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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.rainfallpress.com/

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dangerous Minds

There is something wrong with us.  Something wrong that we cannot look away from a person who lies dying in the street. 
“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” – Andy Warhol
(warning: *GRAPHIC*)

I’m no exception.  I watched the video.  I knew what it contained and watched it anyway,  and my first thought was – at least no bystanders were killed, and that’s one less criminal on the street.  

Good grief, I could swear that was Nancy Grace reflected back at me in my monitor just now – judge and jury all in one. 

The 19-year-old suspect of a shooting in San Francisco on July 16th, 2011, Kenneth Harding, was fleeing the scene when detained over not paying for his Muni train fare.  Harding turned and reportedly opened fire on the police, who returned shots and fatally wounded him.  He was a ‘person of interest’ in the killing of a 19-year-old pregnant woman and the wounding of three others in Seattle – all innocent victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a shooting.  He was also recently paroled for the sexual assault of a child.

This is who thousands of people are defending, raging against the police for shooting.  This is the ‘victim.’ 

There are two kinds of anger that are raging across our nation these days, and it seems reminiscent to me of an earlier time:  those on the side of the police, despite their fallacies, and those feeling suppressed by authority, despite their own wrongdoings.  A civil war is afoot, and the blood that should bond us is rapidly thinning as it is shed all over the streets. 

As per usual in our current climate, the blood of this incident was literally captured on video by many witnesses.  The subsequent hate that has spread across the internet like a raging fire in a windstorm is quite disturbing to me.  In a Google search, these are ‘headlines’ that came up:

‘SFPD Shoots Innocent Victim Five Times For Not Paying Bus Fare!’
‘San Francisco Police Shoot And Kill Teenager Over $2 Bus Fare’
San Fran Police Shoot Un-Armed Man Five Times – It Starts A Riot!’
And this is the problem with ‘journalism’ today.  Everyone thinks that their perception of the truth is just that – the almighty Truth.  It’s not.  Nobody knows the difference between opinion and fact anymore despite our cameras that have become extensions of our hands, and we are so bent on creating our own truths that we’ve become quite the distorted society. 
As someone who has a criminal past (albeit never a violent one), has been convicted of a her crimes, who has been poorer than poor, homeless, and angry at the world, there comes a time that everyone faces – time to make a choice.  Spin the wheels of being the victim, or learn, and better ourselves.  I’ve walked in the shoes of both sides, and made my choices. 

Sitting back and watching the many who perpetuate the love for the criminally minded pisses me off.  How about the respect for those who slap on a badge, and in the middle of a routine transit-fare-violation citing are suddenly chasing down an armed suspect and being shot at? 

If the bullets were speeding at you, would you draw your weapon, or stand still while your fellow officers went down?  If it were your loved ones waiting for you to come home that day, their faces in the back of your eyes, what would you do?

Tell yourself all the lies you want to if it will help you sleep better, but my truth is that my life is my priority.  Furthermore, too many officers being shot at actually do take the public’s safety into consideration.  Everyone thanks the soldiers overseas for doing their job to protect us and others, and rightfully so, but nobody wants to thank an officer fighting for our homeland.  Fighting the war that wages on our own streets.

At the end of the day, the loss of a life is a sad affair.  That the priority of people on the scene was to scream at authority and grasp at their 15 minutes of fame with their videos deeply bothers me.  That people refuse to see what is bleeding before them bothers me. 

Everyone else is to blame – never ourselves.  Never those who’ve done wrong.  When street justice takes someone’s life, it’s okay.  Add a badge to the mix and it’s a sudden outcry of injustice. 

A civil war has begun, alright.  Here in our diverse Bay Area, it’s not the blue versus the gray, it’s black and blue all over.  Bruises that discolor the sky over the glorious Golden Gate. 

Tell your truth now – did you watch the video?  And what were your real thoughts as you did?

© Kymberlie Ingalls, July 18, 2011

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