Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
"Why do we need a Black Lives Matter movement?" "Why are they protesting in the street and blocking traffic?" "They wouldn't need a movement if they didn't run from the police."
Again and again, I find comments like these made by conservative news commentators, family members and trolls on Facebook. My response has been to take a look at the actions of law enforcement officers. And I am convinced that the corruption found in law enforcement more than justifies the need for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Recently, eight members of the Baltimore Police Department's Gun Trace Task Force were indicted on racketeering charges, with six pleading guilty. They've been accused of everything from reselling drugs on the street to stealing money from suspects to conducting searches without warrants. One of the members who pleaded guilty testified that officers carried BB guns with them "in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them."
This astonishing admission gives credence to those who fear unfair treatment from the police. If the police shoot at you, and you are unarmed, this testimony implies they could just go ahead and plant a fake gun and say they saw you reaching for the gun. This is why people run from the police. This is why we need Black Lives Matter.
There are those who would read this and say that it could happen anywhere. Maybe this isn't a problem faced solely by black Americans, but it is certainly more of a problem for them than most racial groups.
In 2017, more than 1,100 people were killed by U.S. police officers. A quarter of those killed were black; however, black people are only 13 percent of the U.S. population. So the proportion of black Americans killed by police last year was nearly double their representation in the U.S. populace.
A national study that covered 2005 to 2011 revealed that police officers are arrested about 1,100 times a year, or about three times a day. This staggering reality again highlights why there is so much mistrust of police officers. Corruption is not a rarity, but a prevalent reality within many police forces.
Statistics such as this one highlight the need to hold law enforcement officers more accountable in every respect. To accomplish this, we must take a harsher stance on corruption and ensure police officers follow the law themselves. This also means combating police brutality and racism among police officers, and giving officers proper training in diffusing tense situations without shooting people.
To have more than 1,000 police arrested and more than 1,000 Americans killed by police in a single year is unacceptable. Black Lives Matter has brought awareness to these issues, and the movement should be encouraged to continue until real changes are made across the country.
Mitchell Rock is a senior government and politics and physiology and neurobiology major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.