The film does not lie. What happened to a young black man in Memphis, pulled over for reckless driving – an arrest with no evidence, pepper sprayed until he fled, run down, then brutally beaten by five black police officers – leading to his death – was an act of animal inhumanity. Anyone watching is left numb. The young man cries for his mother. How can this happen – in America?
That question is actually five or six questions, packaged as one. First, how do we begin to explain – which we must as a Nation – to ourselves, to the world, and to the family of the young man killed that we are not this kind of nation, not indifferent to this kind of brutality, but just the reverse?
How do we demonstrate that we are a nation that is compassionate, seeks not only justice retroactively for such animal inhumanity, but fairness and decency proactively, at home as abroad? How do we take acts of such unforgivable cruelty, undeniable facts before an unblinking camera, and make things right?
In tandem with that haunting question, is another. How do we convey to each other, black to black, white to black, white to white, black to white – that we understand this behavior to be intolerable, fundamentally un-American, anti-American, inhumane, unacceptable, and barbaric?
While barbarity by anyone motivated by racism is without justification, the specific acts in that film from Memphis were committed by those in uniform. Law enforcement is not systemically racist, but these acts committed by those in uniform disgrace a noble profession, one characterized by those who serve at enormous personal risk every day – who are by their very nature other-regarding, service oriented, and heroic.
How does this noble profession make sense of such an incident of barbarism, raw inhumanity, stunning abuse, a disgrace to the profession? How do other law enforcement officers convey that this is not they?
Deeper still, what does this tell us about how we are evolving as a society – forward or backward? Toward greater understanding, patience, decency, and resetting expectations higher and with empathy, striving to do better – or the reverse, giving up, allowing aggressive passions to control us?
In a more practical sense, what are we doing – and not doing – that allows such horrific acts? If the society is becoming more course, less self-aware, less idealistic, less honorable, less interested in accountability for those in authority – from law enforcement to politics – how do we reverse that?
Answers are not hard to find, just hard to implement. With a deep breath, let me speak them aloud. Somewhere within that disbanded unit in Memphis, and in our larger society, we have allowed inhumanity to seed and grow, as if it did not matter, as if we do not matter to each other, as if evil is somehow permissible. Those officers did not check each other, stop each other, or understand the moral imperative.
As a society, we seem increasingly content to “look away” for personal, political, legal, racial, and ultimately immoral reasons – from the credo that we know we should abide. We know we are expected by an omniscient God, once loving parents, those who know us, and ourselves to do what is right. Yet many in society have allowed their conscience to be dulled, a thing that creeps until it explodes.
So, how do we get back to what is right? How does American society restore the understanding that we are a compassionate people, prevent this kind of inhumanity, speak openly to each other about restored understanding, affirm faith and trust in those who serve – especially law enforcement? How do we use this horrific film – hard to un-remember – to shape a better future?
The answer is we must universally condemn cruelty, let the legal process work, murder charges play out. We must affirm who we are in how we personally treat others, speak with others, and make real the idea that this society is different, that we can cooperate on moral and trusting terms.
Finally, we must look closer to home, recruit with care those who lead and serve, including law enforcement. We must – contrary to what the senseless rioters believe in Atlanta – have facilities, curriculum, and seasoned leaders to train young law enforcement officers well. We must – every day – expect of ourselves and of those who serve us, the best they can deliver.
Most importantly we must resoundingly admit it when we see it and can prove it in a court of law: malpractice in law enforcement (just as we condemn bad surgeons or erratic school bus drivers) will have consequences, as no one in America is above the law, not even those who enforce the law.
If we do these things, we will restore trust in our leaders, law enforcement, and each other. We will reaffirm what this nation is premised on, honor, faith, and rule of law. Until then, we must wrestle with the facts as they confront us, especially in this case, have patience as the law works, honor each other with compassion. Bad things happen everywhere, even in America – and our aim must be to minimize, deter, and prevent them. Sometimes you have to take stock of what is. The film does not lie.
These are the sad lessons of Memphis.
Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.
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This article provides many good ideas for having a true sense of hope — for a better future for the country. There are many things at the foundation of how to fix what needs to be fixed ,in order to have a society where compassion, fairness, decency are strengthened , and at the ready in times that require what could be called emergency action,such as a situation involving law enforcement.
You stated in the article ” We must affirm who we are in how we personally treat others ,speak with others, and make real the idea that this society is different, that we can cooperate on moral and trusting terms.” I like that sentiment, it is the at the foundation of good communication, which leads to better understanding. I would like to think that the Sermon on the Mount , what Christ taught , would be part of law enforcement training.
Respect for the idea of doing what is right, combined with a sense of purpose, and a code of conduct will help with making the needed improvements. The term ” Let Liberty be the watchword.” is good and I like ” Let Respect be the watchword.” as well.
Thanks for the very thoughtful, and Important article Robert B. Charles
First it was the democRATS call to defund the police, which resulted with any police within retirement age, leaving. Crime spikes, and citizens complain, then comes lax hiring practices and ” box checking” requirements……The video shows the results
We’re even worse than that! How many innocent unborn babies have been murdered by torture (abortion)? Think about it!
When you remove God from the public sector, it leaves a void in which ancient spirits move in. One of those spirits is Molech, the destroyer. The spirit of violence, death and destruction. Look no further if you don’t believe me, what is the majority of entertainment now? Graphic violence. Even children’s cartoons are now violent. The only thing that will stop this unholy trend in our country is mass revival. Otherwise, God will end Blessing America and our country will be just like the violence in the movies and TV. This is not hit more than spiritual warfare.
Candace Gonzalez is right! President Trump had absolutely nothing to do with this Police brutality in Memphis. Liberal media and and the leftist population of this country hate Trump so much that they want to blame him for everything from the US civil war to Putin’s poor military preparedness!
