This nation was built on oppression and crossroads. We are now at a pendulum point in this nation where we have to decide if the few will rule to subdue the needs and concerns of the many they are charged to care for. None is more pressing than the interactions of law enforcement and people of color. In the first six months of the year, we have seen how the police have decided to forgo the corporate need for accountability. Instead, it seems the collective behavior is to favor the narrative which repeats or dictates their need for control, unquestioned and power, unchecked. At the refusal of this narrative, at the behest of the oppressed population for change, their cries are dismissed.
During the first half of 2018 , 511 people have been murdered by the police. Of those people, 18 of them have been unarmed. According to The Washington Post, we are warned not to be swayed by this data:
“Academics warn against over-interpreting the data relating to a decline of evidence of bias. The numbers are so small, they said, that even a few cases recorded in error could produce a different result.”
Although the data says unarmed police shootings are down, they keep happening. The most recent was Antwan Rose, Jr. in Pittsburgh by an officer who was sworn in hours before! I am not deceived by the data, and here is why.
In the wake of #BarbequeBecky, #PoolPatrolPaula, and #PermitPatty, we have to be able to realize this is a symptom of a greater issue. The issue at hand is two-fold: police brutality and lackadaisical attitude of the murder of people of color by police. One of the reasons for the uproar about the ‘protection’ of police is they function as an arm of white supremacy. The police, commanded by a fearful, MAGA empowered citizen, allows the life and safety of the people of color who are being called on just for being black and making non-black people nervous. In making the police a protected class, white supremacy is protected. The safety and power of whiteness is assured.
This is the Bingo game that law enforcement is playing with the lives of persons of color and black people. The spaces on this board for police shootings have these particular columns: Interaction, Altercation, Escalation, Declaration/Reaction. And with every Bingo game, there is a FREE SPACE. The Free Space allows you to get a leg up, an advantage, a privilege if you will. Allow you to win, as it were.
What is there to win, you ask? Oh, it’s freedom and the upholding of the myth that blackness — or non-whiteness — is to be supervised and when confronted with your whiteness is made uncomfortable, to win the game, you need only to make this declaration:
“I felt threatened and feared for my safety.”
Free Space covered!
However, at the outset, we see the activism galvanize to the point of fatigue: public sees the video (Interaction); public sees the police overreact to something minor (Altercation); we see the police often in real time become agitated believing control is being stripped or them feeling threatened (Escalation); the police use excessive/deadly force towards someone who posed no threat (Reaction); police are often acquitted because they are charged by the public to protect the public from anything assumed and declared a threat (Declaration); at the acquittal, we take over public spaces and make the hashtag a part of the living memorial of those killed by police violence (Free Space).
These incidents have happened so often we know what portion of the cycle we are in when we can measure the outrage, the level of increased distrust, and apathy from those who have nothing to free from the police, or the Iron Arm of law enforcement. This apathy from the elite is why those who are engaged in social change, forces for social justice, cannot afford to be silent. We can be tired, but we cannot quit. We can rest, we can organize, but we cannot quit. The murder of people of color, of black people, cannot be dismissed as a variation of data, of the ideal of comply or die, it cannot become normal, no matter how frequent the occurrences. The murder of unarmed citizenry must not become normal, or acceptable or negotiated through lucrative multi-million dollar settlements.
The game is ongoing. As long as law enforcement will not hold itself accountable, takes no stake in the community or people they are hired to serve, as long as murder is the answer to the minor, there will be resistance. Those in spheres of influence, justice and political change are paying attention, even for the sheer fact, they are indeed tired of hearing families cries, and the screams for justice. They will hear us. We are determined to be heard. We cover the Free Space by paying attention, being versed in the law and police tactics, civil disobedience and demands for accountability with the rule of law.
In short, we resist the narrative — the apathy — because they resist accountability. Both cannot coexist. Ergo, change must come — will come.
[Image via Washington Post/Wikipedia]