Melinda Dome/Collegian
Melinda Dome/Collegian

By Davey Smith

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

These words were written for the Declaration of Independence, and were supposed to reflect our national ideals. Over the years, we have become more accepting of people who are different from ourselves, maybe getting closer to this ideal, but there is still discrimination.

Slavery cost many their freedom, discrimination now prevents the pursuit of happiness through a good job or other things, and many lives have been lost because of racial profiling and hate.

“Black lives matter.” This is one of many slogans used in protests across the country. After the death of Michael Brown in August of 2014, the major news outlets have covered many incidents of reportedly unnecessary killings of blacks by police.

Those who say the killings are unjustifiable say that the police should be protecting us, as citizens and especially minority groups, and we should never have to fear that the ones whose duty it is to protect us would harm us.

As law enforcement officers, these men and women are responsible for the protection of the American citizens, be they African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian, or anything else, without regard to skin color. However, they have an additional responsibility.

As a civilized country, we have laws — laws that help protect us and keep our country running. The police are the ones who are supposed to enforce those to keep us safe.

While on duty, a police officer is a public servant, and as such may often have to make hard decisions. One of these can be whether to take a life, or take a chance that they themselves or another innocent person will be harmed. These choices are hard, as it is not a choice that most of us are accustomed to making.

Black lives do matter, especially in cases that show clear marks of racial profiling, but I think we are too quick now to say that anything having to do with a person who has darker skin must be because of their skin color. It is an undeniable fact that race is still an issue, but many refuse to admit any other cause for these cases of violence.

Whether these police officers have been unjust in shootings or have made poor decisions in a heated moment, they have been placed in a position of authority.

These protests have undermined police authority, causing some groups to decide that it is OK to fight back against law enforcement.

This has likely been the cause of some of the shootings in the past months where police have been ambushed, or have been shot at during protests. This is supposedly for the sake of justice, because the police are being racist and unfair.

Life matters, regardless of skin color. But as long as we persist in separating people by race, I don’t think things will improve.

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