Another day, another black man being roughed up by police for existing while black. Tony tells us the story, and he’s got some great questions at the end for those white folks who are all, “Don’t do anything wrong and you won’t have to worry!”
They say if we follow those easy to remember rules, then we won’t face extreme violence from police officers. Well, what handy-dandy tips do they have for us when we’re engaged in the same activities that everyone else does in the course of a day? When you’re minding your own business in public, where you have the right to be, and you’re walking, which you have the right to do, and you’re attacked by cops who think you look like this *other* black person they’re looking for and don’t even bother to ensure they have the right suspect? How do we avoid that? I mean since we’re talking about the steps white people think black people need to take to avoid cops choosing to use excessive force on us. Heaven forbid we talk about cops modifying their behavior so that they don’t brutalize black folk.
And, y’know, white folk who think black folk bring police violence on themselves: encouraging cops to use maximum force in every confrontation in which they feel the least bit uncomfy, or in which they want to assert their authority over a potential “thug” (y’know, someone not wearing a tailored suit and who happens to be an older straight white cis dude), or in which they feel disrespected, or in which they encountered the person they wished to talk to while they were having a bad day, or in which they had a shiny new baton or taser or gun, or… well, I shouldn’t have to continue painting you pictures, now, should I? If you encourage the cops to use force rather than non-violent, non-confrontational techniques to approach people they wish to talk to who are darker-hued, they’re going to start using those techniques on lighter and lighter people, until everyone is subject to unreasonable force by a militarized and highly belligerent gang of assholes with a badge and a taste for blood.
Well, my gosh, that’s actually already happening, isn’t it?
We are going to have to stop telling people of color how perfect they must be in order to survive an encounter with police unmolested, and start a revolution in policing. We need to take the military toys away from our cops, fire the racists and bigots and misogynists, fire the ones who put on the badge and the gun for the rush they get from their power, and train the remaining cops how to serve the public. We need a universal ethos of protect and serve. Not “protect and serve the rich white guys while fucking over the poor and the dark.” Not “protect our own police lives at all costs, even if that means taking the lives of an endless stream of unarmed people, and roughing up the ones we don’t kill.” We need police to value the lives of everyone in the community – yes, even the criminal ones. We need to imbue our police with a social service mentality rather than a siege one. Of course there will be times when they must use force, but that should be the last resort, not the first – and for any cops who think otherwise, we must be willing to kick them out of our police forces.
Otherwise, we will continue to see the use of force escalate, until no matter how rich you are, how famous, how talented, how innocently standing still doing absolutely nothing wrong, we will be at risk of assault or death at any moment from a police force that thinks of us all as vermin. Black folk already know what that regime is like. Ask them what sort of quality of life it offers.
Tony is still looking for work, and could use help if you’ve got it to give. He just needs to raise $290 to make it through this month. If you’ve got a little to spare and would like to support his excellent blogging, you can donate here. If you’re in the market for mint-condition comics and DVDs, he’s also got an Ebay store where you can find some very sweet stuff. If you haven’t any filthy lucre to spare, signal boosting this request will help, too. Thank you, my darlings!