Interview with a Service Member

The following interview is with Senior Airman Pedro Jonah Mora who is a logistics planner in the United States Air Force. Here are his thoughts on some of the recent racial tensions in America. 

Do you believe that police officers aren’t doing anything wrong in the most recent police shootings (i.e. Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Terence Crutcher, Michael Brown, Eric Garner)? Or do you believe that these officers truly feared for their lives and were justified?

They’re very different from each other in terms of officers. Philando got an officer who obviously didn’t know how to keep calm in a situation like that and jumped immediately to shooting. I think the cops genuinely feel they’re doing what they have to but jumping to shoot to kill should be a very last resort. I think it really comes down to training. Cops in America, on average, are trained in as little as 16 weeks in some places. Training that involves de-escalation training, one conversation can determine how a situation develops.

Did the police officers involved in these shootings get the correct amount of punishment?

No, they didn’t. All of them got paid leave. Eric Garner was choked to death in an area where police aren’t allowed to perform a choke hold. Philando was reaching for his wallet, as instructed, and got shot, for compliance with orders. Alton Sterling did not reach for his weapon.

Should politicians and lawmakers do something to change what is happening with police shootings in America? What do you think they could do?

That’s difficult. A lot of this comes down to a local level. I think the best thing they and everyone else can do is educate themselves and to have an open dialogue about it.

Is the Black Lives Matter movement too violent?

For what it is meant to be, no. But as with all movements there are those that take it too far. The movement is meant to call attention to something that happens almost exclusively to the black community in America.

What are your thoughts on All Lives Matter?

I think it’s a d**k move. It’s a d**k response and completely childish response to BLM. Wasn’t around before BLM. I know this example is used alot but it’s like going to breast cancer walk[s] with a poster that says “All Cancers Matter.”

Do you think Colin Kaepernick is right in what he is doing? Why?

It’s not necessarily right or wrong. I think it’s awesome that he’s doing his best to call attention to a real problem in America. But he’s sticking to his gut and convictions and for that he has my respect. He has the right to take a knee, it’s what my brothers and sisters, fought for. The right to not agree, the right to speak up.

Does the government need to be more involved in this 2nd Civil Rights movement of sorts? Or should they take a more laissez-faire approach and let individual police departments handle the training/discipline of officers?

It’s hard for big goverment to get involved with things like this. State level handles police so it’d be hard to pass this problem up to them. Should we extend training times, absolutely. There’s little they can do but they should address it. The change we really want is going to come when officers start holding each other accountable. Even in the  military, there’s force escalation cards and we hold each other accountable. If someone isn’t fit for the force, they’re gone.

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