We have been living in a police state for a long time now. The grip Law Enforcers have on this country (the so-called United States of America) has waxed and waned over the centuries, but Trust and Believe that this has for the most part always been How It Is.
And also for the most part, People Of Color (POC) especially Black People have been the ones bearing the brunt of their attentions. In fact, policies have been drawn up, laws have been made specifically to keep us in line, under thumb and with jackboots on our necks as we lie there helpless to do anything about it.
If you as a white person have felt any little piece of this Police State, it’s only the inevitable overflow, or you put yourself in harm’s way, on their radar, by your own actions. Because, again, Trust and Believe, this status quo is for sure not meant for you, or to affect you, or at least not as you go about your daily lives.
Stop & Frisk interrupts the daily lives of thousands of Black and Brown youths – especially young males – each and every day in cities across this country, and this policy, while finally getting special scrutiny in New York after over a decade of being able to operate with impunity, is being looked at by many cities as a policy they want to implement. Hell, why not? They might get a good 10 year run out of it, before anyone does anything about it.
Racial profiling, especially DWB (Driving While Black) has effected my own life in significant ways, and while Dave Chapelle and other Black comedians may joke about it, we know that sometimes laughter eases the pain, and maybe the message might be a bit more palatable couched in an HBO special, or within the lyrics of a song.
But the truth of the matter is I’ve seen with my own eyes my fears come to life with devastating results. Nobody seemed to blink when the Patriot Act became policy, became the law of the land. Because you were tricked into thinking it would be Them and not You who would be getting the highly accelerated attentions of Law Enforcers. Who now have the blessings of the government to do whatever they want to you and yours.
Not Me, though. I shuddered and worried for my people, because I knew it was such a small step to take from rounding up “suspected terrorists” to enacting those same modes of conduct on my people. I’m way too tired to list the hundreds and thousands of incidents that have been wracked up in the ensuing years that proved my fears to be justified.
But I did write a breakdown post about the video of 26 officers coming to help arrest one skinny Black guy who did nothing but allegedly jump a turnstyle. The law enforcer’s response to the Black male “suspect” is to go overkill and subdue at all costs. In my opinion, it was pure luck that man didn’t go the way of Oscar Grant.
I did write about police tackling and nearly killing a 14 year old Black kid because they didn’t like his body language. A child. They nearly murdered a child, because he expressed his anger and upset at being targeted and profiled not with words, or actions, but with a look and a tensing up of his body. They say he clenched his fist – as if that is even a justifiable reason for two grown armed men to tackle an unarmed child – but he was holding his puppy in his arms at the time so… yeah… NO.
And let’s not forget when I wrote about Howard Morgan who gets jumped by FOUR fellow law enforcers, they shoot him up, leave him for dead, but he survives his injuries only to be put on trial (twice) and end up with a 40 year prison sentence for attempted murder. Yes, the attempted murder of the 4 police officers who nearly killed him. Welcome to Amerikkka. Yes Howard Morgan is Black and the four law enforcers who jumped him and shot him 28 times were white.
LeVar Burton Explains How He Avoids Being Shot By Police. Yes, the very same gentleman who recently raised 5.4 million dollars to help further literacy for American children. And a film and television star to boot. But he’s Black and male and his life hangs in the balance every time he has an interaction with the police.
I’m writing this post because the murder of Eric Garner by the NYPD this past July 17th, is just about the last straw. Not only was he murdered in cold blood, and on tape for the whole world to see – a video I will not ever be able to watch btw – he was killed using a chokehold which had been outlawed by the NYPD itself in 1993. It was against the law for police to use that particular “technique” as they go about their “duties”. Yet and still, during the intervening decades there have been weekly (on average about 3/week) complaints from citizens about officers using chokeholds. You do the math.
I’m guessing the officer(s) in question are “suspended with pay” yet again, and will in the long run face no criminal charges at all. Why do I think this? Because they were doing their jobs exactly the way they were supposed to. Excessive force being the unspoken code of conduct when it comes to arresting Black people, no matter what window dressing laws are passed to police the behavior of the police.
