OPINION

Geraldo Rivera: Ferguson and the denial dilemma

Police arrest protester Derrick Robinson, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis.

Police arrest protester Derrick Robinson, Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in St. Louis.  (ap)

Three black men were killed in Newark New Jersey this holiday weekend by other black men. Nine others were wounded in 10 shootings. There was similar black-on-black gun violence throughout urban America over the last couple days, including here in New York City, where four were shot at a baby shower in Brooklyn.

Will the president even mention the grim fact of urban violence at today's Ferguson-related meetings with civil rights leaders and law enforcement at the White House; the fact that poor, urban black neighborhoods are committing a kind of suicide?

I doubt it.

I'm betting the various anti-police, Ferguson-related demonstrations today will also fail to note the toll from the weekend's black-on-black-violence. Ignoring it as well will be the St. Louis Rams football players who ran onto the field on Sunday with their hands up to protest Michael Brown's death.

No more police militarization. Stop the unnecessary deaths of unarmed youngsters, however boisterous or even threatening they may be. Disable them. Don’t kill them.

- Geraldo Rivera

Reading black and progressive criticism of the Ferguson grand jury's failure to indict the white cop that killed the kid is to wade across a river of denial. Ignored or belittled is the underlying reason there are so many tragic encounters between cops and young black men. It is that so many young black men are engaged in violent crime.

But there is also denial from pro-police advocates, most of whom are white. The fact is, too many young black men are dying in encounters with the police that should not be fatal.

Because there is sadly no end in sight to the underlying cause of tension between the urban black community and cops, namely poverty, crime and social dysfunction, law enforcement must alter its tactics. There must be an end to the militarization of police. Non-lethal tactics must become more of a priority to handle these situations.

When a cop encounters an angry or otherwise threatening civilian, like Michael Brown, the first reaction should not be the use of fatal force, even if legally justifiable.

Stun, don’t shoot.

The federal government should make non-lethal weapons and tactics training available to all urban/suburban police forces. Give them Tasers. We must end the program that distributes excess military equipment to local police. They don’t need tanks or armored personnel carriers to keep the peace. They are there to enforce the law, not invade or occupy a neighborhood. They are cops not soldiers. Give the police appropriate weapons and training that allows them to enforce the law and still save lives.

No more police militarization. Stop the unnecessary deaths of unarmed youngsters, however boisterous or even threatening they may be. Disable them. Don’t kill them.

Tasers, not tanks.

Geraldo Rivera currently serves as a roaming correspondent-at-large for Fox News Channel. He joined the network in 2001 as a war correspondent.