most obvious examples being the death of George Floyd and the cops lying about what actually caused his death citing a medical incident, not Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s back for nearly 10 minutes. 

Tortuguita’s death marks an escalation by police against forest defenders and environmental activists who are part of the “Stop Cop City” protest movement. The killing is the very reason so many are opposed to the construction of the  $90-million-dollar police training facility as it will only produce more militarized police aside from the damage it will cause to the environment and surrounding communities.

Jaheim McMillan

Jaheim McMillan, a 15-year-old Black boy, was fatally shot by police on Oct. 6, 2022 in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was a child. And he lost his life because someone supposedly meant to protect him shot him down. 

After the incident police quickly created the narrative that McMillan was armed and did not comply with the officer’s orders who shot him. However, witnesses have continuously stated that is false and McMillan was unarmed with his hands in the air when he was killed. A viral video from that day shows a witness, wearing a “Back The Blue” shirt, shouting at an officer that McMillan was unarmed when he was shot.  

The family and community continue to wait for body camera footage and surveillance footage of the shooting to be made public. The chief of the Gulfport Police Department claimed they would release body camera footage before the end of the year, but now several weeks into the new year, this of course did not happen. If the events unfolded like the police claim one would assume they would release the video but they have not because they are lying as police always do.

Why are we so willing to uphold a system that will not protect children, will harm them or even kill them then proceed to smear their image after death? Why do we lack the courage to actually imagine a better world free of children dying from state agents claiming to “protect and serve” but the only thing they protect and serve is their ego and public perception? This is why the talking point of there being some “good cops” or metaphorical good apples is pointless because the barrel is constructed with child-murdering apologists. 

Police do not keep children safe. 

Do I need to mention Uvalde, you know, when the police lied about immediately engaging the shooter but actually waited over an hour while threatening parents who were willing to put their lives on the line to save their kids?

Police do not keep children safe. 

Savannah Graziano

What about the death of 15-year-old Savannah Graziano in San Bernardino, California last year? She was shot by police as she ran to them for help after being kidnapped by her father. After the incident police then claimed she was armed and even fired back at them but this was quickly disproven as a lie as initial reports at the time already made clear her father was the only person with a gun beside the police. 

Police do not keep children safe.

What about the countless children killed or harmed during police raids including Brett Rosenau a 15-year-old who was killed by a flashbang in New Mexico last year? Or Aiyana-Stanley Jones? 

I should not even need to mention Tamir Rice. 

I could sadly go on and on about the tragic fate of so many who lost their lives before they ever began but I think the examples given should make my stance clear.

Police do not keep children safe.

Armed, domestic soldiers with warrior/god complexes who are operating with the belief that everyone is a threat at all times will hurt children more than they will protect them. There is already data that shows that increased proximity to officers in schools disproportionately impacts Black children. 

Calls to increase police presence in neighborhoods to combat crime, specifically Black neighborhoods, will inevitably result in drug raids, arrest warrants, and other situations going awry causing death or injury to those in proximity to the incident including kids. 

Time and time again children are killed, maimed, or harmed directly or indirectly by police. But folks will complain that the call to defund or abolish them is too radical. What I find radical is militarized police forces gunning down civilians, regardless of age, and then proceeding to have the gall to lie and willfully obstruct the evidence knowing they will most likely face zero accountability. 

But oh goodness, I hope a police officer doesn’t read that because we sure do not want their morale to go down because protecting police feelings after they face scrutiny for harming or killing someone is more important than them facing accountability. 

If the police kept children and everyone safe then why is America not the safest country in the world? Our policing budget is larger than the military budget for any other country in the world except for China. Yet, somehow police can be terrible at their jobs and complain about how terrible they are and receive more funding/public support. 

If police actually kept children safe McMillan would be alive right now. Sadly, his family and community have been irreparably damaged and left to demand the bare minimum of being shown the video of his shooting.

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