A Letter

I applaud the mayor and the Houston chief of police for their actions removing officer Blomberg from duty for excessive force. 

 Although the jury has returned a verdict of “not guilty” in the Chad Holley-Blomberg case, I don’t believe that many can watch the video, and not feel nauseous about the degree of force that was used.  It is important to recognize that the young man was suspected of theft, and not violence or injury to others. He was 15.  Is this society so willing to defend wealth that it will trample upon the dignity and health of a young man, injuring his body and paralyzing him with fear?

My initial interest in the court case was minimal because I believe this criminal justice system to be poison to anyone who enters it. I don’t wish poison upon others even when they do harm.  I wish education, or possibly re-education, with emphasis on respect, and I don’t think prison or institutionalization is the right environment for this to occur.

 I also hate courtroom drama, the exploitation of the life of a young man or woman to send a social message through the media.  Sometimes, as in the death of Trayvon Martin, it moves to martyrdom, as a life is sacrificed in an attempt to change a law.  There is a fine line between entrapment (on both sides), and being nonviolent, or defensive, at the battlefront of a war to disarm.  I honor Trayvon for the tragedy that was the loss of his life, and for his courage.  He undoubtedly acted to save the lives and alleviate the suffering of many.  However, as in any act of war, nonviolent or violent, I believe that there are less confrontational means of changing attitudes than sacrificing or risking one’s life.  Changing attitudes requires patience and discussion.  That said, how much abuse can members of a community take without response?  It is important to define the elements of power that are oppressive, as both of these cases do.  It is so sad that, in the case of Trayvon Martin, it cost the life of a young man who undoubtedly had much to offer this world.

 I acknowledge the restraint that has thus far been exhibited by the African American community.  This community is unfairly represented in the prisons, and I advocate for the release of those who have been convicted of nonviolent offenses.  In the Chad Holley case, the degree of force used by the officers, as well as the sheer number of officers involved, sends the wrong message.  In light of this incident, the verdict, and the strong sense of fraternity among officers, I believe the entire police force needs intense reeducation and sensitization to racial issues, and, based on the video and bodily injury to the young man, every officer involved in the incident should be removed from the force, and disarmed.  One can be thankful that the young man was not shot.  Justice is not mob lynching, nor the threat of it.  The African American community at large should receive an apology for this incident, and the public at large should be made generally aware of the level of mental and physical distress (blood pressure, heart disease) provoked in the community by the video.

There are at least 2 categories of disquieting questions worthy of reflection raised by both the Trayvon Martin case and the Holley case:

 1) Questions about minorities.  Do we (this society) recognize this young man as one of our own?  A man who deserves health and respect for his body? Do we understand the difference in importance between property and a young man’s physical and mental health?  Do we respect the right of those who live among us (who might look a little different: darker skin, gay, undocumented, Jewish, Muslim, or of different opinions) to live without terror?  To live without fear of overreaction?

2) To what extent do we empower others or this physical embodiment of an abstract concept like “the law”?  Do we allow intimidation? Force? Death as tragically occurred with Trayvon Martin?




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