According to the Denver Post, a Denver Police Department administrative review in 2013 concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to press charges against the officers who beat Alexander Landau. You take one look at the injuries Alex sustained (warning: graphic), and any sane person would ask him/herself, “In what world would three officers of the law need to beat an unarmed man this badly?” Certainly not under the circumstances reported by the officers (Cpl. Randy Murr, Officer Ricky Nixon, and Officer Tiffany Middleton), certainly not under the protections of the law, and certainly not under the scrutiny of common sense.
In what world would three officers need to beat an unarmed man this badly?
Still, the Denver Police Department found insufficient evidence, which shouldn’t be all too surprising because that is what systemic oppression is. It’s a system that allows for hate and discrimination to be carried-out and protected under the pretenses of regular society. What happened to Alex is regular society. It’s regular American society.
The media and national narrative around police brutality has never been higher. This doesn’t mean police brutality against blacks has spiked recently. It doesn’t mean racism, discrimination, and bigotry are peaking in 2015. Brutality against blacks and other minorities has existed for hundreds if not thousands of years.
When Alex Landau was beaten in 2009, I was still in high school just 40 miles from where the injustice happened. We were around the same age. I grew-up in a predominately white, Christian community, and similar to Alex before his attack, I too saw the world through color-blind lenses. I was unaware of my color and what that meant, and I still can’t fathom what it must be like to be black in the United States of America.
I can imagine, however, what my mom would have done if it were I who was injured so badly in the hospital by the hands of cops. She would have cried. She would have screamed. She would have demanded to see the officers who did this to me. She would have yelled at everyone in a police uniform. Her trust in the system would have been broken, but worst of all, she would have been confused. She would have been confused as to how something like this could happen and still be okay. She would be confused as to why the very people sworn to protect citizens would hurt them.
My mother would have reacted the same way Alex’s mother did. One of the greatest tragedies of police brutality and systemic oppression, besides the loss of life, is the erosion of trust between country and citizen. It is the violation of the very social contract that keeps families, communities, and societies together. It is the degradation of the level of security a mother can have before sending her black child out into the world.
And as a country, that is just shameful.