There have been a lot of news stories lately that have made me feel powerless, like there is no protection for people even – perhaps especially – from those who have been given the job of protecting those who can’t protect themselves. The Ferguson, MO case of Michael Brown is perhaps the one closest to me, since I only recently moved from St. Louis, and a number of people who I know and care about are still in the area and may be affected by this case and all the fallout. But there are more – the case of Eric Garner in New York; the case of Tamir Rice in Cleveland; the case of Rosendo Gino Rodriquez in Midland, Texas. Those are just the ones I’ve read about recently; there are probably more. These things scare me, because the people who are committing the acts of violence here are supposed to protect the people they kill. Personally, as a mentally ill person, the last story, of Rosendo Rodriquez, scares me the most – that could easily have been me.
When I last tried to kill myself – in January of last year – my family thought, though erroneously, that I was staying with some friends in another city. So when they read the note I had sent, they called the police and had police sent to the house where my friends live. If the police in that case had been jumpier, or thought I was a danger, and had assumed danger to themselves that was not in evidence, they could easily have stormed into the house of my friends and injured them – and I wasn’t even there. They could easily have done that when I was found, hallucinating, in St. Louis.
Things like this make me feel a very profound sense of fear and despair. How can we be safe if the people whose job it is to protect us are apparently so jumpy that even the smallest of things can set us on the path to injury or worse? And worse, how can we feel safe if these same people can cause injury to us and then suffer no consequences? If anything, their job is so important that they should be more accountable to the law, not less. Otherwise, they lose the trust of the people they protect – and then they become less protectors, and more jailers.
I know there are good people doing their jobs as protectors. I know that they may very well be in the majority. But unless they speak out against those who aren’t taking this duty they have assumed seriously – those who are injuring the very people they have sworn to protect – then how can they expect us to trust them? Why should we, if their loyalty to those who happen to wear the same uniform – even as they degrade and desecrate that same uniform – is greater than to those they have sworn oaths to protect?
There’s always hope, but I don’t have a great deal of it right now.