INDIANAPOLIS — The deaths of black people at the hands of police officers, whether they be white or black, is a delicate issue in America today.
Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill certainly understands the perspective of both sides of the coin, both as a black man and a law enforcement official. Hill says peaceful protesters have valid reasons to be upset.
“There is a problem in this country with the level of violence that seems to be happening towards African-American males. We need to address it,” Hill said. “But, on the same token, we need to do so in a proper manner.”
He calls the riots, looting, and destruction of property in cities like Indianapolis “troubling”, but that the riots themselves are a “separate issue.”
“It’s imperative the angst of the black community,” Hill added. “Slavery is a legacy that lives on today in the minds and hearts of black citizens. When a black person walks into a restaurant or walks into a store and someone is looking at them more so than a white individual.”
Hill also alluded to the viral video of a woman in Central Park in New York City of an argument between a black man and a white woman walking her dog who was not on a leash.
“The woman was some several feet away from the black gentleman and threatened him by using the trigger words: ‘an African-American man is threatening me’,” he said. “So as to say that an African-American man threatening her was more dangerous than a white man threatening her.”
Hill said we as a greater society need to start better recognizing that these are the types of things African-Americans are experiencing in today’s society.
“Here is the reality, each of us harbors stereotypes, implicit biases, prejudgments on other people,” said Hill. “It may be subtle. But we all have that baggage in our systems. It’s imperative that the first thing we do is a self-examination and recognize and acknowledge that we have that shortcoming. We can acknowledge that shortcoming … we can be more forgiving of the person who we accuse of having that shortcoming.”
However, Hill is not laying all the blame on people who do not understand the perspective of African-Americans.
“On the other hand we also have to preserve the role of law enforcement and the rule of law in this country,” Hill said. “It is absolutely vital to the protection of everybody in the community but also the black community. So there is a big, heavy lift of understanding that needs to take place from all sides.”
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