“If you feel so angry, So ripped off so stepped on, You’re not the only one, Refusing to back down.”
-Three Days Grace, “Riot”
Third-world behavior has once again stricken our first-world mentality. The Albuquerque Police Department’s actions that led to the death of James Boyd are upsetting to say the least, but the reaction of the public is providing an eerie glance into the future and the direction American society could be going. Everyone is in the wrong; there are no winners in this situation.
On March 16th, 2014, local “camper” (homeless guy to regular folk), James Boyd, was approached by Albuquerque police. The 38-year-old vagabond that called almost every area of Albuquerque home (but I thought he was homeless?) was fatally gunned down by multiple officers in the foothills of the Duke City (Berman, 2014). Luckily for the media, APD officers are required to wear lapel cameras in order to record their on-duty situations for safety reasons, legal reasons, and eventually reasons for their unemployment.
Boyd has an extensive criminal history with APD, including assault with box cutters, knives, and his fists, not to mention he was on a special assignment for former president, Gerald Ford (an honor for anyone, really). After multiple complaints that the drifter was frightening people at a library back in 2010, APD confronted Boyd as he referred to himself as God and broke the nose of a female officer (Laflin, 2014). Claiming to be the Almighty and punching a girl in the face seems like a reasonable reaction.
During the last confrontation between officers and this soul the public has conveniently claimed to be their best friend (you’re my BFF, bro. What’s your name again?), Boyd exposed knives and threatened to kill the officers that approached him; the officers that had bean bags, mace, tasers, guns, and a dog that probably could have subdued Boyd by itself. With that in mind, instead of restraining the outnumbered crazy homeless man with the many options available, they decided to fire multiple rounds, taking the life of Boyd; at least the dog was safe. No animals were harmed in the making of this controversy. One guy with two knives being gunned down by five officers that have no math skills seems like a reasonable reaction also.
The nation has been suffering from crime sparked by mental illness too much recently, but does that merit an ill-advised fatality? Of course not, and assumption needs to be controlled. On the other hand, officers have the right to protect themselves and the public if the situation is examined to be hazardous or threatening to their life. Still…
The APD has been responsible for 23 gun-related fatalities since 2010. To put that into perspective: New York City, a city that is 15 times larger than Albuquerque, has had 25 gun-related fatalities involving their police department in the last two years (Berman, 2014). Let’s do some math with rough numbers because who really has the time to figure this out anyway (not the APD, that’s for sure).
Albuquerque: 1 in 26,086 people will be shot and killed by a police officer every four years.
New York City: 1 in 170,000 people will be shot and killed by a police officer every four years.
What does this all mean? Absolutely nothing, and the calculations probably aren’t correct. However, protestors decided to let their voices be heard once again; not just in the annoying trendy way this time, but in a more rebellious way. There were threats of cyber attacks to the APD mainframe, and street protests turned physical and rocks were being hurled at APD officers. Resistance was calm for most of the day, but eventually tear gas was needed and arrests were made (surprisingly no one got shot) (Berman, 2014). Physically rebelling against your authorities and destroying the city you live in because officers acted on assumption towards a person you don’t even know seems like a reasonable reaction as well.
There’s no reason present on either side. This is stupidity at its highest level and we’re all in the wrong. You don’t kill a person that you can easily apprehend with other methods you’re well aware of through rigorous training, and you don’t rebel against the people that are protecting you day in and day out. This is simply out of control; this is why there are civil wars in the Middle East and Africa; this is why third-world nations across the world are falling apart. America is in a pretty damn good situation, and once again we are trying to destroy that; we should consider ourselves lucky for the conditions we live in compared to a majority of the world. You want to be protected, but you want to be free to act as you please? You want decisions to be made for you, but then you want power? You want this and that and everything in between?
There was a vigil for James Boyd. People gathered to pray for a man that they didn’t know; a man that cut another man outside of a homeless shelter; a man that broke the nose of an officer; a man that claimed he was God. When people were praying, were they praying for him or to him?
There are people supporting APD that the shooting was necessary, that it was the only reasonable outcome to the situation. Nothing justifies the shooting; I don’t care how much they “investigate” or examine the clip of Boyd’s death. He should be in jail or an asylum, not dead.
APD did something wrong, and now the citizens of Albuquerque are doing something wrong. Come on, people; let’s start thinking before acting.
Berman, M. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/03/31/what-is-going-on-in-albuquerque-your-guide-to-the-police-shooting-protest/ on April 4, 2014
Laflin, N. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.koat.com/news/new-mexico/albuquerque/man-killed-in-foothills-officerinvolved-shooting-had-long-criminal-history/25098132 on April 4, 2014