The last couple of months have brought to light a series of events that question the essence of what makes us such a great nation; that universal truth, endowed by our Creator, that all men are created equal.
The hard reality in all of this is the fact that those very words are being threatened every moment and instant that we allow events like the ones that recently occurred in Ferguson and Stanton Island to continue.
The deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are just a set of recent examples that have surfaced in large part due to our advances in technology and our ability to easily access a cellphone with video and photography capabilities within a second’s reach.
And the scariest thing in all of this is the fact that these sort of incidents are happening a lot more than we all would like to admit.
The abuse of power used in Eric Garner’s death couldn’t be clearer: The man screamed eleven times, “I Can’t Breathe.” Further, Mr. Garner’s actions did not constitute an imminent threat to the group of cops that were surrounding him at the time.
During the entire interaction, Mr. Garner did not show any signs of resistance or posed an immediate threat on any of the officers present.
So if the evidence was so clear, why did the grand jury fail to indict the law enforcement officer responsible for Eric Garner’s death?
Quite simply, the truth is that parts of our legal system are broken.
Lawyers often say that a “prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich”, pointing to the fact that it is usually very easy to convince a grand jury to formally accuse a person with committing a crime.
And although this all depends on the type of crime that a person is being accused of, often prosecutors will throw as many crimes as they can to the jury, hoping that one of them will stick.
In our current legal system, the prosecutor of the case carries a lot of influence and power in terms of what evidence is admitted into the case and what the grand jury gets to hear and see before making their decision.
Often, prosecutors have prior relationships within law enforcement agencies, as they usually work together within the same system of government. As a result, this makes it difficult for fairness and justice to be served when dealing with these types of issues.
As a society, we often give law enforcement officers a great amount of credibility and trustworthiness just because of the type of job that they are in. This is a dangerous generalization and goes to show why some law enforcement officers are able to get away with abuse of power.
However, there is no question that a majority of law enforcement officers do an admirable job in protecting us. But for the few that abuse our system, they must be held responsible for their actions.
But in order to do that, we must change part of our legal system so that its truly equal, fair, and just.
For starters,prosecutors and grand juries should come from different communities. Our legal system must take the extra step to ensure that no biases exist that could potentially unjustly affect the outcome of a case.
As Americans, if we want to truly adhere to what our founders envisioned our country to be and continue working towards a more perfect union, we must come together as one nation to make sure this issue is resolved.
Let us take this opportunity to embrace what unites us, instead of focusing on what makes us different. Only then, will we be able to move our country forward.
This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post.