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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

Not another Ferguson

More than 300 people showed up to discuss the edgy relationship between Indianapolis citizens and the city police force at a forum Monday night at Martin University, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Attendees tried to answer one crucial question: “Is Indy a Ferguson waiting to happen?”

The quick answer is no. If we look at Ferguson, Mo., as a comparison, we should never see the Indiana capital go up in flames — at least not in terms of political riots and police brutality. Alien invasion is completely out of our hands.

Ferguson began to crumble in August when officer Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old. Specifics of the incident are still blurry. Some say Wilson shot in self-defense, and some say Brown was surrendering when he was killed.

Either way, a teenager lost his life, and the city reacted with marches and mass looting. This resulted in a militarized police force driving tanks through the city streets, throwing tear gas at crowds and shooting ?citizens with rubber bullets.

It’s easy to imagine why residents of Indianapolis are concerned about the future of their city. In June, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox acquired an MRAP, a bulletproof military tank, from military surplus supplies. Johnson County was just one of eight counties in Indiana to receive an MRAP.

After seeing how Ferguson police acted with this type of equipment after the death of Michael Brown, Indianapolis residents’ fears and concerns are valid and justifiable. Especially when, as it was revealed at the forum, there is already a lack of trust between the police force and the citizens in ?Indianapolis.

And it all came down to race. As the Indianapolis Star’s Robert King pointed out, the majority of the forum’s ?attendees were black.

One woman at the forum was quoted saying, “We don’t tell our black sons the same things that white women tell their sons.”

Black people don’t feel protected by the police. They feel targeted.

Too many stereotypes cloud the judgment of people not of color. They see a black boy walking down a street with baggy pants and gold chains around his neck and think “drug dealer” or “gangster” — he’s off to cause trouble, whereas the white boy walking on the other side of the street is likely just going to a friend’s house.

The Michael Brown case didn’t help anything, nor did the death of 18-year-old Vonderrit Deondre Myers or 16-year-old Kimani Gray or 19-year-olds Kendrec McDade and Timothy ?Stansbury Jr.

All but one of these young men were unarmed at the time at their deaths, all at the hands of police officers.

It was a similar situation that prompted riots in France in 2005.

This trend is what causes distrust between citizens and the police. The police are supposed to protect us, but as instances such as these shootings continue, we have to wonder who ?protects us from them.

Indianapolis doesn’t have to be the next Ferguson. We have a chance to fix our capital before disaster strikes.

We need to build a better relationship between citizens and the police, not just in Indianapolis but in cities throughout the state.

Police need more training and they need to be ?evaluated.

A racist person has no place in the police force. If they can’t think and treat everyone equally, they cannot possibly protect everyone equally.

Citizens need to understand that in the face of tragedy, looting and rioting is not the right response.

You can be angry. You can be sad. But tearing your city apart solves nothing. It’s been almost two months, and Ferguson is still in ?pieces.

If we put effort into changing both sides, there should never be another Ferguson.

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