If you’ve never lived in Memphis or West Memphis then you can’t fully understand what law enforcement officials face on a daily basis!
I’m not defending the actions of these officers, But I am saying, don’t blame uninvolved people for the actions of others!
Any public effort to tie the police brutality incident in Memphis to Trump shows how desperate and out of touch with reality that the liberal bozo chimps are in our society. And such nonsense is starting to invade liberal news bias as well.
When we loose respect for any life we are doomed for failure. When we loose respect for unity in diversity we are doomed for failure. When we loose respect for the freedoms that America was founded on we are doomed for failure. When we respect others and treat them as we desire to be treated, them we can come together and reason together to understand one another. Our government especially has failed Americans and the people weep because of their indifference and their lack of desire to serve the people, instead they serve themselves. God have mercy on us for we are a desperate people.
That’s LOSE, not LOOSE, I see these two words confused too many times
Could be she/he meant “loosen” rather than “loose” as a result of a typo????? Anyway, I’m not lost in discerning the concept presented!!
Ecclesiastes 8:11 states ” When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel it is safe to do wrong.” (NLT). There are consequences to electing and tolerating lawless politicians and officials. As a nation, we must insist that we all do what is right based on the Constitution and laws of our land. You speak correctly when you say “no one is above the law.” There must be accountability for all, even those who hold the highest offices in this land!! This, coupled with treating everyone with dignity and respect, will reverse the senselessness we are seeing far too often.
I’m pretty sure that city has been run by Democrats for many years.
We need to pray about this country and come together as people not black, white, green, yellow. We are all of the same blood because of the Cross of Jesus. He died for us all so we need to get it right this time. I will join in any way to get this going. We are the vessels, use us LORD.
I agree with with you 100%
Thank you, Martha. It’s time for Christians to stand up for God and treat their fellowmen and women with respect.
We have a lot of problems in America but if we put God first, listen and obey Him and work together, we will see our country turn around for the better. It’s time to be courageous and stand for Christian values that have made our nation strong.
I’m white. I was at the airport this morning waiting for the shuttle bus. There was a black woman going to work also waiting. I didn’t know her. I struck up a conversation and was nice to her as she was to me. We both found common ground. It’s not hard to do. It’s based on Love.
It is easy to stop law enforcement’s criminal behavior: Abolish Qualified Immunity. NOW. cato.org/qualified-immunity
The 5 police were all charged with murder
I think “manslaughter” might be more appropriate … and more appropriate and realistic to pursue!
Very well said. Nothing to add here.
This sad but predictable tragedy is the natural response by police to their perceived betrayal by the judicial system. They made no effort to arrest their victim; they were sending a message to the hard cases in the community, by doing their policing behind the dumpsters. Since jail is no longer an option, they’re sending them to hospitals and cemeterys.
oh yeah your white lol
That’s right, Mike. The 5 police officers are all black. The police chief of Memphis is black. Memphis is a majority black city. Memphis has had a Democratic mayor since 1968. So it’s definitely the fault of those evil white Republicans.
I watched the approximately 1/2-hour video. Of course, it was brutal and should never have happened. No one should die after being stopped for driving erratically. What I don’t understand is why the 5 or 10 officers standing there didn’t cuff the man, put him in a vehicle, and take him to the police station. Why wait so long?
Why didn’t the officers have enough morality to notice what was happening and stop his actions AND STOP his other guys (I won’t call these 6 guys Police Officers because that term would be an insult to other REAL Police Officers) from what they were doing? When they acted as thugs, they actually quit the profession.Unfortunately, the 2 Paramedics were terminated because they “failed to do their job” and provide aid to the victim. Probably because out of fear from those thugs. Paramedics are told “Do NOT get involved, until told to do so”. The Paramedics failed to have the morality to step in without “orders” and provide aid to an injured person. The Fireman also failed to actually notice those actions, even though he was dispatched to the scene.Unfortunately, the victim died of his injuries.The only reason this story is Headline News is because of the actions of those thugs in Police uniforms, hiding behind the Badge of Authority, expressing their frustration on an innocent person. They violated their oath of authority, thereby sealing their future as former Law Enforcement Officers.
What happened is a result of wrong thing individuals like you. An infection has set in as a result.
“how do we begin to explain” “How do we demonstrate”
We ensure the judicial review and resulting justice is carried out. Why do we need to condemn ourselves for the actions of others. Wrong actions should result in consequences. Taking each incident involved a minority as an opportunity to beat up our society is just wrong.
Nichols was stopped for reckless driving. He had to be pulled out of his car. He tried to run from police. None of this is shown. He resisted and was beaten.
This is part of the picture that is not shown to us.
None of that, NONE of it justifies the response. Period. If you cannot see that then 1000 words will nut suffice.
Yes, I agree with you .. none of that will “nut” suffice!!!!!
Why is there only talk of police reform and never any talk of crime reform. None of these over reactive incidents would have happened if crimes had not been committed in the first place. The solving of everything by violence is taught continually by Hollywood–that would be a good place to start reforming of bad behavior since schools and families don’t seem to be able to do it anymore. Show a few good examples for a change.
So true, break the cycle of fatherless families. Women quit sleeping with these loosers and reproducing.
I am not giving these officers a pass just because they may have had probable cause to make a traffic stop.
Not an issue of giving the Police a “pass” because they made a legal, justified traffic stop. The issue is the degree of force used to solicit cooperation of the suspect in the incident … and possibly some level of self-protection for the police was an issue. Hard to know for certain until all facts are known. However, most of the known facts related to the incident is that both the perp and the police were out of line with the law at some point.
And most particularly, the known facts related to who did what after the suspect was handcuffed.
Go away, troll!