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The Talk of the Country

Gloria M. Sandoval  |  Issue: September | October 2016
Police brutality protest in Fresno, CA

Police brutality protest in Fresno, CA. Left: Mother of Dylan Noble who was killed by Fresno police. Right: Rev. Floyd D. Harris, a leader in the struggle for justice. | The ruling class does not use its power to end the economic and social inequality. Instead the rulers use the police to oppress the dispossessed with violent repression. If the rulers can not ensure the basic needs of their people, then they are not fit to govern. PHOTO: Floyd D. Harris, III


Black Lives Matter!  White Lives Matter!  All Lives Matter!  Blue Lives Matter!  The most recent killings of young black men and now five police officers has exploded in dialogue and frustration across social media and protests throughout the country.  The debates/discussion about whether there has been more numbers of whites than blacks that have been killed; about teaching youth to be respectful and cooperative with law enforcement like where to have your hands or how to answer with a “sir” when addressing a police officer.    The public wants accountability and prosecution of law enforcement officers that are too quick to kill.  No Justice, No Peace!  Diversity training and community policing along with employing more officers that reflect the community in which they live are more suggestions.

President Obama held a Town Hall meeting that aired on ABC television network on the anniversary of the death of Sandra Bland while in custody.   These town halls have included parents of the deceased young men and with the moms of two officers killed in the Dallas sniper shootings–admitting that tensions have built up for too long, too many idle hands, too many guns, living in poverty with no jobs.  We need to build healthy communities.  Where kids can go to school and be safe, to reinforce positive values being taught at home.  There was also a mention that 25 to 30% of those killed were living with mental health problems. Obama described the situation as “disparities in the aggregate; discrepancies exist that are not being treated fairly.”

The case of Dylan Noble, an unarmed white 19 year old fatally shot four times within two minutes by Fresno Police officers on June 25 had a very different response by the Fresno Chief of Police.  Latino activists that have made demands of the Chief for 20 to 30 years were puzzled by Chief Jerry Dyer’s quick and cooperative response in the case of Dylan.  The use of a sign with “White Lives Matter,” along with a Confederate flag and support by skinheads demonstrating their outrage delayed the realization that this was yet another young life snuffed out by police.  There are now visible signs of impulses toward unity in the Fresno, California community of 520,000 although tendencies will continue to exist that want to prevent this unity.

Communicating with and trusting the police has been mentioned, along with a comment that African Americans are seen with a “greater presumption of dangerousness.” (Obama) As we have seen time and time again, blue lives will become heroes while young men like Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, along with too many others, will remain numbers. The mourning and grieving will permit a sort of time out to dialogue and consideration of solutions.  Meantime, city councils, state budgets and other government entities continue to hire more police/sheriffs/law enforcement officers while not giving any priority to youth or community services that youth and communities are demanding.

One of the main divisions in our communities is that some people have what they need and are living the American Dream. An estimated 50 million other people have no jobs, go to bed hungry and have no homes or roofs over their heads.  We must realize that we are living in a changed economic environment –where jobs are not coming back due to use of robots and production without laborers.  The people who care about the 1,000 deaths at the hands of police per year must all move in the direction to stop all killings by police by any means necessary.   The people of Fresno are proposing a simple “Don’t shoot policy.”   If not now, when?

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