Relations Between The Police And Their Communities Continue To Be Strained, Contrition Is Needed

The aftermath from the video release of the Paul O’Neal shooting, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, further pushes community relations back to unspeakable depths. There have been rallies by Black Lives Matter and other groups throughout Chicago, which are expected to continue on during the weekend, according to ABC News. And for the most part, everything has been peaceful, but the tension can be cut with a knife. Now the city must ponder what to do in order to prevent things from getting worse.

How did we get here?

According to the WLS-TV, 18-year-old Paul O’Neal was shot and killed by Chicago police after he tried to flee in a car during a chase. O’Neal was part of stolen car investigation, before being pulled over in a Jaguar he reportedly stole. Once he attempted to evade the police, shots were fired. What followed was a crash, and it ended with O’Neal getting shot in the back.

On the full video, which can be seen here, courtesy of YouTube, the police officers opened fire the moment that Paul O’Neal sped off. You can see a couple of Chicago police officers high-fiving each other near the end of the video, which was taken from the police officer’s dash cam. The celebration from the officers was disturbing to say the least.

A lot of the justification for the Chicago police officers shooting of Paul O’Neal was because he tried to get away from them in a stolen car. It has been quickly pointed out that O’Neal was a criminal who had to be taken down with force.

What has also been shared is the idea that Paul O’Neal could have ran over an innocent civilian. The Chicago police officers deserve some reprimand, because, as the video points out, they were aiming wildly. A stray bullet from a police officer’s gun could have shot and killed an innocent civilian just as quick, if not quicker than O’Neal’s attempt to flee.

It seems as if we all have heard this story too many times before. Another crime being committed leads to yet another shocking shooting by police officers. The communities that are being served by the officers are on high alert. The Paul O’Neal shooting comes off the heels of the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Those shootings have sparked mixed reactions from the various communities across America. Some have taken to the streets and protested, other rallies have been conducted, but there have been some dark times as well.

The unfortunate moments include two incidents, one in Dallas and the other in Baton Rouge, where police officers were massacred by military-trained men.

Those two incidents have the country divided. Some people are on the sides of black lives, the others are supported blue lives (police officers). Many of those who are on the side of blue lives believe that Paul O’Neal, and the others who were shot and killed by police officers should not have committed crimes. If they had not violated the law they would be alive today. While that thinking is true, aggressive use of force did not have to take place, especially with those who are trained.

Police officers killing alleged crime offenders are not mutually exclusive to just the shooting of black men and women.

In July, Fresno police were called upon to confront a man who was walking the streets with a shotgun. The officers found 19-year-old Dylan Noble, according to the Washington Post.

Noble was an unarmed Caucasian male speeding down the road. The officers would eventually catch up to Noble, who stopped at a gas station. They would go on to shoot and kill Dylan Noble after he refused to show his hands. With the news of the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile shootings taking over the national coverage, the Dylan Noble shooting went grossly under-reported.

There are times when predominantly minority communities feel they are being targeted. In truth, police officers shooting alleged offenders are not mutually exclusive. The same Washington Post report recorded some data that proves the majority of the people killed by cops are not minorities. Below was the findings from the study.

“In 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race).”

There is more outrage which comes from the black community, than the white community if you sift through the major press clippings. What gets lost in the shuffle is that most of the predominantly black communities deal with poverty, lack of jobs, quality education, and crime against each other. We look to police officers as our solace. If they are quick to fire at criminal offenders with reckless abandon it diminishes the value of human life. That is colorless. But in the black community life barely has a chance to blossom because of the many hurdles that are already in place.

Another reason for the additional outrage is the lack of trust which is supposed to take place between police officers and the citizens they are sworn to protect. If more stories like the Dylan Noble shooting were to come out and make national news, there would be more outrage in white communities also. The protests and rallies would not take place solely in the names of minority victims of police gunfire.

It leads to the fact that something has to change. Acts of contrition is a step into the direction of change. The contrition must come from the police departments in order to regain the faith of the people. Instead, what we have experienced is victim blaming, painted pictures of a person’s past criminal behavior, and a lot of American citizens who fail to realize that they can multitask their support.

It has turned into a contest about who has the bigger and badder gun, not galvanizing as a community the way everyone should. We are a fractured group, who should be made whole. A simple, “I’m sorry, I am part of the community too,” would go a long way to solving things.

[Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images]