By Salma El-Naggar
Salma El-Naggar is a sophomore at Uni High and a member of the student organization team for the local walkout and other social justice even
In the light of the recent Florida school shooting, gun violence has been one of the most talked-about topics in American news media, and America has realized that gun violence is a major issue.
Gun violence has been evident since the creation of this country. It didn’t just become an issue in 2018. We pushed it away and disregarded it as a problem until it spun out of control.
At the same time, police gun violence has recently reached its peak. Police officers are not held accountable for the lives they have taken, but instead are excused for it since they are doing their job. 99% of all the cases of police gun violence in 2015 did not result in any officer(s) being convicted for murder. In 2017, there were only 14 days when police did not kill someone. In 2018 police have killed 321 people. That means that at least three people every day have been killed by the police.
Statistics also show that in a population of one million people, black people were three times more likely to get killed by police than white people, and that 30% of those black victims were unarmed, compared to 21% of white victims being unarmed. These statistics show that race does play an important part in police gun violence.
In addition, 69% of the black victims who were killed were non-violent and unarmed, while the other 31% were suspected of a violent crime and allegedly armed. Most deaths of black people happen in the major U.S. cities, since 13 of the 100 largest city police departments kill black men at higher rates than the U.S murder rate.
Even in our own town, there has been police gun violence. In both of these incidents, both officers were placed on paid administrative leave and neither officer was held accountable for his actions. In 2009, police shot and killed 15-year-old Kiwane Carrington. Kiwane and his friend were reported for breaking into a house, and when they were approached by the police, they failed to comply with the officer’s command to lay on the ground. Officer Dan Norbits claims that when he was trying to hold Kiwane down, his gun accidentally went off and shot Kiwane, killing him. The court ruled Kiwane’s death as accidental, and no charges were filed against Norbits, despite reports that Norbits had mishandled his gun (News-Gazette, April 22, 2010).
Last summer, Officer James Hobson stopped Dehari Banks in his car for an alleged traffic violation, but Banks kept driving, pulled into a driveway and drove his car into a garage. Banks jumped out of the car and ran, and Hobson pursued and cornered Banks. According to Hobson, when he took out his duty weapon, his footing slipped, and he ended up accidentally firing one gunshot, which hit Banks in the shoulder (News-Gazette, August 17, 2017).
Norbits was suspended for 30 days without pay, the maximum allowable under the police union contract. Hobson was suspended 10 days without pay, and, in a settlement, Champaign paid Banks $93,000.
The frequency of these events shows that the time for change is now. Not tomorrow, not next year — but now. Police violence has taken innocent lives, of which one would be too many. We as a nation have a responsibility to demand justice and protection for everyone living in this country and to stop the trend of police killings and brutality.