Why We Say #%& Da Police
“Get your fucking hands up now!” They surrounded the car, pointing their automatic assault rifles at the four of us sitting in a 1989 Mercedes-Benz. “Get outta da fuckin’ out the car!” “Where are the drugs?” The men thoroughly destroyed the inside interior of the vehicle. This was Memorial Day Weekend 2012, and it was the third time that year Chicago Police had pulled me over.
At that point, even with guns drawn, I snapped at the officers for their actions and risked being arrested or also shot, to my brother and his friend’s dismay. I think the only thing that saved me that night was stating my military veteran status and being an employee at Chicago Public Schools. My frustration with the cops had reached a boiling point that night.
Black Lives Always Matter
I was lucky, however. There are many countless others who did not survive their encounters with the police. Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Tyree King, Rekia Boyd, Stephan Clark, Laquan McDonald, and Mike Brown are just a few names of individuals who did not live to tell their tales about their run-in with the authorities. According to a USA Today 2014 article titled “Local Police Involved in 400 Killings Per Year,” “Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012.” This is astounding, and not surprising even in the year 2016. Even in the wake everything that has happened recently, the media has not been on the side of those victims. In fact, the media has worked overtime to vilify black people killed by the police or vigilantes over the past few years. Trayvon Martin was called a ‘thug’ and criminal, and Sandra Bland’s drug use and “so-called” criminal background came into question after her death. Some fellow citizens chose to co-sign these half-truths by stating “if so-and-so had followed the officers’ orders they would still be alive.” It seems that black communities are under attack, and we’re left on all our own.
Black people must be wise about our encounters with law enforcement. In the 1960s, poor black communities in Oakland, CA armed themselves to protect their community and themselves from police brutality. This led to the rise of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and in the South, black religious figures created the Deacons for Defense. In 2014, we had the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. Black people are not helpless; we can actively resist police harassment. Social media, community organizing, building real alliances, and educating each other about these issues will create positive change. In 2011, when I was arrested for participating in an Occupy Chicago protest, I made sure to call a family member to let them know what was happening. When encountering law enforcement black people must be wary, vigilant, and use common sense. I am one of the lucky ones to survive that summer night in 2012. For countless others, that was not the case. Only a unified front will ensure that the system of white supremacy (through which the police act as the right hand of the oppressor) is dismantled and police brutality eliminated. We must use new technology and consciousness-raising to fight the good fight. We also need to learn from the past and see what mistakes our forefathers made.
Police State in Trump’s America
In 2016, police unions willingly gave their ringing endorsement to Donald Trump during the presidential campaign. This is the same sentiment I witnessed in a while serving in the armed forces, the theory is that Republicans are far more friendly to law enforcement and military. History proves that both U.S. political parties have offered consistent support law enforcement and military. Now as President, Trump has unveiled his plan for the black community. He’s been obsessed with Chicago, calling it a war zone and ‘terrible‘ since the campaign trail. He often cited that cops are under attack in the ongoing “War on Police.” But numbers from 2016 paint a far different picture. Deaths of police officers clocked in at 135, but civilians killed by police officers show that 963 civilians were killed in 2016.
The day of Trump’s election private prison stocks went through the roof. The president has threatened to send federal troops to Chicago, activated mass deportations undocumented people’s, and is now planning to target recreational marijuana users, despite the plant being legal in multiple states. Trump’s answer to poverty, lack of jobs, poor education, and crime in the black community will be more police and more punitive laws. The openly corporate controlled-owed Trump presidential administration will be the biggest boom in the New Jim Crow since President Bill Clinton. The struggle does continue, and the black community needs to prepare ourselves for the oncoming onslaught. Because in today’s America, it’s apparently illegal for black people to wait for a friend at Starbucks.