‘Select groups of people still can’t get over the idea of equality between races’

By James Morris

Martese Johnson is a third-year student at the University of Virginia and is the only black on the University’s honor committee. UVA is one of the top prestigious universities in the entire world, and the city of Charlottesville happens to be a place I call home.

Johnson was denied entry at a local bar, because his ID was suspected to be fake. He cooperated with the bouncer and was on his way, until Alcoholic Beverage Control officers threw him on the concrete, giving him a bloody face. His injuries required over ten stitches.

The ABC officers said Johnson was belligerent and uncooperative, but the bouncer disagreed. The bouncer described Johnson as a gentleman. Johnson was charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice without force. UVA students outside the bar were angry and couldn’t believe that one of their peers was being beaten by the police.

This has to stop.

Within the past couple of years, the African- American community has been on edge because of the police brutality that is happening to their people for no reason.

Racism is still alive and well. Unfortunately, select groups of people still can’t get over the idea of equality between races. Trayvon Martin was murdered for just walking home. Eric Garner was put in a chokehold (and died an hour later) by multiple police officers, just for suspicion of selling single cigarettes. Tamir Rice was killed by a police officer for suspicion of reaching to his waist for a gun which was later announced to be an Airsoft gun. Unarmed Michael Brown was killed in broad daylight by a police officer, and his lifeless body remained in the middle of the street for quite some time. Members of the African-American community are outraged, because they believe that their race isn’t treated as fairly as other races. This has to stop.

However, in Charlottesville a couple of years ago, Elizabeth Daly, a UVA student, was terrorized by ABC officers. She didn’t know they were officers, at the time. ABC agents surrounded her car, and one agent jumped on her hood and raised a gun. She drove away frantically and clipped a couple of officers, thinking that these people were trying to hurt her and her friends. Seven ABC agents were involved and approached her vehicle. They thought she purchased alcohol underage, because she looked younger than 21. She was charged with three felonies, but a few months later her charges were dropped and she was awarded more than $212,500.

I think ABC officers should not have law enforcement powers. ABC officers should not be able to arrest people. These officers tend to be overly aggressive and do not have all the facts needed to arrest people. They just flat-out throw out all the rules and arrest people on the spot.

Every human should be treated fairly. As a nation we have to come together and figure out why horrific things like this happen, regardless of race. Nobody should be beaten by law enforcement, unless the officers feel that their lives are threatened. The common denominator seems to be that law enforcement uses that excuse every time, whether somebody is selling a single cigarette or being accused of having a fake ID.

This needs to stop.

Whether you’re a police officer or an ABC officer, you should be required to wear a body camera. Our world is getting crazier and crazier each and every day. The United States is taking steps to implement this rule. As of the early months of 2015, one third of police departments have issued body cameras to their officers. Police Chief Frank Milstead from Arizona said, “Everybody acts better when they’re on camera.” Ever since the wearing of body cameras has been strictly enforced, there have been about 60 percent fewer complaints from civilians and about 90 percent fewer incidents of excessive force. One step at a time, we can make the community and law enforcement have a better relationship.