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Serve and Survive

The Good Guys

When you visualize a member of the army what do you think of? Someone who has sworn to protect and serve this nation and has taken on that duty to better themselves and their country. This is why when they come back from serving, America gives them benefits along with discounts. This is how we express our gratitude in return for their dedication to this nation, taking the time out their lives to protect and serve. Now, I want to ask what do you think of when you imagine a police officer? This question may have varying opinions, perspectives, or however you picture the role of a police officer in society. Some may feel as though the police have the same job as those in the military, to protect and serve. Yet, on the other side of the spectrum, there is the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement.

Two Perspectives One Understanding

Those who find themselves looking at the authorities from this point of view may see them only as people who can legally harass, assault, and kill civilians. Nevertheless, whichever view you have of police enforcement, the presence of their uniform and badge makes an impression without having to say a word. The same could be said for those representing in the military. So, if both of these occupations have a general consensus to serve and protect this country, then no one should better understand this common goal than the two. However, I guess this is not the case when the sense of color comes into play. When a police officer in Virginia made a felony traffic stop of a Black Army officer withholding the reason as to why.

A Felon? Or Army Officer?

This is deeply concerning because it means that the white officer pulled the Army member over with guns drawn prior to mentioning why. Anybody who would find themselves in this position would be in grave fear, making it an immense task to remain calm. Astoundingly, the Army officer in the video does an impeccable job keeping his cool throughout the interaction. With the greeting of guns being the initial action taken, anyone would wonder what the Army officer did to fall victim to a felony traffic stop. Keeping into account that a police officer would only be making this kind of stop if the suspect is actually a suspect or they’ve done something that irrational where they feel they need to protect themselves. Unfortunately, the police officer was not willing to let 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario know why he was stopped while he and his partner held Nazario at gunpoint shouting and ordering him to “get out the car.”

“What’s Going on?”

The police bodycam shows the officer pointing the gun at the vehicle and Nazario from the very beginning. The video then switches to a calm Nazario who sets up his camera and does what I believe any human would, and asks “What is going on?” and “Why are your guns drawn?” The officer again neglects to inform Nazario of the reason behind the stop, continuing to order him out of the car. At this point fear is evident, but the Army member does refuse to get out the car. This is done solely out of worry and lack of compliance. Briefly, after denying the police’s request, Nazario again asks “What’s going on?” As servants of the public, if you want someone to comply, then you have to comply at least to a certain degree as well. Only if the situation is beyond the point of compliance, then it is understood why force is taken.

Did he see his Uniform or his Skin?

During this time Nazario’s hands are out the window and the police see his uniform. Even if they didn’t, this moment is where the Army officer expresses to them “I’m serving this country, and this is how I am treated?” The officer responds and says “Yeah, well guess what I am a veteran to, I know how to obey.” All mutual respect for serving and protecting this country went out the window that very second. If he served this country as well, then why treat one of your fellow comrades this way? I have an idea as to maybe why he showed no sympathy towards Nazario while in full uniform. Perhaps the officer didn’t even see the uniform, maybe he looked through that and only saw the Black skin showing outside of Nazario’s outfit.

If you thought this interaction got better with time, you are sadly mistaken. The matter only escalates as the stalemate continues. Nazario continues to ask “what’s going on?” This only frustrates one of the officers even further as he responds this time saying “What’s going on is you’re fixing to ride the lightning son.” Then almost immediately pulls out his taser urging him to get out of the vehicle. Nazario expresses how he is “honestly afraid to get out.” What is the officer’s response? “Yeah, you should be.” How can an officer expect whoever it is they are dealing with to cooperate after just warning them they should be in fear. Following this, the tension only gets thicker as the officer threatens to pepper spray, Nazario. After trying to open the door himself, the police officer then uses the pepper spray, covering Nazario’s face with the blinding liquid. This also harming a service dog in the back seat riding along with him.

A Never-Ending War

Imagine, serving your country and dedicating time out of life to protect and serve this country, only to come back home to harassment. Having to wonder if you are even safe in the country that you are protecting? With everything transpiring and those who represent the BLM movement and don’t see a reason to fight for the nation, but against it, there remain onlookers. People who may feel another way may find a reason to fight or think all police are not bad. This, this is how they treat them? The select few who are Black men feel this nation is righteous enough to risk their lives for on a daily basis. This police officer did not see a fellow brother in the ranks. He saw a Black man. Never once have I began to explore the bond that is shared between members of the army. Nonetheless, I am willing to bet my life something would be felt that wouldn’t allow for this behavior to occur. For Nazario, it is almost as if the war followed him back home.

John Starcks

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