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 NCAAP, 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.
Of course I don’t mean fuck ALL the police but my general attitude towards police still stands. Why do I have this viewpoint? I doubt my story is different from most Black men that grow up in America but I’m still going to share my story.
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 and 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 went on to sue the city of Greenbelt.
This was my first introduction to exactly how some police officers protect and serve. Last week I had a discussion with a couple of frat brothers on GroupMe 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. Eventually we started sharing our stories. Some were pulled from cars, some were verbally harassed and one was even punched in the face. As my frat 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. This doesn’t mean I don’t feel 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 routing police precaution.
Two years ago my youngest brother was slammed to the ground and arrested in front of my mother’s home in the middle of day. My brother was home from school that day because he wasn’t feeling too well. A friend and him were sitting on the porch and when the police asked them what they were doing my brother got smart with the police officer. This was enough justification to put his hands on my brother. According to the officer the reason he stopped to question my brother was he “fit the description” of a burglary suspect. Ultimately all charges (resisting arrest) were dropped and shortly after my brother cut his locks off.
The job of law enforcement is to protect and serve. I’m tired of them doing everything but that when it comes to our community. I read a report by the Malcom X Grassroots Movement report entitled “Operation Ghetto Storm” that showed data where 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 to myself, “That seems pretty high; it can’t be right.” Then I really contemplated the number of black men who have been gunned down and 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 and police the community. Help those that need help. Pursue real criminals and get them off our streets so that we have safer places to live.
There have been too many young black people across this country whose names I should not know; but I do. Civilians and the law collectively in this country have targeted people of color for a long time and that’s not changing anytime soon. Pictures have surfaced of police officers in full riot gear calling protesters “animals”. There have been reports of officers have firing rubber bullets into crowds of protesters. An all too familiar militarized police has little regard 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.
Some people will argue that I shouldn’t say fuck cops because they aren’t all the same. This argument holds no weight with me because 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 and or termination of employment or at worst they might get convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
When the deck is stacked and it may mean the difference between to 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!