Donna Willis: Walk a day in our shoes

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Considering the history between predominately white police departments and minority communities to this date, minorities of color have, I believe, been denied our constitutional rights.

Since those rights are guaranteed under the 14th Amendment, it appears courts are just as guilty as law enforcement.

According to the 14th Amendment, “nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The latter concerns me the most. An allegation is not a judgement of guilt but, based on records that are easily accessible to police prior to confronting an “alleged law breaker,” past transgressions can influence and alter their perception.

This country’s long history of bigotry and racism is reason enough for people of color to feel threatened in the presence of police, especially considering how little has been done to protect their lives.

A hand on a gun, or even one hanging on a police officer’s belt, is perceived as a threat by black people, and thus, running is the appropriate action in a majority of such cases — which I believe is why laws were enacted to allow police to take the lazy way out of a foot race.

However, I believe the 14th Amendment shields and protects citizens from prosecution when police draw and aim their weapons at a citizen without cause.

To me, any act of aggression, especially one that results in an unarmed citizen looking down the barrel of a police officer’s gun, equals brandishing a lethal weapon with intent to do bodily harm.

In such instances, it is not unreasonable to expect courts to uphold the law, and I believe they have a duty to hold police to the same laws citizenship demands of the public.

Donald Trump’s “99.9% great cop” statement might hold water with his base, but none of those people have likely ever had a police officer’s gun shoved in their face with little to no provocation.

Overseers belong on pre-1864 plantations, not on our public streets and highways, yet that is exactly who many believe they are today.

No cop is protecting the public by shoving a pistol in an unarmed yet accused citizen’s face.

No cop is protecting the public when they speed on highways in non-emergency situations. In fact, to do so is to endanger other motorists.

I’m in total opposition to any court’s ruling that gives absolute authority to police officers, or any other citizen, for that matter.

First and foremost, police are citizens of these United States.

I strongly believe that when citizenship is a requirement of employment, legislatures and courts alike have an obligation to address the actions of a citizen prior to any privilege their job might afford.

Running down a citizen by unloading a weapon into their back is a cowardly act.

Policing is not a profession where the least acceptable degree can be be found acceptable.

No one should be hired as a police officer who has not completed requirements and graduated from a police academy. To do so is to intentionally endanger the public.

It hurts me to have to include good cops in the same wicked pool as the bad, but when you fail to speak out against wrongdoing or are complicit in wrongful acts, you’re just as guilty.

When the top of the law enforcement ladder stands in support of their peons, no matter what the circumstances maybe, they’re endangering the public.

When police departments and officers who are granted by law the authority to investigate allegations of wrongdoing of other police departments and fail to do so, I believe they are lawbreakers of the worst kind.

There is no doubt that one standard for all is needed in law enforcement.

Systemic racism is alive and well in West Virginia, on the same level as it is across this nation.

This country’s enactment was written to operate under systemically racist legislation.

For those willing to deny that such sanctioned ideologies exist, all I can say is, walk one day in our shoes; hear what we hear; stand before a police-issued weapon knowing you’ve done nothing wrong; feel their hate and then deny it exists.

Until that day, allow us our anger.

Stand as silent as you have all your lives as American citizens of every race and gender march peacefully, but vocally to support what they believe is true.

Give change a chance. Let the love of God for once stand before your wants and needs.

Let humanity rise up from its long buried prison.

And then rejoice with us as finally we all walk, without fear, as Americans.

With peace comes decreased lawlessness, something that is long overdue in America.

Donna Willis lives in Institute.

Funerals for Friday, July 3, 2020

Austin, Daniel - 12:30 p.m., Austin-Hope-McLeod Cemetery, Gallipolis Ferry.

Browning, James - 1:30 p.m., Pineview Cemetery, Orgas.

Cogar, Lela - 11 a.m., Dodd & Reed Funeral Home, Webster Springs.

Cook, Thermal - 1 p.m., Haven of Rest Memory Gardens, Red House.

Estep, Jerry - 2 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Grose, Violet - 2 p.m., Phillips Cemetery, Ovapa.

Hager, Vaughn - 2 p.m., Casto Funeral Home, Ravenswood.

Ratliff, Karen - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Rose, Mary - 3 p.m., Mollohan Cemetery, Birch River.

Smith, Dorothy - 11 a.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens.