Whenever a new video surfaces of police brutality I refuse to engage. I emotionally do not have the strength to do so. That is how much I see these acts taking place, frequently enough that I am numb. Numb to the fact that some of us need protection from the ones that should be protecting us.
On April 16 2019, Yale University Police fired 20 shots at a red Honda Civic in New Haven, Connecticut. In the police body cam footage, a black man with dreadlocks is seen stepping out of the car and raising his hands into the air. Almost immediately, the police officer appeared to start shooting, shattering the passenger-side window.
“The driver of the Honda Civic, Paul Witherspoon III, 21, was not injured. The passenger, Stephanie Washington, 22, was shot but not critically injured,” according to The New York Times.
After the Connecticut State Police released the footage in response to the questions and calls about the shooting that took place about a mile from Yale, it has prompted a week of protests.
“Hundreds of Yale students and activists from New Haven congregated at a prominent intersection near the center of campus, shutting down two major thoroughfares. Protesters waved signs that read, ‘Jail Killer Cops!’ and ‘Yale PD: Off of our Street,’” said The New York Times.
Yale students and participants from neighboring cities have joined together to demand justice for Witherspoon and Washington. Demonstrators have gathered almost every day at the site of the shooting and outside the home of Yale’s President Peter Salovey. Salovey asked the protesters in a letter to refrain from drawing conclusion until the investigation was complete.
To see the students of Yale band together as one student body was heartwarming. Racial protest has always had a face whether it be the afro or the fist in the air, but on Yale’s campus, there were multiple faces standing for one another.
Two weeks later, the Florida state Senate approved a bill allowing armed teachers into the classroom in an attempt to “prevent” school shootings. The legislation would permit teachers to carry firearms on school grounds if local school boards agree to allow staffers to carry firearms, according to The Hill. The Senate voted 22-17 to approve the measure, setting up a vote in the state House. But, it raised my concern about the black and brown children who occupy these classrooms; how will this play out for them? Where can they go? It is unpredictable.
Although the bill is out of my hands I urge everyday people to take part in citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is the collection and broadcasting of information by the general public typically on the Internet. Armed with mobile devices, the public has the power to connect with people worldwide and become agents of democracy. The average citizen has the power and the audience to speak out about everyday occurrences and be a voice in crucial conversations across the world that ultimately generate change in society.
Social media has been the platform for the average citizen to state their grievances and objections. Powerful movements have ignited through viral news, bringing to light vital information. Twitter, Instagram and many other social media sites provide international conversation, making it easy and convenient to voice an opinion and reach out to others who feel the same way.
People feel compelled to take their phones out and record things that others may not believe. Every day, people can record anything so they have evidence to protect their truth. I encourage everyone to take a stand against injustice in all forms, use your phones and voice to speak out against what is wrong, even if it is not happening to you.
Our voices are louder when we raise them together.