I’ve been watching all the commentary and punditry surrounding these recent police shootings in the news. Folks are coming up with curt slogans and railing about conversations on race. However, there is a very simple lesson to be learned from the events of Ferguson, Staten Island, Missoula Montana, Brooklyn and now in Orlando — the actions of an individual have consequences.
It seems everyone has forgotten a fundamental principle — individual responsibility and accountability. Lost in many of the conversations is a foundational fact — individuals made decisions, a choice based upon their freewill, that led to a consequence.
We seem to find it much easier — at least some do — to search and place blame elsewhere and never ponder why did someone place themselves into a certain situation in the first place? I understand emotions and the problem when people stop being rational and lean towards emotional, then it seems the consequence ends up being small business owners who see their livelihoods burned to the ground.
Let’s start with the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. This young black man awoke that fateful last day in his life with the freewill afforded to all Americans. He possessed the unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But at some point in that day, young Mr. Brown used his God-given right to make a decision to go and steal from a store and assault a store owner.
He further made the decision to assault a police officer, who was sitting in his vehicle and attempted to take his service weapon. Michael Brown somehow decided that his “pursuit of happiness” was more important than the rule of law and the delicate balance of society that protects others from the unlawful actions of another. No one told Michael Brown to take these actions, he made those decisions, and sorrowfully, when he decided to charge Officer Darren Wilson, he surrendered those rights, which he had upon awakening that day.Now, many want to make the Ferguson case about Darren Wilson and race. Those are the ones who are evading the real issue — why did Michael Brown feel that his freewill outweighed the freedoms and liberties of others? What made him believe that his individual decision didn’t have any consequence — and why do some in America feel he wasn’t not responsible for his actions? Why hasn’t this been part of the dialogue? Seems the low hanging fruit and easy target is the officer — perhaps it would be preferable that he would have lost his life? God knows we have many law enforcement officers who do, such as Virginia reserve officer, Captain Kevin Quick. “Hands up, don’t shoot” is nothing more than an empty token slogan — not to mention a false narrative — offered by those who don’t wish to ponder this case at its beginning…the moment Michael Brown entered the convenience store — work back from there if you really want to solve the case.
Then there’s the case of Eric Garner in Staten Island. Again, many want to impose race upon the situation. Well, here are some facts:
1. A crackdown on the sale of “loosie” cigarettes has been ordered by NYPDs highest ranking black officer, Phillip Banks
2.The NYPD was responding to calls in the case of Eric Garner based on complaints from black business owners
3.Eric Garner’s arrest was ordered by a black officer and supervised by a black female NYPD Sergeant,
4. Garner had been arrested 31 times and eight of those had been for selling loosies. His rap sheet goes back decades and includes arrests for assault and grand larceny
5. At the time of his death, Garner was out on bail after being charged with multiple offenses, including illegal sale of cigarettes, marijuana possession, false impersonation and driving without a license.
So again, do we completely dismiss the responsibility of the individual residing in a civil society based on the rule of law? And when confronted for arrest, why not make the decision to comply, instead of resisting? Mr. Garner didn’t lose his life due to asphyxiation, he died as a result of poor health and cardiac arrest. Mr. Garner was obese and had a history of asthma, diabetes, and other health issues resulting from his poor medical condition.
At no time was it the intent to kill Mr. Garner — it was about subduing him, but the manner used was indeed not an approved technique — and the Officer has paid the price for that decision. He has lost his job. Sadly, Officer Darren Wilson lost his job when doing nothing wrong. Yes, Garner stated, “I can’t breathe,” but he stated so quite often — trust me, I’ve trained in hand-to-hand combatives, and had the breath knocked out of me on several occasions. If you can’t breathe you don’t have the breath to say so.
Eric Garner struggled to breathe by simply walking. The real issue in this case is health among black men and criminal behavior. Somewhere along the line of life, Eric Garner made decisions that had an adverse affect upon his life and health — and the consequences of his continued criminal behavior led to his tragic death.
So, for those NBA players wearing t-shirts that say “I Can’t Breathe” ask yourself, if you have a bad night on the court and get benched, is your benching the coach’s fault or the result and consequences of your poor play?
Black lives do matter but yet again, another trite slogan from people who cared little for Eric Garner’s chronic health issues — and Obamacare ain’t the answer. These same people care little about the millions of black lives lost from abortion or the hundreds of black young male lives lost in gang violence and black on black crime. Just more cherry picking for selective political gain — “never let a good crisis go to waste.”
Out in Missoula, Montana we have the case of Markus Kaarma who in late April fatally shot 17-year-old Diren Dede after being alerted by a motion detector in his garage. Defense attorneys argue the man was protecting himself and his family from an intruder. However, the prosecution states that Kaarma — who had been the victim of previous burglaries — lured this young man in to be shot. Now, I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it does present another interesting issue — Kaarma left his garage for open and it has been presented that there was a purse in plain sight. This reminded me of trappers — or even back when I was growing up knowing you had a mouse in the pantry. In order to catch the mouse you set out a trap with cheese or something enticing for the mouse — and in the morning chances are you’d find the mouse, trapped, dead.
But my question here is simple. Why did young Mr. Dede make the decision to go into someone else’s garage? Young Mr. Dede’s decision led to a consequence that again, tragically resulted in his life. Mr. Dede was responsible for his actions because at some time he was no different than the mouse, who sought to get the cheese. This young man could have gone on his way and bypassed trouble — but he did not. His decision. His consequence.
I have to wonder if the NYPD will be praised by the masses — as they have been vilified — after the shooting of a Brooklyn synagogue attacker? As the New York Post reports, “Calvin Peters, a black man, entered into the world headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch in Crown Heights happened shortly after 1 a.m. A Chabad spokesman said witnesses reported that the man said “Kill the Jews.” And the result was Peters’ unleashing a knife and attacking Levi Rosenblat, a young rabbinical student from Israel. The 22-year-old is in stable condition at Kings County Hospital. Mr Peters made a decision and even after being asked to put down his weapon by responding NYPD officers, then went back to pick up his knife. Therefore the consequence of his decision was his death.
You just have to ask, will this get the massive amount of news coverage as with Michael Brown or Eric Garner? What will be the words coming from the mouth of New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio — was this racist? Shouting “kill the Jews,” will that now be turned into a slogan?
It’s easy to run out into the streets to yell, shout, or lay down and obstruct others. But America, individuals make decisions, and when they make really bad decisions there are consequences to them. The ability to live in a free and civil society also comes with a high cost — individual responsibility.