Last Saturday in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Police Officers Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate were making a routine traffic stop when they were gunned down in a hail of bullets. There are many in this nation who heard about such a situation and believe that the two got what they deserved. After all, brutal police have been gunning innocent citizens down all over the country in recent months. I wrestled with similar thoughts until I heard an interview with Ronald Tate, Liquori’s dad. “Take off the blue uniform! This was my son. This was my baby,” Tate implored the audience. I was moved back to Jesus by his passionate words.
After some thought, I realized once again that our police officers are simply a reflection of us. They are violent because we are violent. They carry a whole host of prejudices and hates because we carry a whole host of prejudices and hates. They are afraid because we are afraid. If we want to know the source of police brutality, we have to look in the mirror.
Officers Deen and Tate carried guns because we gave them to them.
Growing up, I remember hearing over and over, “Guns always escalate any situation.” The folks who shot Deen and Tate knew that they had guns and felt the need to shoot them before they got shot. If they hadn’t had guns, I don’t know that the impetus to shoot would have been as strong. By expecting our police to carry guns, we are creating the escalation over and over again. The police are always prepared for a gunfight. We shouldn’t be surprised when they actually get one.
If we want to eliminate police shootings and the shootings of police, we are going to have to demand that all parties get rid of their guns and stand down.