When we hear in the news that a Black person was beaten or killed by the police, we usually assume it was a white officer. However, that’s not always the situation. There was a Black officer charged in the killing of George Floyd in 2020, Alex Kueng. What’s ironic is that he pledged to fix the police. He believed he was in the best position to make significant changes. However, it seemed he had become part of the problem. On his third complete shift, he assisted in the brutal oppression of another Black man. He watched as a white officer slowly suffocated a human being to death. His own family called for his arrest. Is the culture of brutality against Black bodies so pervasive that it led a Black rookie cop to forget his high moral ground? I would say it must be.
Three of the police officers accused of killing Freddie Grey were African American. Mr. Grey’s neck was broken, and his voice box was crushed.Several witnesses attested to him being removed from the van and tased several times. The young man can be heard screaming, “I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe” is the mantra of police brutality against Black bodies. Yet, as we know, all six of those officers, including the Black ones, were not convicted of any crimes.
It’s easy to imagine a white cop beating or shooting a Black person to death because unfortunately, throughout this nation’s history, white supremacy over Black lives has murdered many African Americans. According to the American Medical Association, between 2016 and 2018, 74,000 more African Americans died from inequality.
Black people are twice as likely to be killed by the police than white people. The police shot and killed 1,055 people in 2021, according to the data collected by The Washington Post. Black people accounted for twenty-seven percent of those shootings but are only thirteen percent of the population.
The police have a problem shooting African Americans. It’s been this way for years. It’s a war, and melanated bodies are the casualties. We must teach our children differently when it comes to police interaction. A sudden movement can be life and death with the wrong officer. When I ask my white friends how they teach their kids to interact with the police, their teaching is always less pensive than mine.
I must protect my Black children because Black lives and bodies are worthless to the police, and it doesn’t matter the color of the officer in the uniform. It’s the culture and the climate of the organization.
John Singleton tried to tell us in his 1991 classic “Boys in the Hood” that the race of the cop didn’t matter. After the altercation in Crenshaw, Ricky and Tre are fleeing from the shooting when the police pull them over. One of the police officers is Black, and he immediately begins talking about hating Tre and Black people. He uses the n-word and pulls a gun on him. He states he could blow Tre’s head off, and nothing would happen. Singleton was exemplifying on the screen how a Black officer wasn’t in our corner. He was a cop first and nothing further.
The organization is the issue when it comes to the police. When rookies with good intentions, like the young Black officer involved in Floyd’s murder, join the blue gang, they become indoctrinated.
Black officers are not immune to systemic racism and bias in the police force. When they pull over a young Black male, the cop only sees a potential criminal or problem. Tyre Nichols wasn’t offered the opportunity to explain or ask questions. When he did, he was summarily pulled from his vehicle, thrown to the ground, and tased when they thought he wasn’t compliant. When he ran, he sealed his fate, which was a death sentence. Why? Because he was Black.
The police have harassed my son several times. So each time he starts his car and leaves, my mind has a bit of trepidation. Several years ago, my son was returning from a local fast-food restaurant when a cop pulled behind him in my driveway. The cop exited his car and told my son he ran a stop sign several blocks ago. He looked at the cop and said no. The officer continued saying he did. While he was trying to defend himself and saying that wasn’t true, the cop called two more squad cars.
My son feared for his life at that point. He could have lost his life because of a flinch in the driveway of the home he grew up in. He called me in tears. A 21-year-old man was traumatized by the ones sworn to protect and serve.
However, the grim truth is it could have consisted of three squads of black officers, and the interaction would’ve been the same. Tyre Nichols and Freddie Grey proved that.
As always thanks for reading and peace.