Anchor Staff Writer
On Saturday, April 10, less than 10 miles from where Derek Chauvin was being tried for the murder of George Floyd, a white police officer killed yet another innocent Black person. Officer Kim Potter murdered Daunte Wright after pulling him over for having air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror. Potter had 26 years of experience and was training another officer when she killed Wright. She claims that she meant to reach for her taser but fired an “accidental discharge” from her gun. The absurdity of this claim has already been addressed countless times - the weights of these weapons are enormously different. Kim Potter had more years of experience than Daunte Wright had of life. The claim she could not tell the difference between a gun and a taser is extremely implausible. Potter has since been charged for this killing, but Wright’s family and advocates maintain that the charges brought against Potter are not severe enough for the crime.
The same day that Wright was murdered, an incident that occurred last December also came to light. Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino army officer, was assaulted in Virginia by white police officers. The police pulled him over saying they could not see his license plates, despite the fact the temporary plates on his new car were visible in the bodycam footage. When police attempted to pull him over, Nazario kept driving until he reached a well-lit gas station. Police assaulted him there, but it is likely Narzio’s decision to wait to pull over until he got to a well-lit area saved his life.
A few days after this, the bodycam footage of yet another murder committed by the police, this time of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, was released. Before the release of the footage, police claimed he was holding a gun when an officer shot him. They lied; the footage showed Toledo dropped whatever he had been holding and had his hands up before being promptly shot and murdered by a police officer.
On April 20, only 20 minutes before the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, Ma’Khia Bryant, a Black child, was murdered by Columbus Police after she called them for help.
Police violence is endemic in this country, particularly police violence against Black Americans. From policing’s origin in slave patrols to the “war on drugs” that propelled the incarceration of Black Americans for nonviolent crimes, deeply entrenched racism is in the system of police growing more apparent every day. Particularly, the “war on drugs” has given police excuses to stop Black Americans for no reason and to break into homes and brutalize people. It is not acceptable for police to brutalize anybody, guilty or innocent. The people they do are often the wrong person, such as Breonna Taylor last year, or, in 2019, a Black social worker who had been naked when the police wrongfully broke into her home and handcuffed her before allowing her to so much as get dressed. These examples are two among countless others. On average, police kill three Americans every day. Police brutality is as American as apple pie. Yet police are rarely held accountable for any violence they commit because they are shielded by qualified immunity.
A common solution that is offered every time a murder by police makes national headlines, often from political moderates and police themselves, is to simply train police more.
More training will solve nothing. We already know it does not work because it is what happens every time a case of a Black American getting brutalized by the police makes national headlines. Yet Americans, especially Americans of color, keep getting assaulted and killed by police. The reforms that have occurred across the country in response to police violence have been so small they are unlikely to make a substantial difference. For instance, the Breonna Taylor Act that banned no-knock warrants would not have saved Breonna Taylor’s life.
More training is often code for more money, even though police receive immense funds yearly and are routinely prioritized over programs that would help poor Americans like homeless shelters, affordable housing and accessible healthcare.
Rather than more money, police need substantially less. Drug raids must be banned, period. We are not at war within our own country; the police should not have military-grade equipment, period. One-in-four Americans killed by police have mental health issues; mental health workers should be called instead of police to address these crises. Moreover, the link between crime and poverty has been demonstrated by studies many times. By taking money from over-bloated police budgets and moving it to programs that will eliminate poverty like accessible food, housing and healthcare, there will be less crime and far fewer Americans murdered by police officers. Furthermore, qualified immunity must be abolished so police can be held accountable for any and all violence they commit. These are solutions that will stop police violence - more training will not.