BART Shooting Perpetuates Climate of Distrust

Picture from witness of aftermath


By: Sathiyan Sivakumaran

Whether we’re watching the news on the 2016 presidential race or a Youtube video of someone doing a spectacular stunt, the people of America have become increasingly distrustful of the government, popular news outlets, and other people in general. However in the last year or two, police brutality has been a subject of controversy to rival any other subject in the United States. The West Oakland Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) shooting in Oakland, CA only provides more fire to the discussion.

On September 1, 2015 at 8 p.m., there was a shot fired at the West Oakland BART station. According to a press release by BART, 2 police officers had confronted a man smoking on the platform to ask him to stop smoking. The man then reached for a gun he had at his waist, so one of the officers fired his stun gun at the suspect. After this, there was a shot and the suspect was in critical condition after suffering a bullet wound to the abdomen.

This is where the social media response took many different routes. According to the officers on hand, the suspect shot himself upon being tasered by the police. The man was black, which at a time when systemic racism has been a focal point in America’s eyes, has played an important role in the subsequent discussions. According to some, this is another instance of police brutality and a government agency protecting itself through lies. However, others believe this is simply as BART’s press release has indicated: an accidental self-inflicted wound by a suspect.

After these divergent interpretations of the shooting, the trust in police and government agencies is being tested again. Both police officers were wearing body cameras, which BART authorities reviewed prior to releasing the statement on the incident. This fact has led to people requesting the video to be released, despite its potentially violent and disturbing nature. America is becoming more vocal in its request for full disclosure; the responses to this shooting exemplify that in every way. There is a climate of distrust growing in the U.S., and the cries for evidence are getting louder.

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