Practical Ways To Respond To The Eric Garner Case

In the wake of the latest failure to indict a police officer involved in the death of a black male, there has been a lot of think pieces, protests, memes, and backlash. In light of these, a few things come to mind that I think would further propel this momentum into making lasting changes. This list isn’t exhaustive, nor do I necessarily think all of them are equally useful or necessary, but you may want to consider them.

1) Educate Yourself

Following the herd because it is there is the worst idea no matter what the herd is saying. We are human beings, and no matter how social we are naturally we still have the capacity to think for ourselves, and every time we don’t we fail ourselves and those around us. No matter how clear cut these issues may seem, there is always a lot of information that simply won’t be widely reported, either because the media prefers a specific spin on the events or they simply don’t see a particular piece of data as relevant. Knowing as much as possible, both about the pivotal events themselves as well as the various factors that led to them happening is vital if you have any intention of making an intelligent judgement of the events.

2) Protest

A large mass of people yelling about things always gets attention. Make sure you did #1 first, however, or you may find yourself protesting something that really shouldn’t be protested, or you may find yourself advocating for changes that wouldn’t actually address the things you are protesting.

3) Write Your Elected Officials

This is vital. It is also vital that you get as many people to do this as possible. If you don’t like how things are done, you need to let them know in no uncertain terms that you want to see changes. And do not stop there. Threaten their elections. Telling a city counselor or DA you are upset is all well and good, but ten thousand people telling them that they have no intention of voting for someone who is comfortable with the status quo will get their attention. Do you think cops are accountable to no one and accusations against them need to be investigated by an unaffiliated party? Tell them that. Think we have way too many stupid laws and that the police shouldn’t be violent enforcers of cigarette taxes? Let them know. I personally believe that the overwhelming majority of problems we face as a nation can be traced to our lackadaisical approach to our elected officials. We let them do whatever they want, and the simple fact is people with power will tend to do whatever they can get away with. If every American citizen held the government accountable to the people instead of special interest groups or absolutely no one, we’d be living in a much better country.

4) Make Some New Friends

Your perspective changes when things affect people you know. I’ve read articles claiming things like 3/4 of white people don’t have any non-white friends, and while I question some of these statistics, it never hurts to have a more diverse set of friends, with varying viewpoints (even viewpoints you may find disagreeable or abhorrent). But maybe you have a lot of minority friends already. In that case, consider making friends with a police officer or someone who works in a DA’s office.

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