Michael Brelo Found Not Guilty, Civil Unrest Ensues

Michael Brelo found not guilty! That was the verdict handed down by Judge John P. O’Donnell at a Cleveland, Ohio, courthouse. The ruling leaves yet another stain in the minds who believe that the police in urban areas are above the law and can get away with everything, including murder. Civil unrest happened immediately after the verdict became official.

A CNN report stated that protestors took to the downtown streets of Cleveland, leading to several arrests near East Fourth Street. Police showed up in riot gear in an effort to contain the demonstrators.

The verdict and movement came just weeks after the unrest happened in Baltimore, Maryland, after the death of Freddy Gray. Charges have been filed against six Baltimore police officers and will be handled by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

The findings from Gray’s death were so despicable that Baltimore’s chief of police, Anthony Batts, admitted that the police is part of the problem.

“We are part of the problem. The community needs to hear that. The community needs to hear from us that we haven’t been part of the solution, and now we have to evolve. Now we have to change.”

His quote takes us back to the case of Michael Brelo. The Cleveland police officer was accused of firing shots that killed two unarmed people, Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. A total of 137 rounds were reportedly fired by police during the November 29, 2012, arrest attempt, which resulted from a 22-mile car chase. Brelo reportedly fired 15 shots through the windshield that killed both Russell and Williams. The verdict of not guilty raises eyebrows when it comes the tactics that police officers are able to use during situations in which they feel that they lives are on the line.

Given the recent circumstances involving the Brelo case, changes must be made. The death of Freddy Gray and the tragic endings to the lives of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner is offering awareness to the divide in the country. A statement released by the families of Russell and Williams acknowledged the obvious.

“The judge began the explanation of his ruling by pointing to the countless instances across the nation where racialized policing has occurred and resulted in the untimely deaths of Black and Brown women, men and children. Even as Judge O’Donnell acknowledged the disproportionate killing of people of color, he failed to hold Officer Michael Brelo accountable for his reckless and cruel actions.”

So many of these “cruel actions” are happening as of late — and they are seemingly happening only in primarily African-American communities, where police are supposed to uphold the law. The problem is a clear disconnect between the officers and the people which they take an oath to serve and protect. They have been protected by the same laws that a civilian would clearly go to prison for, and in some states, be executed in the event that the laws are broken.

Reform is needed in the police departments in order to ensure that this alarming ceases. The most alarming element to what has been taking place as of late is the fact that seemingly every person to perish due to police violence is a member of a minority.

As a citizen, it is difficult to trust that the people in charge of protecting the law now have the capacity to not break the law if they feel insulted, disrespected, or that their lives are in danger. The latter is seldom the case — and as long as the acquittals keep coming, the belief is that they can keep getting away with breaking the same rules that they enforce the citizens to abide by.

Somewhere some people are wondering why civil unrest still exists. In Cleveland, the answer came with Judge O’Donnell’s not guilty verdict of Michael Brelo.

[Photo by Ricky Rhodes / Getty Images News]