The real whistle-blower in police brutality

Story highlights

  • Arnold: If not for videos and social media, we wouldn't know about many instances of police brutality
  • The criminal justice system needs to do much more to ensure equal protection of the laws, he says

Aaron Paxton Arnold, an entrepreneur and lifestyle consultant, is the founder of MusicIsMyBusiness. He's written for publications such as Forbes and Fast Company. Follow him on Twitter: @MrMIMB. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)If I could design the next cover of New York Magazine, I'd borrow the same concept as the powerful and widely noted display of 35 of Bill Cosby's accusers.

But instead of the women who said they were victimized by the famous actor and comedian, I'd grace the cover with the many unarmed black men and women gunned down by police over the last few years alone -- and use the empty chair to symbolize the next victim and those who died without any publicity.
Aaron Arnold
But that won't happen, so I thank you Facebook, I thank you Twitter, I thank you Instagram and all other social media platforms that have shined the light on police brutality. Thank you Android, I thank you iPhone, I thank you Blackberry (yes some of us still use them) and other smart phone devices.
    If not for you, too many Americans would continue to think that African-Americans and people of color in general were merely crying wolf when it came to the rampant killing of unarmed black people that has plagued us for decades. And we must thank the police body-cams because they, too, are now telling the story of many whose accounts have gone ignored for years.
    A segment of America wouldn't believe that false police testimonies and coverups even existed despite years of protests from the African-American community.
    In 2015, it's not the American justice system that's bringing attention to the disproportionate number of African-Americans being murdered by police, but smartphones and social media platforms.
    This is not about police bashing. I have family who are members of major police forces throughout America, and I pray they come home safe everyday. And Saturday night America was reminded how dangerous law-enforcement's job is. Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton, 33, was shot and killed after making a traffic stop, and police have arrested the alleged killer.
    According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 51 law enforcement officers were killed in 2014 in the line of duty -- 89% more than the 27 officers killed in 2013). I have witnessed since my childhood what those police men and women endure each and everyday and overall I still believe they're our first line of defense when something goes awry.
    However, the strained relationship between African-Americans and law-enforcement runs deep. It goes back as far as the systematic oppression of Jim Crow. So when yet another unarmed black man, Samuel DuBose, 43, is shot and killed at the hands of the now ex-University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing, who claims he feared for his life despite contradictory video evidence, it reeks of another failure of justice. Tensing was indicted, charged with murder and voluntary manslaughter and bonded out of jail.
    Will this case wind up being another example of hubris, reinforcing the idea that one can shoot an unarmed African-American with few consequences outside of possible public shame? Time will tell if Tensing will be convicted.
    Until the courts effectively deliver justice, the real hero is modern day technology. If not for it, families like those of DuBose and Walter Scott, 50 would not have received initial justice. Oh yes, let us not forget about Scott who ran away from a traffic stop for a broken taillight and was gunned-down by Officer Michael Slager. Slager claimed Scott had taken his stun gun, but Slager was subsequently fired and charged with murder after a video surfaced showing Scott running away, his back to the officer, as Slager fired his gun several times at the unarmed man. Whew, the perfect camera phone at the most horrific time!
    According to the Guardian, blacks killed by police this year were more than twice as likely to be unarmed as were whites.
    The Guardian said 32% of African-Americans killed were unarmed while 15% of whites and 25% of Latinos did not have weapons.
    While smart phones and social media aid in delivering court-of-public opinion justice, they don't necessarily deliver indictments and convictions. Remember that NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo wasn't even indicted in the death of Eric Garner.
    All lives do matter in a utopian society, but in today's society that doesn't hold weight when it comes to the epidemic of violence against people of color, especially African-Americans. We have laws to deter criminals from committing horrific crimes against citizens and we must have specific laws and national policy reform that holds law-enforcement accountable in the same way.
    Are classes and more training really the solution to changing decades of a mindset that some police have toward black people in this country? One place to start may be to consider the 10-Point Justice Plan that the National Urban League has proposed.
    "It's the most difficult policing environment in the history of our nation. But, that doesn't excuse away bad behavior ... we have got to be right. We have got to be constitutional, " said Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell. I couldn't agree more.