Some White People Have For Years Weaponized Police Against Black People!
In the past week the New York Daily News and LA Times have had articles about some white people calling the police on black people that were not breaking any laws. A white woman who is apparently a physician called the police on a black family that was having a barbecue in a common picnic area. This situation was caught on video by another white citizen who downloaded the ridiculous incident to social media. It has resulted in many memes and jokes about the woman known now know as “Barbecue Becky.” But unfortunately, it does not stop there.
Since the incident there have been videos of white people calling the police on an eight year old child selling lemonade outside of her home, an Ivy league student having the cops called on her for falling asleep while studying in the lounge at her dorm, a black family thrown out of a church service while by a priest while grieving for a family member and unfortunately the list goes on and on. Now it seems like a daily occurrence in the news and social media that someone white is calling the police on someone black for basic things in life.
The sad part is for many black Americans like myself “This is America.” I have literally experienced the cops being called on me for living in the wrong apartment in the wrong side of town, but when I wore the uniform of a United States Army Officer, I was given a pass by the same officers that needed to see my ID in order to verify if I lived in the same gated community that they confronted me in just 2 days prior. Many of my white colleagues and associates have expressed shock and awe as they listened to my personal stories as well as the many stories of black people who have been unfairly targeted by police.
It often seems that black people and white people overwhelming live in two distinctly different realities in America. When black people see white Americans weaponizing the police it is often seen as business as usual. There is a historical reason why many black Americans that understand history are not surprised when the cops are called. Now I know for some this seems like a generalization. However, when we look at the interaction between law enforcement and the black community there is a historical context that often goes ignored. Americans of all races are rarely told the entire truth about the origins of police departments and its link to slavery. In 1704, the colony of Carolina developed nation’s first deputized slave patrol to maintain economic wealth, assist wealthy land owners to punish and recover people that were forced into slavery.
This was all legally enforced, but morally it was one of the worst atrocities committed in the history of this country. Always keep in mind slavery was legal so when some defend immorality like police violence with a statement about something being lawful it has already been established that many of the ideas that were lawfully enforced in this country were morally wrong. The origin of policing comes from the slave patrols and it was not only socially instituted by citizens, but it was legally backed by local, state and federal governments. For example, the state of Virginia instituted more than 140 slave statutes from 1689 to 1865. This allowed of the arrest of black people for doing nearly any task imaginable from traveling without a pass to opening a business.
The slave pass can be compared to modern day stop and frisk were an ordinary citizen can be forced to have an interaction with the police for simply walking in their own neighborhood. It is important to understand that this discrimination was not merely a southern thing. States like Connecticut, New Jersey and New York passed many fugitive slave acts which often resulted in black people that were “free” being incarcerated or enslaved for no actual legitimate crime. In addition, there were “Sun Down Towns” all over America as late as the 1980’s where signs were up that warned black people not to enter the towns after dark or they would be incarcerated or worse. Now some people will probably dismiss this because slavery was so long ago. However, there are two undeniable points to consider.
The origin of the police is undeniably connected to the controlling of black people and natives. Secondly, this pattern continues today. Some white people have weaponized law enforcement against people of color for longer than this nation has existed and until we are honest about the truth, we won’t be able to fix the issue. This history is part of the reason why many black Americans and white Americans see calling the police very differently. This is also why the tone set by some police officers can be vastly different when they are dealing with a person of color that has a uniform as opposed to a person of color that is simply exercising his or her right to do everyday things like walking.
Most white Americans will never know what it is like to have an officer ask for their identification or detain them from simply walking in their neighborhood. For people that do not understand, I challenge you to have the conversation with a black person and understand our experience. There should be no surprise, shock or awe anymore because ignoring our plight is empowering injustice. We live in a nation that boasts freedom and justice for all, but can you truly say we are free when black people still have to answer to the slave patrols in order to get permission to do the things that are supposed to be inherently American? I should not need an ID to barbecue with my family. Think about it America. Remember we are all in the same struggle. Our rise is the collective demise of injustice.
1struggle, 1peace, 1LUV