Editors Note: the following artist’s statement was disallowed by Long Beach Museum of Art :
In 2015 there have been 534 people killed by police in America and the year is not over. This is not a fully compiled list. These numbers are not unusual as every year hundreds of people’s lives are senselessly cut short due to the violent tactics implemented by these officers. Hundreds of millions of dollars are paid out to the victims’ families in civil suits at the expense of the taxpayers.
To be fair, police have a difficult job. Most of the time their good deeds go unnoticed. This is a thankless job. In some cases the killing of another person is justified if it means another life is saved.
Of course, it is easy to blame the bad apples within the police force but unfortunately the statistics speak for themselves. These numbers are so consistently overwhelming that the conclusion leads this discussion away from the individual officers to the bigger problems within the system and structure in which they are trained.
If the tools given to these officers were more focused on de-escalation as opposed to “shoot first and ask questions later,” then thousands of lives could be saved as well as millions of taxpayer dollars.
New body camera legislation is being put forth, which could help lead to more transparency, saving lives in the end as well as millions in taxpayer dollars. Billions of dollars worth of military equipment, as well as the failed “War On Drugs” campaign, has led to the police acting as an occupying force within our communities.
The relationship between the police and the communities they serve are strained to a breaking point. Long Beach is no exception to this strain on the community. In the last couple of months, two young people have been tragically killed in violent circumstances due to these police tactics. Both of these kids were unarmed and posed no threat to the officers. If only restraint and tactics of de-escalation were implemented then maybe these young lives could have been saved.
The mantra “To Protect and Serve” gives us the feeling that we could trust these officers in these difficult circumstances. But until the system is overhauled, this vicious cycle will continue and the body count will only grow.