by Mikayla Brown

Police officers are indicted in fewer than one percent of killings, but the indictment rate for civilians involved in a killing is 90 percent. From what researchers know, police deadly force takes a citizen’s life about once every seven hours on average.

Michael Brown of Ferguson, Missouri was 18 years old when he died. He just finished high school and in two days was going to start a training program for a heating and air condition company. On Aug. 9, 2014, Brown was with his friend, Dorian Johnson, when a white male police officer named Darren Wilson shot him 12 times in the front and back. Before the shooting, Wilson drove up to the boys and they got into an altercation. He grabbed Brown by the neck, and Brown fought back by swinging at the officer. Once Wilson finally let go, Brown ran a short distance, then turned around, put his hands in the air and was believed to be shouting “Hands up, don’t shoot.” After Wilson saw Brown turn around, Wilson fired on Brown, ultimately killing him. Wilson did not face charges because he shot in “self-defense.”

Tamir Rice of Cleveland, Ohio was 12 years old when he was shot and killed. The police officers involved were Timothy Loehmann, a trainee, and Frank Garmback. The two officers were responding to a call that a black male was pulling a gun out on people. They went to the recreational center and when Loehmann saw Tamir pull something out of his pants and shot at Tamir. It turns out that Tamir pulled out a fake gun. Loehmann was fired from the department but did not face any charges.

When I heard about these two stories, I was 10 years old. They scared me to death and still scare me to this day as a 15-year-old girl. Just imagine waking up every morning and being terrified for yourself, your friends and your family: it is the worst feeling in the world.

Blacks already have less opportunities in America as it is, and the police suppressing and discriminating against us does not help the problem. Even though these stories are from five years ago, they are still relevant today. Because of these shootings, three indomitable women had the temerity to start the Black Lives Matter movement.

The goal of the movement is to give solace and protect the minds of young black children while also tackling the problem of violence in black communities. The older members of the community want the younger members to grow up in a world where they are treated with the same respect as everyone else; but as soon as we take one step forward, the majority sets us five steps back. Too often do people assume that a black man in a store is stealing something or get nervous when seeing a black person walking down the street. There have also been far too many cases of police officers shooting black people who run away from them.

As Beyonce said, “The war on people of color and all minorities needs to be over.” Even though I did not mention any brutality happening in the city of Philadelphia, it occurs here as well. We could be one of the first cities to do something about this problem. Our police officers can stick to investigating crimes instead of committing them.

Mikayla Brown is a student and resident of Chestnut Hill.

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