I was alarmed by the recent turmoil and shocking images of murdered U.S. citizens shown recently on our television screens with demonstrators claiming police brutality aimed at communities of color. The angry demonstrators blocked traffic in most major cities of the United States as they were chanting “No justice! – No peace!” Nationwide demonstrations spread from Ferguson to New York, to Los Angeles, to Cleveland and Chicago with our citizens emotions literally boiling over, being inflamed by the recent killings of members of the black and Hispanic communities in particular by officers of the Police Departments in various cities. To mention a few, as a result of these violent and unjustified murders several people were killed: Michael Brown in Ferguson (shot dead with his arms up), Eric Garner in New York City (died from a fatal choke hold by a police officer), a 12-year-old, Tamir Rice in Cleveland (shot dead by a policeman, while playing with a toy gun), and Timothy Russell and Melinda Williams (intercepted 137 bullets by police assault while in their car, where no weapons were found). Sadly there were also numerous other cases in Los Angeles and other cities with seemingly no end in sight for this shameful confrontation between our Police Departments personnel and members of the community, especially people of color, over the past few years.
These widespread demonstrations reminded me of the fiery nationwide revolt, which spread like wildfire all over the United States following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in 1968. They also brought to memory my own childhood years, growing up in Egypt. The police there are trained and ordered never to shoot-to-kill a fleeing suspect or a felon, and if they absolutely must shoot, the policeman should aim for the legs, but never at a vital organ. Years later I went to college on a seven-year scholarship to the X-Soviet Union in Moscow, USSR, where I noticed that the Russian police upon controlling crowds and traffic in Moscow, never carried guns or at least never had them drawn for all seven years that I spent in Moscow studying Engineering sciences. Upon referring to their police force practices, the Russian citizens always repeated with pride “Maya Militsia menya Zashishayet” which in translation from Russian means “My militia is for my protection.” For all seven years I have never seen a bloody clash between the Russian law enforcement personnel and the residents of Moscow. Later on in the mid 1960’s I emigrated to the United States of America during the civil rights struggle led by Dr. Martin Luther King, culminating in the 1968 revolt nationwide, as I stood there with Americans, blacks and whites of all ethnicities in Central Park, in New York City, mourning the death of Dr. King, and with all singing with teary eyes “We shall overcome. ….”, while our beloved nation was engaged in a raging vicious war in Vietnam. By mid-nineteen-seventies I decided to pursue my PhD degree in Cambridge, England. I spent four years in the United Kingdom, and at no time have I ever seen the British police with their guns drawn, or even carried by them on any occasion.
The police training and protective gear provided for policemen in Egypt, Russia and the United Kingdom is quite unlike what we have here in the United States of America. Perhaps one good reason here is that the United States Constitution, as drafted by our Founding Fathers grants for the American citizens the right to bear arms. So the American Police must expect that the average citizen could be armed at any time of public confrontation with police personnel. To complicate matters further, the individual States have differing systems of laws among all fifty States, and each state has total control over the police personnel training, and rules of engagement therein. This in turn leaves room for human racial prejudice in some states, whereby certain citizens may be stripped of their constitutional rights upon arrest by the police, such as the right to call in an attorney, or to make a phone call, and to be treated with respect, and to be assumed innocent until proven guilty. None of these constitutional rights were clearly granted to any of the victims mentioned above, thereby triggering the nationwide outcries “No justice! – No peace!”
As Uncle Sam myself with a dual Egyptian and American heritage and being blessed with utmost care and love for the United States of America, in my view here is what we need to do:
- Police training must be revisited at the Federal Government level by appointing a Special Prosecutor and a Federal Commission that will review the individual States’ practices and laws regarding rules of engagement of law-enforcement personnel versus community members with the objective of making the rules uniform, fair and in accordance with the United States Constitution, befitting a civilized society, not a police state. For example certain violent and often deadly practices allowed in some states must be totally banned, and namely: The choke hold, Tasering, shooting a suspect in a vital organ, violent beating with batons when the person is already down on the ground, etc. This corrective action will clearly require a substantial Federal Budget allocation, which must be authorized by the United States Congress, and signed into law and implemented by the Executive Branch of the United States Government.
- The law enforcement personnel must not enter any property for inspection without a court order to be forwarded to the residents. Guns may not be drawn while on the property, unless there is a genuine threat of attack on the law-enforcement personnel who must then defend themselves.
- American citizens desiring to bear arms as per their constitutional rights must have all such weapons properly registered within their State of residence, and must not be allowed to acquire or carry automatic assault weapons or any armed-forces type weapons of any kind at any time.
- All citizens of the United States must be assumed “innocent until proven guilty.” A jailed person has, and must not be stripped of his, or her civil, and human rights granted to them by the United States Constitution. Inhumane forms of punishments such as solitary confinement must be banned.
Some of you may have read my First Prayer for America (by Uncle Sam, i.e. me) in my Poetry Book “The Long Goodbye” published in the wake of the horrifying catastrophe of September 11, 2001, in which I exposed “Bush’s Lies” in a seven-part YouTube Video Documentary entitled “September 11: A self-inflicted Wound.” If interested you may click on my Books Website www.elsoudanibooks.com , to “Read More”, and to watch my seven-part video poem (from a pull-down menu) entitled “Bush’s Lies.” That was my “First Prayer for America” poem, in which I was referring to January 20th, 2009, as “the Day of Sunshine.” That was the day of inauguration of the first black President of the United States, Barak Obama, replacing “the Long Goodbye”, which is my poetic code-name reference to George W. Bush. There I suggested that this blessed day be established as a National Holiday on a par with the Fourth of July, as I stated the following:
And let us pray that it is the day
When Americans have overpowered the dragon of racial prejudice
With all ethnicities and races living in harmony upholding justice – – – – – – – – – – – –
And let us pray that it is the day
When the same set of laws are upheld
By all Branches of U.S. Government
For themselves as for their subjects,
For rich and poor, in democracy and enlightenment
And let us pray that it is the day
When America’s self-imposed prison gates,
Were flung wide open, free at last, free at last
With American citizens welcome everywhere
as friends or angels, not someone to blast
And indeed let us rejoice now and forever In the blessed arrival of the last day of the Long Goodbye