Ferguson and the Police-Civilian Relationship

In light of the recent events in Ferguson, I thought that I might say a few words on the police-civilian relationship.

First of all, it should be noted that what happened in Ferguson is a tragedy no matter whose story is right. If Michael Brown’s story is correct, then it would be the murder of an unarmed civilian. If the police’s story is correct, then it would be the unnecessary killing of a civilian who fought against an officer. Though all the facts have not emerged, and perhaps may never, neither story supports the claim that it was necessary to kill the civilian. And even if it had been somehow necessary to have killed a civilian, it still would have been a tragedy.

Many say that there has always been racial tension between the mainly white police force and the mainly black residents of Ferguson. Those who believe in the existence of such a hostile relationship will indeed assert that race played a role. And I am sympathetic to that view. To be clear, I do not know if it did, but having seen statistics on how blacks are targeted by police overall, I would not be surprised.

Besides the racial component, there could be another reason why there is tension between the police and civilian population, and that is because the average person’s encounter with the police usually involves getting a ticket. Consequently, although their purpose is to “protect and serve,” the police are often viewed as an external punisher. To make matters worse, there is the militarization of the police. To be clear, I do not know whether or not heavily armored vehicles and high caliber weaponry are necessary to fight domestic crimes, but I am fairly certain that it exacerbates the relationship between the two groups. When civilians see an overwhelming and intimidating show of force, it only strengthens the idea that the police are not there to serve the public.

I once spoke with a Norwegian person who used to work at a prison. He said that one day this large man was getting out of control and so he and three other men had to tackle him, but because that man was so large, they had trouble keeping him subdued. In response to this, I asked, “Why didn’t you just use a taser?” He replied, “He’s a human being; he’s not an animal.” His response took me aback. I had never thought about the dehumanization effects of using a taser. Ever since that conversation I have been wondering whether or not using a taser (and similar weapons) affects the subconscious of the user and the victim. If so, it would only worsen the police-civilian relationship.

My Parents' 40th Anniversary

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of witnessing and participating in my parents’ 40th anniversary concert. It was a beautiful evening that helped me appreciate how special it would be to be with a person for that long. I'm sure the other 250 people that attended also felt the same way. My mom did not spare any effort in organizing the event. She rented a church, she spent thousands of dollars on flowers and food, and she had a friend who made a gigantic sign that said "40." Furthermore, being that my mom loves the performing arts, she organized 20 performances for the night. There was singing, there was dancing, and there was even a ventriloquist!

At my mom’s request, my sister and I gave the introduction. My sister did it in English first and then I translated it into Chinese. I must say that this part of the concert went better than I had expected it to. Honestly, I was quite reluctant to speak Chinese in front of all those people because I was afraid I would make mistakes, but it actually went really well. Every single time after I spoke, the audience clapped and cheered; they were so impressed that my pronunciation was good. Both my sister and I were taken aback when they reacted like that. It was really funny. As the introduction progressed, I became less nervous, and I even cracked a couple of jokes, which landed perfectly.

After we were done giving the introduction, it would be another two hours before I had go back on stage for the finale. My mom wanted the entire immediate family to sing a song together as the last performance. I suggested we sing Seasons of Love from the musical Rent, and she agreed. I would have to say that it turned out ok. I wish we sounded a bit better, but it was the experience that was important. I have never sung with my family before so it was a special occasion. We actually rehearsed 5 times before the anniversary.

The fact that my parents have been happily together for over 40 years is amazing. In a time where half of marriages end in divorce, their life with each other is much-desired proof that it is still possible, and that it is still sensible to be a romantic. Moreover, they still seem happy. In fact, they’re always out partying. They’re either singing, dancing, or performing together. They probably party more than all three of their children combined.

The last thing I want mention is that one time I went to some type of performance with my parents and I remember the way my mom was looking at my dad when he was on stage singing a solo. I could tell by the look on her face that she was proud of him and happy to be with him. All I could think of when I saw that was “Wow, it’s so wonderful to have someone love you.”