I do not want to hear about how this is not a black issue. Or black lives don’t matter more than others so the #blacklivesmatter movement is unnecessary. I don’t want to hear about how the police are to protect and to serve because for the vast majority of black Americans, the boys in blue are there to do anything but protect or serve.
I was stunned to see and hear the cities finest respond to a call by a mother asking for help with her schizophrenic son. (http://thisweekinblackness.com/elon-james-white/within-19-seconds-cops-shoot-mentally-ill-man-holding-screwdriver/ ) the police arrive and she informed them again that he has a screwdriver and he is mentally challenged. When he arrives at the door of his own home with his mother there, the police see a very small screwdriver in his hand. Who knows if he was just fixing a loose screw or if the only loose screw was one or more of the people present. What we do know is that not 19 seconds after arrival the police escalate the situation to the point of their gunning down the man amidst yelled orders and fear filled reactions. I am not a doctor, but I am quite sure that if. Alerts on is schizophrenic, that person will not react as you might expect by escalating and yelling at him. Certainly not being yelled at by multiple voices.
So yet another black man is murdered and the police are the killers. Can you imagine the horror and dismay the mother has? She called the police to help. Instead they killed. And even the police knew they were wrong because immediately after killing him, they clearly said they can’t talk about this right now. Body cameras on, voices being recorded. Clearly they knew they were at least on thin ice and needed a chance to get their stories straight before the police supervisor showed up or media arrived.
This is a clear indication and reminders of why there is so little trust between the black and brown in society today. Because more often than not, we as black and brown Americans, are seen as agitators and not agreeable. Situations instead of citizens. Monsters instead of men. Something to be afraid of rather than someone to be friends with.
How many more of my brothers and sisters must die before this is taken seriously? How many?
I recently was at a continuing education seminar. In that seminar we were taught that our greatest desire as officials should be to move from the realm of enforcement and into the land of compliance. Being a compliance officer means that communications no relationship has been established. That the citizens and the officers have entered into dialogue and gotten to know one another as people. Not just as statistics. Compliance is part of an education process. It means that the citizens who act under the law have had an opportunity to be educated by the officers and the relationship is not confrontational or adversarial. Why? Because they know each other. They don’t feel afraid of one another.
Fear is a serious and real byproduct of unfamiliarity. You’ve heard the phrase we are the unknown. There’s a reason why the movies intended to scare us have shadows playing against walls. Dark figures lurking around corners. Hidden faces under cloaks. We fear what we are unfamiliar with. What we cannot see. What we do not know. Who we do not know. The melts dangerous person is the one that is unpredictable and nothing causes unpredictable behavior like not knowing how someone will act. And we do not know how someone will act if they are afraid because when we are afraid we react counter to logic.
This is an open appeal for compliance. Not enforcement. Familiarity not fear. This is a call for the end of fear based enforcement centered policing and a beginning of community based compliance centered policing. We need the police. Yes we do. But what would the police do if we decided we no longer want or need them? It’s terribly shortsighted to expect the citizens to be good citizens if the citizens are nothing short of frightened of the very service providers that we are expected to to trust.