Letters to the Editor

Advocate for accountability in the justice system

Cellphone video shows caretaker Charles Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up. Kinsey was shot by North Miami, Fla., police responding to a 911 call on Monday, July 18, 2016. Kinsey was trying to convince an autistic man, seen at right, to return to a mental health facility when the police arrived. When the autistic man failed to comply with officers’ orders, one of them opened fire, hitting Kinsey in the leg. Screengrab of video provided by Hilton Napoleon
Cellphone video shows caretaker Charles Kinsey lying in the street with his hands up. Kinsey was shot by North Miami, Fla., police responding to a 911 call on Monday, July 18, 2016. Kinsey was trying to convince an autistic man, seen at right, to return to a mental health facility when the police arrived. When the autistic man failed to comply with officers’ orders, one of them opened fire, hitting Kinsey in the leg. Screengrab of video provided by Hilton Napoleon

I am writing in response to Helen Saulsbury’s letter from July 24 (“If you’re not committing a crime, you won’t get shot by police”).

Her central claim: “if you’re not committing a crime — no matter what your skin color is — you have no chance of getting shot by law enforcement” is patently false, as evidenced by the recent shooting of Charles Kinsey, a black man who explicitly told officers he was unarmed and was shot lying supine with both hands clearly raised.

It is true that black individuals are arrested, charged and incarcerated at disproportionately high rates with respect to their white counterparts. It has also been documented in numerous studies that law enforcement officials exhibit implicit, unconscious bias when assessing whether to use violent force: In responding to identical simulated crimes or suspected crimes, officers shoot black suspects at significantly higher rates than white suspects.

In other words: It is fact that black people tend to be perceived by police as more aggressive and dangerous than white people, irrespective of what they are actually doing.

Black Lives Matter has never advocated for the murder of police officers.

We do advocate for accountability in the justice system and for black individuals to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, just like everyone else.

Ben Freeman, Nipomo

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