Police brutality against minorities — particularly African-Americans — has been running rampant in the United States with seemingly no end in sight. As a result, communities of color are becoming increasingly fed up and angry.
This unwavering pattern is one of the core issues that sparked the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement.
Proponents of the movement have been responsible for both peaceful and violent protests in recent years — including the Ferguson, Missouri riots following the death of Michael Brown — but, leaders of the movement have not actively promoted violence.
As police brutality persists; however, the question has been raised whether or not a violent uprising is the country’s last hope of stopping law enforcement from carelessly killing people.
Creating armed civilian militias to protect communities of color from law enforcement may pose a significant threat to the police and thus force them to think twice before firing their guns.
However, there are some relevant roadblocks that would likely hinder such a vigilante movement’s success.
1) Communities of color would actually become more vulnerable:
Organizing civilian militias would promote the idea that people of color are to be feared, which is already an underlying issue that fuels police brutality.
Take the recent shooting of Philando Castile, for example. He respectfully forewarned the officer who pulled him over that he was armed and licensed to carry. He simply reached for his documentation to show the cop, but was shot dead in front of his fiancée and her toddler daughter.
The cop who shot Castile very clearly acted out of fear. If vigilante militias were implemented, cops would have a valid reason to argue their fear of armed, angry civilians and justify their “need” to constantly be ready to shoot.
Furthermore, the double-standard already exists in which members of law enforcement often get to walk away from their crimes, while blacks and Latinos together make up approximately 59% of the U.S. prison population, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
Therefore, it is more likely that members of these militias will see the inside of a jail for defending themselves against police.
Another vulnerability these militias would face is the inevitable fact that law enforcement and the government will join forces to disband them.
Is it a coincidence that Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Huey P. Newton — three prominent figures during the Civil Rights Movement with different approaches to achieving the same goal — all ended up killed?
You could argue that Newton and Malcolm X were murdered by “their own” people — but the effort to pit citizens against these “radical” leaders was initiated by a stronger force.
Even if you choose to ignore the “conspiracy” theory surrounding these leaders’ deaths, it is certainly no secret that law enforcement, government officials, and the FBI had a watchful eye over the movement and did not respond favorably to the public dissent that they sparked.
Black Lives Matter — which is also under surveillance — is being treated the same way.
2) More armed civilians is counterproductive to the fight for better gun control measures:
Amid the current mass shooting epidemic, it has become apparent that more must be done to keep guns out of the hands of those who are irresponsible and/or mentally ill. Several states have gun laws that are just too lax, which leaves the window open for just about anyone to legally own a deadly firearm.
A prime example of this is the Orlando, Florida shooter Omar Mateen who, despite having been on the terror watch list, legally acquired a military-style rifle which allowed him to carry out the worst shooting massacre in recent U.S. history.
It is likely that people will tarnish the noble efforts of responsible civilian militias by using them as an excuse to carry out senseless crimes.
There is no justice or honor in taking the lives of innocent officers who were not posing any threat to civilians at the time of their deaths.
There is a general consensus that something must be done, but views on how to achieve peace vary — yet, there is no “right” answer.
One thing we know is that a systemic change is ultimately necessary to make the quality of life better for generations to come. Without systemic change, history only repeats itself, as we are seeing today. The goal should be progression, not regression.
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