Thursday, March 3, 2011
We’ve probably all winced through enough Cop shows to recall them screaming: “GET ON THE GROUND. GET ON THE GROUND NOW!!” When the camera focuses on the suspect, and if he has spread-eagled himself on the ground, (like the young man in the video below), the cops run up, knee his back, bring his arms around, snap on the cuffs, and bring him to his feet. They don’t kick him repeatedly in the head and groin and punch him over and over in the kidneys. At least not in Cops I’ve seen.
I’ve been avoiding this post, trying to find better words to express what I mean to say and can’t say I’ve succeed here, either. Recently I placed this link on my facebook and someone commented:
“Good. Now let's see you condemn the teacher's union brutality and hate speech in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”
Someone else responded merely with: “Teacher's union brutality?????? Mercy.”
I got it – the aggressive sarcasm of the first remark and wondered whether to respond. I decided yes because the practice of brutality (wherever it is) and hateful rhetoric does not reflect the gospel and life of Christ. I’ll stand by this: whatever that young man did, he had already surrendered and the behavior of the arresting officers was wrong. We have courts and laws that are supposed to protect a suspect from what the Houston police were doing. Whatever grievances we have about the Teacher’s Union over there does not excuse the violence here.
I thought of how we Americans often thank ourselves that we are not like other people in less civilized parts of the world. Places where human rights are violently abused and life is extinguished without mercy or justice. We think of Libya these days.
Happily, not all officers are like them. I’m proud to have a brother who is a county sheriff. He’s a savvy, powerful man, but he’s also wise and kind-hearted. I’ve often said that if you ever really needed help and saw him coming, you would cry with relief. On the other hand, if you were the suspect, you could trust him to respect the law and not to kick in your head or break your groin even if you’ve committed a heinous crime. We leave punishment to the courts and the law. In our country that is supposed to mean protection for everyone, regardless of race or social standing. Not that it does, obviously.