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Important to question justice system in lieu of police shootings of unarmed men

The recent police killings of several unarmed African American men – and the lack of indictment of the police officers involved – have inspired multiple organized protests across the United States.

This past weekend, on Saturday, December 13th, civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton led a marching assembly of over 10,000 people to the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to racial profiling by police.

The “Justice for All” march in downtown D.C. unified the supporters of two deceased black men: Eric Garner and Michael Brown, both of whom were killed by police officers.

Just hours later, even larger groups of protesters stormed the streets of Manhattan, San Francisco and Oakland.

In response to the killings, President Obama has voiced support for the requirement of personal police cameras.

Had cameras been recording the interaction between Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, we would know whether or not Brown held his hands up [as protesters maintain] or whether he assaulted Wilson, as he testified in front of the grand jury.

Tamper-proof recording devices would provide an objective, third-party account of all police encounters.

Technicalities aside, personal cameras would function along the same lines as surveillance cameras in stores: behavior is regulated and curbed by an internalized awareness of being watched.

It’s like Thomas Jefferson once said, “Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.”

However, given the fact that the entire incident in Staten Island between Eric Garner and Officer Daniel Pantaleo was recorded on video but there were no charges filed against the officers involved, how beneficial would body cameras actually be?

In fact, not only were the officers exonerated for their actions, the only person indicted in the Eric Garner case was the person who provided the video footage.

What makes this particularly hard to swallow is the fact that, for months, those involved in the Michael Brown case have reached different conclusions regarding certain indefinite and ambiguous claims.

Did Brown have his hands raised or not? Did Officer Wilson fear for his life when he shot and killed Brown?

But in the case of Eric Garner, with perfect clarity and video recorded evidence, no officers were indicted and blame was placed on anything but the seeming injustices of a flawed and prejudiced system.

For the second time in a ten-day span, a grand jury [which, in Federal cases, has a 99 percent indictment rate] failed to indict an officer who caused the death of an unarmed man.

Perhaps this is the result of a criminal justice system that is composed of two separate, but equally significant parts: Firstly, a police force that investigates crime and secondly, the district attorneys whose job it is to prosecute. Essentially, they are colleagues that work together, so when one group is called into question – in these cases, the police officers – the situation becomes tricky.

Questioning the system that brings forth these results is both imperative and urgent and as the “Justice for All” march demonstrates, it’s actively being done.

I certainly don’t pretend to know all of the facts regarding either of the aforementioned cases and I will admit that bias is introduced from both sides when you look at any source of information.

However, I do believe there is great promise for the current social unrest to develop into something positive, transformative and revolutionary that has the potential to sweep through and seize this nation.

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