Law enforcement is meant to protect the public it serves. But what about when law enforcement does not serve and does not protect? When instead it targets groups of people and uses excessive and unreasonable force in interactions with them? When the public is afraid to call on the police to help? When mothers and fathers feel a need to teach their children how to behave in police interactions to try to avoid excessive and unreasonable force and to save their childrens’ lives?
The year 2020 was a revelation to many white Americans. Police brutality and racial injustice were evidenced in every state and were in the news every day after George Floyd’s killing. More than ever before, Americans of all races, ages, genders, and economic situations rose up in towns and cities in every state to protest law enforcement’s use of racial profiling and excessive force on American citizens. Ironically, many of these protests were met by police in riot gear, who used excessive force against peaceful people as they protested against racial injustice and excessive force.
Equality Before the Law
The Nebraska state motto is “equality before the law.” Many believe that this motto indicates an aspiration for racial equality that was not portrayed by police officers during the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020. In Omaha, law enforcement shot pepper balls at people during peaceful protests and arrested large numbers of protesters all summer long.
First Amendment ignored by police
The First Amendment to the Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The originators clearly intended for Americans to have freedom of speech and the freedom to peacefully protest. Many observers believe that people in Nebraska were not equal and free in 2020, and they were not free to exercise their first amendment right to free speech. When Americans are not free to protest peacefully against injustice, one might argue that they are not free.
What can you do?
If you have been on the receiving end of violent treatment, unreasonable force, or racial injustice perpetrated by police officers in Nebraska, understand that you have been wronged. If you were protesting against injustice and police violence in 2020, and you were injured by police brutality, you were wronged. The members of law enforcement who used violence against peaceful citizens broke the law. You have been the victim of unreasonable force, and you can demand justice.
Seeing justice served against police officers who use excessive force can be challenging. It may seem like an impossible task. In many cases, victims do not get the justice they deserve, but it is worth the effort. The more we bring police brutality to light, the greater chance we have of putting a stop to it.