You are all probably aware by now of the shooting of former boxing championing Vernon Forrest. Shortly after the incident, word was leaked that the police arrested two individuals who they believed were involved in the murder. The extent of either person’s involvement is unknown. What is clear from reports accompanying the arrest, however, is that neither person was directly involved in the shooting. Instead of conducting a thorough investigation to determine the exact role each individual played in the murder, however, the police have resorted to its usual tactic of distortion and deception, by outing the names of both individuals with as much fanfare as possible. It is true that they would have eventually been brought before a judge at which time their identities and stories would have become part of the public record. But to achieve this result through the backdoor as the police have done makes them no better than the ones they seek to prosecute. Regardless of the extent of their involvement in the Forrest shooting, these two individuals will now have to contend with the stigma of having been associated with the incident, a stain that will be nearly impossible to remove, particularly in the age of Google and online criminal histories. And the message being conveyed is clear: some members of our community are of lesser value than others, especially those who are suspected of being involved in criminal activity. Of course, in parading the arrestees before the media, the police are seeking to reassure the public as to their efforts in prosecuting the case, which, according to conventional wisdom, acts as a security blanket for residents. Yet all that is debatable: who knows if they police are just willy nilly picking up individuals, preferably ones with long rap sheets, to satisfy the mob mentality of catching someone, anyone, upon whom the crime can be pinned. (To its credit, the family of Forrest has not taken such a stance and have instead asked for that the shooter surrender.) And it makes the community no more safer when cops are simply plucking people off the streets on dubious grounds.
What will happen is that the unjust actions by the police will breed more resentment among those who are already at the brink, which, in turn, will result in more criminal activity. But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look around you. How much safer do you feel?