[UPDATED TO ADD]: The officer who actually killed Eric Garner has been “stripped of his badge and gun” so that means he’s fired right? NOPE. He’s on desk duty for the duration of the investigation. Still pulling in a paycheck for murdering someone – doesn’t even lose his job. The other officer involved has been put on desk duty as well, but will keep his gun and badge. They have both been “taken off the street”. Like that even means anything.
So many deaths at the hands of police could have been avoided. Remember the recent rash of “suicides” by Black males in Police custody? We are magical negroes indeed when we can shoot ourselves in the head while being unarmed and handcuffed in the back of police vehicles. Or alone in a jail cell. Or handcuffed and being taken into custody. We just magically end up dead. Over and over and over again.
I for one am sick and tired of it. And it isn’t only our Black men being targeted and bearing the brunt of this kind of lawless behavior. Black women and our Black children are increasingly being made victims of this.
Law enforcement systems in this country were originally set up to protect wealthy white males, their property, their women and their homes. They teamed up with segments of the Ku Klux Klan to create Paterollers and drew from that pool to populate their Sheriffs, Police Chiefs and to run the so-called Justice Departments.
You’ve heard about the Oakland PD’s Rough Riders? There’s a reason why they chose to call themselves that, and a reason why they were able to operate in such lawless ways for so long, and when finally brought to court in 2002-2003, there was somehow no way to get any of the 100’s of charges of misconduct to stick.
People talk about advocating to Stop Police Brutality and End Police Department Corruption and all that. But what needs to be looked at is the endemic system of racism that exists in this country. These sorts of things don’t happen in a vacuum. They don’t flourish and become unspoken policy by happenstance.
You can put a bandaid on a symptom, but unless the actual problem is addressed, this will continue to happen. I write this post today, because I can’t NOT write about it. Not one of those law enforcers saw Eric Garner as a human being. They snuffed out his life like it was nothing. And they will face little to no reprimand for their murder – caught on tape as it was – because hardly any of these officers ever do.
When you suspend someone and yet still keep paying them, that is not a punishment. You are giving them a paid vacation. They don’t have to show up to work, and yet they will still receive a paycheck. When you opt to “take them off the street” by way of giving them desk duty instead of their regular duties, you sure haven’t even fired them or even suspended them at all have you?
Rarely do we ever see officers in similar circumstances get suspended without pay, or fired, or in any danger of losing their jobs, their pensions, or paychecks. Nor brought up on charges of murder either for that matter, and if they do get charged and end up in trial, they more often than not: walk away scot-free.
More and more, people in countries around the world are coming to the realization that America is a police state. I wonder if Americans are going to wake up to that reality anytime soon. And when I say Americans I mean White America, because everything is always so peachy keen in this country, and they view the police and law enforcers in a whole different way than we do. But we been knowing about this Police State since our ancestors first stepped foot on these shores.
One thing I wanted to mention before I sign off, is something that one of my favorite TWiB (This Week In Blackness) podcasters Aaron Rand Freeman brings up often. There is no actual need for any of this excessive force and overkill response from law enforcers. In nearly all of these situations they are the only ones armed. They are also in radio reach of calling for backup: for more armed personnel to come to their aid. They also have the power and backing of the laws of land in their favor as well as the solidarity of the Blue Line.
Why not simply just put someone in handcuffs and take them down to the station? Why is there a need for the chokeholds, tasing, beatings and shootings? There isn’t any need. Plenty of law enforcers manage to make arrests of unarmed people without resorting to all that madness.
And yet we hear of officers slapping children, punching people, using illegal chokeholds, applying excessive force, tackling kids, shooting unarmed people – over and over and over again. If there is no need for all of that, then why does it happen? When you live in a police state guess who has all the power, and guess who can behave in whatever manner they see fit, without fear of any major repercussions?
The law enforcers that’s who.
Stop murdering my people.
Barely three days after writing this: #MikeBrown Another Unarmed Young Black Man Shot Dead by Police. And today – 8/11/14 – RIGHT NOW in fact, Police are tear gassing people and shooting rubber bullets in #Ferguson.