Time For A New Night Out

Rodney King beaten by LA police 1991. Original video shot by George Holliday (fair use)

Rodney King beaten by LA police 1991. Original video shot by George Holliday (fair use)

On August 7, 1984, the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) had the first National Night Out. National Night Out was (and is) intended to be an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, and neighborhood camaraderie. Since its beginning, National Night Out has grown to include over 37 million people and over 16,000 communities nationwide.

However, what happens when the police aren’t so much protecting as they are terrorizing the community? We’ve been seeing examples of this more and more often; from the militarization of our police departments to the increasing number of excessive force incidents to the racial profiling of our citizens under such programs as stop and frisk to the cold blooded murder of innocent people.

Yesterday, we saw a prime example of the latter in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown, a young man who was supposed to start college tomorrow, was shot multiple times in the back by a Ferguson police officer on Saturday afternoon as he was walking to his grandmother’s house.

Local residents were understandably upset and angry over the shooting, with some of the residents screaming threats to “kill the police.” Confrontation between the police and residents escalated, with 100 police cars from 15 different departments eventually being called to the scene.

Unfortunately, incidents like this are becoming more and more common. Back in April, the U.S. Justice Department released a report criticizing the Albuquerque, New Mexico police department for a longstanding history of police brutality and unnecessary deadly force. And, last month we had the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD. 

Now, we at Occupy World Writes aren’t saying all police are bad; far from it. They do an unfortunately necessary job that we ourselves could never do, and they witness horrors we can only imagine in the darkest corners of our imaginations. However, the number of bad apples who find their way into the police departments across the nation is frightening, to put it mildly.

The original intent of the National Night Out was to foster good police-community relations, and to show that the community stood together to fight crime. But what about the crimes committed by the police? Isn’t it time we stand together as a community and say that such behavior by the people who are supposed to protect us is unacceptable?

We need a new Night Out; one of communities standing united against police overreach and brutality.

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