With the police using excessive and discriminatory force that killed George Floyd on May 25, 2020 and the following unrest that has been felt around the world, I found myself falling deeper into sadness. My past experiences with racism on the U.S. mainland flashed back in my mind and so did my experiences with law enforcement abusing their power even here in beautiful Hawaii. Stuff I would rather keep tucked away in the back of my memory.
When a person wears a badge representing the law and carries a gun to enforce it, that’s extreme power, power that can go terribly wrong when the mindset of that person is filled with anger, fear, bias, or racism, and lacking empathy and a cool headed thought process necessary to address stressful situations. The easiest emotion to use in a stressful situation is anger, which can result in verbal and physical violence, or worse, deadly force. If police officers don’t have peace within their lives or their families, how can society expect them to enforce peace for our community.
As a former politician and deputy prosecuting attorney, I’ve worked with the police often. When my constituents contacted me about misconduct by police officers, I worked with the leadership of the Honolulu Police Department to address these issues with their rank and file. As a result, there were members of the law enforcement who didn’t like me.
I’ve also been mistreated by the police. As a young man, I took a young woman I was dating to see the ocean and stars at Diamond Head in Honolulu, Hawaii when an officer banged his large flashlight against my car’s window and yelled at us. In college, a police officer choked my friend and dorm roommate because while the police officers were arresting a fellow dorm resident outside for speeding on his motorcycle, other dorm residents on our floor started chanting, “Let Ed go.” The officer choked my friend while he was brushing his teeth in a bathroom of our dorm, but wasn’t able to choke all the dorm residents since they were in their locked rooms. Physical violence by the police officer on a college kid who made no violent threats against him was uncalled for.
When I had my driving under the influence (“DUI”), I asked the police about the results of the field sobriety test, the probable cause. They got upset and threw me in jail without giving me the opportunity to take the breathalyzer even when I asked for it. They lied to me when they said they didn’t have an officer operating the breathalyzer machine when they did as shown by their records. They charged me with refusal even though I didn’t refuse when I asked them to let me take the breathalyzer test, a law that was overturned by the Hawaii Supreme Court as violating one’s rights. When I was arrested for driving under the influence, I never told the police that I was a deputy prosecuting attorney and legislative liaison at the Department of Prosecuting Attorney of the City and County of Honolulu at that time. Nor did I mention any of my friends or family who were police officers because I didn’t want to be treated differently because of my position or relationship with other police officers.
African Americans face the harshest treatment and punishment by law enforcement and the judicial system. Many of them have died by it. African Americans also face more discrimination throughout our society. Facts and statistics prove this. It hurts that we’re still facing the same problems many of our ancestors and predecessors fought to improve.
A part of my soul feels beaten down; however, I will continue to work with you and others to to better our world. Working on +positive masters+ has been therapeutic for me, and I hope that some of the content I share can help ease any anxiety, depression, or anger that you may be undergoing.
Jon Riki Karamatsu
Feel free to visit the +positive masters+ universe at www.positivemasters.com for mindset practices, motivational writing, business development strategies, and inspirational apparel to boost your happiness and counter any anxiety, sadness, or anger that you may be facing.