Another day in the life of the city. Another death that should not have happened. And nothing seems to change. The police killed Eddie Irizarry Jr., and the experts tell us that his death illustrates our society’s larger problems. Solutions to gun violence exist, but this nation lacks the political will to change. We are moving in the opposite direction. The deep divisions brought to light by the political conflict of MAGA versus democracy have allowed those who favor violence to control the conversation. The Gun Lobby, as we know, treats our representatives in Congress like puppets who exist to serve the NRA and the extreme right wing of the GOP. The violent extremists count congressmen and women in their ranks. We know who they are because they took part in the failed coup of January 6. The same cowards hiding from the rioting mob that day are still there. They are supporting the return of their savior; they want more guns more power in the courts, and they want us to believe that they are true patriots. But we might never forget that people with guns are a real threat, and our children cannot be safe in schools, shopping centers, or churches. We are supposed to live in fear because they pose with their guns in campaign ads, want us to be afraid to vote, and want to control the legislatures. If we seek explanations about crime and violence in the streets, we don’t have to look too far. Gun violence is the dominant culture of our days, and that is the culture that shapes our law enforcement agents. They don’t offer real solutions to the wave of violence in all forms. Some states campaign to allow people with mental problems to obtain gun permits. At every opportunity, the gun lobby will question the need for sensible laws to impose any age limits. Their representatives have put forth the most absurd proposals, such as arming schoolteachers.
Eddie Irizarry’s death at the hands of the police will not move the needle towards a solution to the violence that engulfs our cities. There are calls for marches to call attention to the issue of police violence. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw announced the suspension of Officer Mark Dial with the intent to dismiss. His actions cannot be explained or forgiven. He shot 27-year-old Eddie while he sat in his vehicle. He was not a threat, as can be seen in video footage. There will be an investigation only because there is proof that the police lied in their report of the incident. Camera footage revealed that Eddie never left his vehicle and never threatened the officer. That is not a simple mistake; it is a deliberate execution, and his family and friends are right to demand explanations and justices.
But his punishment will not bring back that young life. We are left with a repetition of promises to reform the police. In the end, if there is no desire to reform our culture of gun violence, and our leaders persist in their cowardice, we will never have a chance to shape the society we want.