Presumed Guilt: The New America2 min read

The only way that the current accepted police practices across the country make sense is if we presume that people accused of a crime are guilty.

For people who stand against police brutality the way people respond to videos showing violence from the police while yelling “stop resisting” can be disheartening. If we view those responses to police actions through the lens of a society that sees someone as guilty until proved innocent, the response from the public makes a lot more sense. If the person being assaulted by police is guilty of some crime, that person deserves what is happening to them according to the general public.

This has been a gradual shift since the founding of our country towards assuming people are guilty of whatever crime they are accused. In modern society, an accusation is taken as fact. Even asking a question of someone is assumed to be the same as an accusation. Logically, then, asking a question assumes the fact is true that is being asked.

We base a lot of our legal principles and how we view things as a society on ideas that have proved not to be true. People being able to assume someone accused of a crime is innocent until proved otherwise is one of those things that has proved not to be true. If the police do not assume innocence of the people they are interacting with, it explains a lot of the problems some people have with the police today.

We need to view someone being accosted by the police through the same lens of if we were in that situation, and were innocent of the crime we were accused of.

Imagine the police grabbing you, telling you to stop resisting, and that they were arresting you for the rape and murder of the woman who lived next door. If your natural inclination is to go limp and say “I am sure this will work out fine for me in the end” I would question if we grew up in the same country with the same principles.

My natural reaction is to resist someone who I feel is attacking me for no reason. Hell, my natural reaction is to resist someone who is attacking me for a good reason. Why do we expect people to not have this reaction? Is that a reasonable expectation?

Leave a Reply