Madison B. Georgia

Breaking the Color Barrier

Stop the racial profiling and police brutality that has been going on in America

Dear Mr. or Mrs. President,

Why do we sit here and watch innocent Black, Latino, and Hispanic people get murdered by the police. You would think the police officers are supposed to protect us, right? Eight hundred and seven people have currently been killed by police in 2016 in the U.S. Sad right? Millions of us sit here and think, why aren’t we doing anything to prevent this racial profiling, racial violence, and police brutality? (sources: washingtonpost.com)

July 6, 2016, Falcon Heights, Minnesota was one of the most tragic days in history. Philando Castile was shot four times by a police officer in front of his wife and baby. The officer asked him for his license and registration, in which he proceeded to tell the officer he had a licensed gun on him. The officer told Castile not to move, in which Castile responded by raising his hands in the air. Unfortunately, before he could fully raise his hands in the air, he was shot not once, but four times. There are 173 similar, but tragic deaths that occurred in 2016 alone. For example, Eric Garner was killed on July 17, 2014 in New York City. Officers accused him of selling cigarettes without tax stamps. He told officers he was tired of being harassed and wasn’t selling cigarettes. An officer then proceeded to put Garner’s hands behind his back, but he pulled his hands away. Then, he was put in a choke hold for 15 to 18 seconds, even though he repeated 11 times “ I can’t breathe”. After being let go, he didn’t move. Even more devastating, he wasn’t given CPR because paramedics assumed he was still breathing. He was pronounced dead the next day. How many more people have to die before we take action? (sources: wikipedia.com, cnn.com, issues.abc-clio.com)

You're probably wondering, what could we possibly do to fix the problem? Better training! It's as simple as that. Our police force needs to be taught not to feel threatened by the skin color, but by the actual weapon. Guns  should be provided for the officers, but the concept "only shoot if you physically see the weapon" must be embedded in their heads. Even using the other weapons they are provided with should be the last thing they resort to. "Although it may be impossible to completely eliminate every aspect of unconscious bias, research strongly suggests more sophisticated training could lead to to more accurate threat identifications, correcting for racial bias that officers may not even be aware of" - www.theatlantic.com. (sources: theatlantic.com)

Now don't get me wrong, a lot of changes have been made since the Steve Biko incident. Steve Biko -an anti-apartheid activist and leader of the black consciousness movement in South Africa- was arrested by police under the Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967, and was interrogated for 22 hours in which he was tortured and beaten by police. He died later on due to head injuries in prison, even though the police claimed it was due to hunger strike. (sources: criminaljusticedegreesguide.com). But even children aren't safe from this violence.  Tamir Rice - another innocent, black 12 year old boy - was playing with a toy gun, when he was shot by police two seconds after they arrived. Notice a pattern? All these innocent people being killed by the people we need most during times like these. Our brothers and sisters shouldn't have to suffer anymore. (sources: google.com)

It has been too long that we’ve been bystanders to this terrible issue. We always say we’re going to fix the problem, but this has been going on for more than 100 years, and we’ve barely made improvement. We’re just procrastinating, instead of taking action. We only protest with the intent of breaking the color barrier, not harming others, and yet still we’re told to stay quiet. But what people don’t understand is, every person being killed, is someone else’s family member. I may just be some middle-schooler that knows absolutely nothing, but just ask yourself, what if it were my family member?

Respectfully and Sincerely,

Madison B.

Creekland Middle School

Mrs. Demos's Classes

We are 8th grade language arts students from Creekland Middle School in Lawrenceville, GA.

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