Editorial: Video of police abuse teaches lesson

This morning’s lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer is absolutely right in decrying the outrageous violence in the latest viral video of police abuse from a classroom in South Carolina. Here’s the excellent conclusion:

“[Officer] Fields’ actions are about much more than getting tough with a defiant student. They are about a mentality that needs to be rooted out of law enforcement.

On the day after the classroom incident, a prosecutor announced that an another police officer in South Carolina will not face criminal charges for fatally shooting a 19-year-old who was fleeing from a drug deal sting operation.

Seneca police Lt. Mark Tiller said he shot Zachary Hammond because Hammond tried to run him over. But a newly released dashcam video shows Hammond’s car passing the officer as he opened fire.

The case has received less attention because both the officer and suspect were white, but it still demonstrates a persistent culture of excessive force and official tolerance.

The student who took the classroom video, Tony Robinson, summed up the lesson he learned that is instructive for police as well. He said a police officer is ‘supposed to be somebody who is going to protect us, not somebody we’re going to be scared of.’”

As horrific as the flood of viral videos that have been flooding our computer screens are, let’s hope that they are finally opening the nation’s eyes to the disturbing reality of police misconduct that’s been ignored for too long. (Note: The ACLU now has an app (The “Mobil Justice” app) that people can download to their phones. It  makes it easy to record police behavior and send it on to a safe and secure place. Click here for more info.)

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