Kristian Williams

Analysis of Police 11.08.07

Teen's shooting part of historical police pattern

My Word  11/08/2006   by Alex Scherbatskoy

I am writing in response to a front page article in the Nov. 5 edition entitled “Six Years in the System: A dark journey -- How Chris Burgess ended up shot to death.”

I am a student at Goddard College in Vermont and a Humboldt County resident and property owner. Goddard College has been at the forefront in progressive education for over 100 years, with curriculums focused on social justice, class, and race issues.

My own study includes an extensive exploration of the roots of police violence. The Times-Standard article mentioned above does not in any way explain “how Chris Burgess ended up shot to death,” as the title implies. It does portray the trials and tribulations of Chris' childhood, but these trials and tribulations do not explain the shooting. Neither does the previous Times-Standard article that proclaimed loudly on the front page that Chris was on “meth” when he was killed.

Any educated expert would agree that the shooting of Christopher Burgess is the result of a well-documented, nationwide, systematic pattern of violence that began in 1845 when New York City instituted what is commonly considered the first modern police force (Kristian Williams, 2004, p. 56).

The principal job of these early police was as a patrol to apprehend escaped slaves. In 1996, 20 percent of the American public had direct contact with the police, 471,000 were subject to the use of force, and 373 were killed (U.S. Department of Justice).

A study of the development of modern policing reveals certain characteristics of police conduct before, during and after police shootings. These characteristics are present in the Christopher Burgess shooting to a striking degree. So much so that, as I stand and listen to the police chief explain his position, I imagine that I could be listening to testimony regarding any of the once-daily deaths that can be attributed to police.