By James E. Gierach
What would cause a white police officer in Minneapolis to think he could pin a black, handcuffed, submissive arrestee suspected of passing a $20 counterfeit bill to the pavement with his knee for eight minutes with the support of three fellow officers, as the black man repeated pleaded he could not breathe?
What on God’s Green Earth could cause a police officer’s perception of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable policing to stray so far from the legitimate purpose of policing in the 21st century?
What police training or public policy could be so indifferent to the salient, oppressing issue of racism in 21st century?
What happened to America the Beautiful that could result in four police officers cooperatively condoning the abuse and killing of another human being with just mortifying complacency and none of the four rushing to free George Floyd of the suffocating knee to his neck? For eight agonizing minutes, the last three as George lay unconscious and completely helpless.
What public policy has transformed American society into an unrecognizable contortion of its former proud stature? The country whose doormat formerly read, “Welcome” to people of every race, creed, color, sex, and nation of origin?
What intolerance, what impatience, could transform America in just half a century from the “Land of the Free” into “the Prison Capital of the World” with over 2.2 million people behind bars? More prisoners than any other nation on Earth, per capital and in gross.
What policing misdirection and lost mission encouraged and enabled the militarization of local policing? Moved a surplus of new military vehicles and weaponry into the arsenal of local police precincts?
What policy would allow police to become stakeholders and third-party-beneficiaries of criminal misconduct, feeding the policy that is the problem?
What public policy has so endangered Americans that its titular leader has threatened the use its own military forces against Americans across American cities and states?
What public policy from outside the United States, what international body, threatens the United States and other nations of the world with similar corruption, intolerance, mass incarceration, unending violence and erosion of human rights and human decency?
Where are our leaders?
Cannot any of them recognize the cause of this cancer on mankind? Can none of them discern the central thread on which are strung the public health, public safety and moral-being crises tightening around our collective necks?
The United States of America is experiencing the perfect storm: a three-month pandemic and lockdown that increasingly builds pressure from isolation, joblessness and despair; another police murder of a black man arrested by white police officers under color of law for sport or, at best, no good reason; an insensitive bully for president; and, most importantly, the worst public policy known to man throughout recorded history.
What is this public policy that derails our spirit, hearts and minds?
The World War on Drugs.
James E. Gierach lives in Palos Park