Many police officers within the United States are killing unarmed black men. Officers are abusing their power and doing more harm than good.
In 2015, over 1,000 black men were killed by police officers according to a study by The Guardian. The three highest profile cases of police brutality were the most controversial stories. And these took place in 2014. White officers got acquitted of all charges after killing Eric Garner, Mike Brown, and Tamir Rice.
On July 17, 2014 Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, was standing outside of a convenience store. Officer Daniel Pantaleo approached Garner and questioned him about selling illegal cigarettes.
Garner yelled for his puffer and said, “I can’t breathe” several times in a video shot by bystander Ramsey Orta. Garner died after being held in the chokehold by Pantaleo.
In the video, five officers hold Garner down. The only person arrested for this crime was Orta, the person who shot the video for “interfering with an arrest.” The officer who killed Garner was not charged.
Another case of injustice was the killing of Mike Brown. Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Brown as he was walking down the street of his neighbourhood in Ferguson, Missouri.
Eighteen-year-old Brown graduated from high school two months before he died. He was not committing a crime. He was unarmed and had his hands up. The officer claimed self-defence. Again, the officer was not charged.
Three months later, Tamir Rice who was only 12-years-old was also shot by an officer. Rice was in a park playing with a toy gun. Officer Timothy Loehmann assumed it was real and shot him.
This officer was not charged or arrested and the death was ruled a homicide. This case was widely covered because of the age of Tamir Rice as well as the number of black men who were all killed by police officers before him.
Mike Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice received no justice. None of them were armed with a weapon or committing a crime. Two years before these black men died, #BlackLivesMatter started a movement to discuss police brutality and racism.
The case which sparked the Black Lives Matter movement was the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Seventeen-year-old Martin was walking home in Miami Gardens, Florida after going to the store at night to get Skittles and iced tea. He was killed by neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty for the murder.
Although Martin was not murdered by an officer, this was still a case which did not receive justice. What links this case to other cases is the racism and brutality.
Activist groups like Black Lives Matter are making sure these stories are heard. More importantly, this movement is working towards freedom and justice.
A case closer to home was 45-year-old Andrew Loku, a black man killed by an officer last summer. He was murdered in his Toronto apartment building by an officer whose name will not be released to the public.
Black Lives Matter protesters want Toronto police to release the name of the officer so Loku and his family can receive justice.
Toronto, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed a group of protesters at Queens Park in early April and said she believes there is racism in society.
However, our society has come a long way and what is setting us back 100 years is the prejudice in the world we thought ended many decades ago.
As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” At the end of the day, all lives matter. This includes the lives of black men.