Categories
Police Brutality

A Few Words About the Police

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The fallout following Mike Brown’s murder is a couple of days old now and I’ve seen many give their opinions of various topics related to this heinous crime including racism, classism, the ineptness of the NAACP, the backlash behind President Obama’s official statement, respectability politics and the role of police in our community/police brutality. The latter is a subject I want to broach today with this post. Before I begin let me state how I feel about the police.

Fuck them.

Of course, I don’t mean that for ALL the police but my general attitude towards police still stands. Why? I doubt my story is different from far too many Black men growing up in America, but I’ll share my story anyway.

In 1989, when I was seven years old, my father was severely beaten by Greenbelt police (PG County, MD) officers. What did my father do to deserve a beating (the question that apologists always ask)? He was fired from his job. When my dad refused to leave the premises the police were called. Upon arrival after a few words were exchanged my father was beaten with nightsticks. His injuries required hospitalization. My father then sued the city of Greenbelt.

This was my introduction to how some police officers protect and serve. Last week I had a discussion with a couple of frat brothers and our conversation centered on the murder of Eric Garner. Our discussion then shifted to what cities on the east coast had the worst police force. We started sharing our stories. Some were pulled from cars, some were verbally harassed and one was even punched in the face. As they were telling their stories I couldn’t help but chime in “my experiences have been nothing like y’all.”

I’ve never had an officer pull their gun on me or physically put their hands on me. I’ve lived in PG County, MD during a period of heightened police shootings, in the South where racial tensions are supposedly higher, and in New York City during the stop and frisk era. Still, I can’t escape feelings of anxiety when I’m driving and I see a police officer pull behind me. I wonder if my license or registration is expired. I start doing calculations in my head.

“Even though it’s the middle of the afternoon and I’m driving to a meeting would I fail a Breathalyzer?

“If this cop doesn’t like me would he intentionally plant drugs in my car?”

On the chance I do get pulled over I wonder if the additional 4 police cars he calls for backup are there because of my color or if he’s taking a routine police precaution.

I’ve never had an officer pull their gun on me or physically put their hands on me. I’ve lived in PG County, MD during a period of heightened police shootings, in the South where racial tensions are supposedly higher, and in New York City during the stop and frisk era. Still, I can’t escape feelings of anxiety when I’m driving and I see a police officer pull behind me.

Two years ago, my youngest brother was slammed to the ground and arrested in front of my mother’s home. My brother was home from school that day because he was under the weather. He and a friend of his were sitting on the porch when a police officer asked them why they were there. My brother got smart with the police officer and for him, this was enough justification to put his hands on my brother. According to the officer, the reason he questioned my brother was because he “fit the description” of a burglary suspect. Ultimately all charges (resisting arrest) were dropped. My brother, after the ordeal, cut his locks off.

The job of law enforcement is to protect and serve. A job that doesn’t seem to be a priority when it comes to the black community. I read a report by the Malcom X Grassroots Movement titled “Operation Ghetto Storm” which showed data alleging every 28 hours, a Black man in this country is killed by a police officer or vigilante. When I first heard of this statistic I thought, “that seems high; it can’t be right.” Then I contemplated the number of black men who have been gunned down and the fact those killings had never gained national media attention. This is an epidemic that too many people outside of our community don’t see as a problem. So when I say “fuck the police,” I don’t say so arbitrarily or haphazardly. It comes from a place of pain, of fear, of anxiety and of anger.

I want my people to be able to live in peace and trust that police officers will do their job. For them to live in a community where officers who will help those that need it and pursue real criminals to get them off our streets so we have safer places to live.

I want my people to be able to live in peace and trust that police officers will do their job. For them to live in a community where officers who will help those that need it and pursue real criminals to get them off our streets so we have safer places to live.

There have been too many young black people across this country whose names I should not know; but do. Both the civilians and the law in this country have targeted people of color for a long time and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon. I’ve seen pictures of police officers in full riot gear calling protesters “animals”. There have been reports of officer firing rubber bullets into crowds of protesters. It’s all too familiar. It’s disgusting to see militarized police as a response for a community that is mourning the murder another black person. The pictures I have been seeing look more like an occupation of a foreign country than an American city. I would complain about how the system is broken, but the sad part is the system is working.

I want my people to be able to live in peace and trust that police officers will do their job. For them to live in a community where officers who will help those that need it and pursue real criminals to get them off our streets so we have safer places to live.

Some people will argue that I shouldn’t feel this way about the police because they aren’t all the same. This argument holds no weight with me. There is an unspoken war going on in America between my people and the police. In this war, only the police have the right to kill with impunity. They get paid leave, termination of employment, or in the most rarest of circumstances,a possible conviction of involuntary manslaughter.

When the deck is stacked and it may mean the difference between life and death, I don’t have the luxury of trying to differentiate between good and bad cops. So, as N.W.A. so eloquently put it, fuck the police!

This article originally appeared on The Native Son.

By Tunde Akinyeke, Ph.D

Tunde is a D.C.-born, 30-something living in the Pacific Northwest and being the best biomedical researcher he can be. He blogs at BiggerThomas.org and is 1/4 of NWAP (NegrosWithAPodcast). Sometimes Tunde writes about politics, history, or social injustices, and other times he might be moved to discuss sports, sex, or his personal life. He's just random.