In his June 8 letter to the editor, Gary Phillips blames people killed by police, stating: “No one wants to hold the perpetrator accountable for his own actions or failures to obey lawful instructions of the police.”

Phillips couldn’t be more wrong. It is erroneous to assume all victims of police shootings are perpetrators. Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy, was shot two seconds after being approached by police. Did Phillips watch him die? I did. Philando Castile was shot while following orders to retrieve his ID. Did Phillips watch him die? I did.

There is one point on which we agree: “Why is it hard to recruit good men and women to become police officers today?”

I ask the same question when faced with a study by public health analyst Alexandra Lutnick that found “14 percent (of sex workers) described having been threatened with arrest unless they agreed to have sex with a police officer,” while 8 percent said they had been arrested after having sex with an officer anyway.

Does Phillips believe the 14 out of 100 sex workers should be killed for refusing to follow a command to be raped?

The Plain View Project looked at Facebook accounts of about 2,800 current officers and 700 retired officers across the country. About one-fifth of current officers had racist or violent posts. Over two-fifths of retired officers had racist or violent posts. Now, this fact must contribute to the reality that in 2017, “black people were 25 percent of those killed by police despite being only 13 percent of the population,” according to Mapping Police Violence researchers.


Given these facts, instead of baseless belief, it is obvious that blame does not rest solely on the person who is dead, nor their grieving families.

Police are not our judges, juries or executioners. Even if commands are disobeyed, disobedience does not warrant a death sentence in America.

Nicole Gorsun


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