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Two recent police-involved incidents are traumatizing to people of color

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 10:18 PM EDT
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One of the officers who stopped Lt.  Nazario was fired
One of the officers who stopped Lt. Nazario was fired(Virginia)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - One of the police officers involved in a controversial traffic stop in Virginia in 2020 that’s making national news has been fired.

Army Second Lieutenant Caron Nazario had two guns drawn on him by officers and was pepper-sprayed in the face after officers say the Lieutenant refused to comply with their commands.

The use of force against the Army Lieutenant combined with the death of Daunte Wright, 20, who was shot in Minnesota after an officer mistakenly fired her gun instead of her Taser, are raising questions of whether public service efforts are contributing to safety or doing more harm to certain ethnic groups.

Those two incidents are causing concerns, and they are affecting people who identify with those kinds of threats. One Cleveland expert says it is victimizing people of color over and over.

“Are our public service efforts in policing truly contributing to public safety or does it do more harm in those areas?” asked the Next 400 advisory council-member and former Cleveland Police Sgt. Charmin Leon. “This re-traumatization gets reactivated each time there is a new incident.”

Habeebah Rasheed Grimes is President of the Positive Education Program or PEP. She’s trained in how trauma affects people, and she’s also a Next 400 advisory council member.

She says watching reactions across the country to the two incidents victimized the Lieutenant for no good reason.

“Yelled at, guns drawn, he’s feeling so uncertain about his safety that he needed to find a well-lit area to pull over — that experience is now uncommon to the young people I serve, certainly the adolescents and young adults but also the parents and caregivers that we serve,” she said,

“I can’t answer the question that makes an officer do something that looks kind of crazy to me. Accountability, changing the culture. That’s one of the big things is changing the culture of law enforcement,” said Marvin Cross is a former Cleveland Police Commander.

The role of protecting and serving there’s a responsibility that comes with that and it’s heartbreaking to see that time and time again the onus for a regulated, respectful, calm, measured reaction is on the citizen.”

Here’s a looming question that’s not rhetorical, whatever happened to a judge and jury and justice?

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