When you are attacked or robbed, the first thing you do is call the police. It is ingrained in people to dial 911 in the States or this country 10111. You know when you call for the police they will come and assist you or protect you from criminals. But what happens in the instance when you are black or brown, and you have come to fear the police?
How do you trust someone that has been tasked to protect and serve but instead harms you? The police do not have a good history with black and brown people. We have been taught from the time we could barely walk that police are dangerous, that they harm you and they can and often do kill you.
How does one reconcile with the images of police officers portrayed as the good guys in series such as NYPD blues or Chicago PD, yet in life they are both protectors and killers? Who are the “good cops” in this instance because they all wear the same uniform so, how do we tell the difference?
We can’t! Calling the police or having them approach you; while a sense of relief flows through the white person, anxiety, and dread flows through every inch of the black or brown persons’ body. Thoughts of death flit through our minds and the closer they get to us, the more visible the person in a uniform becomes, the more prayers are being said, in the hope that the police invading our intimate spaces are going to help instead of harm us.
Policing is no longer seen as a community service but as people who can snuff out your life in the blink of an eye. The good or bad cop appears depending on the day the police officer had. It often feels like a raffle you unwittingly entered into! Did they argue with their spouse, or fight with someone who wanted to kill them, and if they did will they see you as the enemy from the moment they set eyes on you?
We have seen on social media, grandmothers being tossed to the ground and handcuffed, people being choked out and dying, people with disabilities being punched in the face and kicked about and have heard of women being sexually assaulted by those that meant to protect us.
Ordinary people have become the enemy of an officer that can kill you if you so much as look at them for too long or pose a question they may take offence to. What is it about an ordinary person that wakes up in the morning to get dressed for work that becomes a feared monster the moment the uniform is buttoned up and the gun holstered?
Yes! We are besieged by criminals, and police officers are being murdered, but they’re not being murdered by law-abiding citizens. They are not being attacked by little children playing out in the street.
Police officers, as far as we can ascertain, are trained to use force when there is resistance or when they feel their lives are in danger. How often do police officers get killed when someone is calmly enjoying a beer in their garden like Collins Khosa or when someone is walking home from the shop? How do they justify stopping you for a broken tail light or failure to signal and murder you when you do stop?
While I understand that not all police officers are violent, brutal, racist sadists, can someone point out the ones that are so they can be avoided at all costs? So black and brown law-abiding citizens can change hastily make a detour to ensure that they don’t get harassed, assaulted, or murdered.
With the constant brutalization of black and brown people, I fear that only criminals will remain as innocent people are being snuffed out by those tasked to protect and serve the community but instead seem hell-bent on a mission to protect and kill.