A small column in the Tuesday, 5/31/05 Oregonian reported that the three officers who shot Vernon Allen, the mid-40's, black, knife wielding man, were cleared of any wrongdoing in that shooting by grand jury.
Vernon Allen was shot dead within seconds after officers responded to an early morning call after the officer arriving first on the scene allowed himself to be entrapped in a chokehold by Allen, breaking free just as the officers gained positions of close proximity to Allen, allowing them to cursorily extinguish Vernon Allen's life.
Everybody has an opinion about whether the officers in question responded appropriately with lethal force. The grand jury seems to think they did. Others think they didn't. In some other police/citizen standoff in the state last week, the officer disabled the aggressor with a shot to the leg.
To many, with the exception of the police force, the actions of the three officers, and the underlying recruitment, training, and philosophy of the police force that produces them appears alarmingly inept and unprepared to respond to the needs of some of those who make up today's society. They guarantee that people like Vernon Allen will continue to be remorselessy eliminated.
Three wussy officers rush a starcrossed, depressed and miserable,lamebrain junkie, ex-con knife-wielding blackman with guns raised and intent to kill because, they're just too cynical or sadistic in they're perception of troubled members of society to consider that this unfortunate person deserved a shot other than the ones out of their guns.
I wonder if the establishment will ever care about guys like Vernon Allen. To so many in it, guys like him are simple parasites to be rid of. Members of it may make polite, public displays of compassion, but in their closed quarters, they snort with contempt about the dregs of society as they inhale their martinis.
We, as a society that grants sucess that includes the most minute, yet fundamentally essential needs of basic human existence, upon conduct and productivity obliged to meet certain market demands, produce guys like Vernon Allen. A society that does not effectively attend to the needs of human beings born in its midst produces criminals, murderers, junkies and so forth.
They are our responsibility. To give substance to our idea of ourselves as a humane society, we must take responsibility to care with compassion for those amongst us who haven't made it and possibly never will.
That's not going to happen if society allows its law enforcement officers to nonchalantly blow away these people, whom some find comfortably forgettable.
Blood of Vernon Allen, cynically spilled, forever stains the sidewalk at Burnside and 5th, by the Cabaret Strip Club. If there is a greater, compassionate force watching over us all, it will have those officers never forget, that in their holsters they carry a gun that wantonly obliterated the life of one unfortunate in our midst.