Stop the Violence

Roshad McIntosh. Kajieme Powell. Kimani Gray. Kendrec McDade. Victor Steen. Timothy Stansbury. Steven Washington.

What do all these names have in common?

Each was an unarmed, African-American male killed by police.

The list continues to get longer. Last month we added Michael Brown, 18, to the list.

Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri, by a police officer– an authority figure, the good guy, who is supposed to protect and maintain peace.

Unfortunately, we have a long history of authority figures stereotyping and abusing African-American males.

Trayvon Martin was killed two years ago by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Martin had an Arizona Sweet Tea and a pack of Skittles in his hand. But somehow Zimmerman thought he looked “suspicious.”

Why was Martin suspicious? Perhaps there’s only one good answer. He was black.

At just 17, Martin had his life ahead of him, only to be taken away by a person who was supposed to protect him.

There is racial bias against African-Americans. We see a correlation between race and police shootings. Police officers unfairly target African-Americans.

One in four black men between the ages of 18 and 34 report unfair treatment by police officers in the last month, according to Sunlight Foundation. The police may incorrectly profile a black guy as being a “troublemaker” or “gangster.”

This isn’t a new discovery, but that doesn’t make it any less wrong. There should never be a reason why someone is judged based off of his race.

According to data collected by the Sunlight Foundation, black people are five times more likely to be injured by police. Police departments need to ask tough questions about the way they handle race in their towns. In addition, police departments need to hire diverse staffs.

A poll by Pew Research suggests blacks are more likely to say that the Ferguson shooting raises racial issues than whites.

80 percent of blacks say the shooting raises important racial issues but only 37 percent of whites agree. 65 percent of blacks also say officers have gone too far in policing the aftermath of Ferguson.

Officers and other authority figures should make it their job to keep citizens safe from harm instead of being the ones to harm them.

But there is some good to come out of Ferguson – it has put a spotlight on the plague of black teens killed by law enforcement. This is now sparking nationwide discussion and can force us to address racial injustices.