By: City Commissioner Joshua Simmons
What is frustrating when my eyes see something, I process the visuals, my mind determines that what I am seeing is wrong, but then, I am told by external forces that will glean any sort of ambiguity and state that as a reason for why what I am seeing is not wrong.
Was that confusing? Of course it is!
This has happened to us everyday, since the 2016 elections, when “alternative facts” were introduced to the American lexicon. A quick Google definition of frustration yields, “The feeling of being upset or annoyed, especially because of inability to change or achieve something.”
Last week, Thursday I was sent a private message on Facebook and in that message was a video of Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies surrounded by a crowd of predominately black teenagers, who arrived at a Tamarac McDonald’s after school to witness a fight. The camera shifts and you witness a BSO deputy use pepper spray against a teenager (while also spraying other students in close proximity), whose only crime at that point was talking back to the deputy.
After being sprayed, the teenager was moving away from the situation, when that deputy decided to grab the teenager and fling him to the ground. That’s when another deputy jumps in to assist the first deputy, by smashing the teenagers face, multiple times into the concrete. That deputy even punched the teenager on top of his head multiple times as well.
They finally handcuff the teenager (mind you, the teenager was not resisting arrest and was not struggling with the deputies) and there were visible injuries to the teen.
The video ends.
I needed to get the concrete definition of frustration so that I could work out my feelings of watching that video as well as my feelings after speaking with the newly appointed Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony. I am upset by the fact that, yet again, another black body was beat and abused by a member of a law enforcement agency. I am annoyed that there are actual human beings out here who blame the victim and not state that what they see is wrong. I am upset because we act like we are no longer living in the 60’s but the vestiges of blatant police brutality, water hoses, and dogs are still ever present in 2019. I am annoyed because this young man who was battered, broken, beaten, and not just physically, but emotionally as well, was still taken to jail and charged with resisting arrest and assault on an officer. Especially since the video shows otherwise. I am upset and annoyed because this keeps happening and I, like so many others want this desperately to stop. I am upset and annoyed because this could have been me.
For those that will say that I am anti-cop, stop it. For those that will say the young man got what he deserved, stop it. If you think the actions that were perpetrated against this young man was fair and necessary, stop it. Think about the message that was sent to every student out there. Think about the generations of black and brown children who view officers, not as heroes, but as something more sinister in nature.
Our law enforcement agencies are supposed to protect us. They are supposed to keep the order and peace. They are supposed to defend us, shield us from evil, and be our refuge. When we continue to see these types of events and then explain them away as this is okay or treat these situations as normal, ask yourself, what message are we sending to the world about what America stands for.
Here is what we need as a community:
We need more sheriffs and chiefs of police to come out and say that something is wrong.
We need to see our sheriffs and chiefs stand with the community and vow to work to increase positive interactions between communities of color and law enforcement.
We need law enforcement agencies to differentiate between the calls they are responding to. Those deputies should not have been hyper aggressive when responding to a group of teenagers who were just released from school.
We need our law enforcement officer’s to be trained more to de-escalate than to respond with force.
We need to increase programs to recruit people to become officers in the community’s where they grew up. I am happy to hear that State Attorney Mike Satz dropped all charges against this young man. The young man did not assault an officer – nor did he resist arrest. That is a false and reckless charge for a 15-year-old kid.
Lastly, the Broward Sheriff’s Office should provide this young man with mental health counseling to make sure he does not suffer PTSD from this unfortunate incident.
I am frustrated because people will look at this, and camp out in their pro/anti law enforcement groups and will say that I do not support law enforcement. That could not be further from the truth. I believe that most law enforcement officers are well-meaning, well-intentioned, and want to protect and serve communities.
Also understand that just like any other job in this world, all humans are not perfect and some people who take an oath will undoubtedly violate that oath. Let’s work to make sure that the ones who do not uphold their oath to protect and serve, do not make the heroes look the same as them.
We have to work together so that these types of events end, and that black and brown children can see that law enforcement officers can be the good people they are supposed to be.
I know that we can do this, but we have to be truthful and honest about our shortcomings so that we can move forward with a beneficial and respectful dynamic between communities of color and law enforcement. Enough is enough.
Joshua Simmons is a Coral Springs City Commissioner. Coral Springs Talk welcomes all points of view. To submit yours go to Submit News.