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My Turn, Carol Pomeroy: Accountability, transparency, equity needed in policing

By Carol Pomeroy

A number of years ago I received a speeding ticket. I deserved it. 

I was upset when I saw the flashing lights behind me because I knew I was going to get a ticket. I was not afraid to stop because I knew I would be treated respectfully. I was not afraid that I would be pulled out of the car by my hair. I was not afraid that I would be forced to the ground and handcuffed. In fact, those ideas never occurred to me at all. It certainly never occurred to me that I might be shot or killed. I am a white woman.

Obviously that was not the case for Stephanie Bottom, who was also speeding. She was pulled out of her car by her hair. She was roughly forced to the ground and suffered rotator cuff injuries before her hands were handcuffed behind her back. Stephanie is an African-American woman.

Andrew Brown, Jr. of Elizabeth City was killed by a gunshot to the back of his head while trying to drive away from deputies as they arrived at his home to carry out warrants in drug related charges. He was an African-American man. He did not deserve to be murdered.

A female police officer shot and killed a 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright, when officers initiated a stop for an expired registration tag. The officer meant to Taser Mr. Wright because he would not get out of his car. She pulled out her gun instead of her Taser.  

Two Virginia police officers pulled over US Army 2nd Lt. Caron Nazaro, who was in uniform, for not having a rear license plate on his newly purchased car. He did in fact have a cardboard temporary plate taped inside the rear window. He was afraid to get out of his car, and an officer held him at gunpoint and doused him with pepper spray. When he did get out of the car, the officers assaulted him with their fists, knees and hands forcing him down onto his face and handcuffed him. Mr. Nazaro is a Black and Latino man. These are just a few instances where Black and brown people are abused, injured and killed for offenses that certainly don’t warrant a death sentence.

What is also difficult for me to understand is that a number of individuals wrote letters and were outraged when Zuul, a police dog, was abused by his police officer handler. Fortunately, the dog was not injured, but people wanted the officer disciplined and fired for his actions. I don’t recall seeing any individual letters to this paper condemning the actions of police officers who abuse and kill unarmed Black and brown people. Why would the mistreatment of an animal bring more public outrage than the mistreatment and deaths of human beings? 

Black and brown lives matter. Black and brown people are not disposable. There must be accountability, transparency, equity and oversight. Anything less is not acceptable.

Carol Pomeroy lives in Salisbury.

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