As the days go by, it’s become commonplace to see something in the news cycle regarding a police shooting. Whether it be Ferguson, Baltimore, or Charlotte, there’s a definite shift in trust from the general public in regards to law enforcement.
First, please note that I’m not suggesting that this is based on race. Although I do believe that the media does fixate on minorities being killed by police, I also believe that police often abuse their authority and oppress those they are meant to serve and protect. While we may here stories like those of Tamir Rice, who was shot by an officer previously ruled as being unfit for duty, we often don’t hear about how small town politics can turn a public police force into private security for the affluent in a community. Coincidentally, those typically in affluent communities are often white.
There’s a town in Tennessee where actions such as these are commonplace. During my time in Pulaski, the birthplace of the KKK, I found myself at odds with police many times. When I first arrived, I picketed First National Bank, the controlling financial entity of the area, due to their unethical and illegal treatment of my then-girlfriend and myself. I had discovered that on Carol’s account, she had been charged fees that the bank claimed they didn’t charge for. When I showed them the statements suggesting they were lying, we were dismissed and refused service.
My picket was one person strong (me), and there was nothing that could be interpreted as vulgar or disturbing the peace. However, the bank felt the need to call the police. Given the nature of the complaint, you’d think that maybe two cops would be needed at the most. At least five of them showed, one of which assaulted me by chest bumping me into the road, nearly causing me to break my ankle. When I attempted to file a complaint related to the incident, I was told that the officer whose picture I pointed to was deceased. Given that I had literally just seen the officer, it became apparent that they were not going to see justice was served correctly.
In the same town, a black doctor was speeding through the main road of town on her way to deliver a baby. She was pulled over by a white police officer. When the officer confronted her, she explained why she was speeding and that she didn’t have time to give the officer her license. She then took off, forcing the officer to chase her to the hospital. Once they arrived, he arrested her as she was walking in.
That particular incident was well publicized, and the officer in question was suspended, but not fired. The doctor then sued for racial discrimination, even after comments suggesting she didn’t believe racial bias took place. The officer was later fired for an unrelated incident that involved assault (based from the stories I’ve heard, which could be completely false) and relocated to a different police unit in Murfreesboro.
John Oliver recently did a segment related to officers who move from police department to police department due to disciplinary action that took place or was about to due to poor decisions made by officers, one of which showing that an officer in Florida shot and killed someone white still being investigated for another shooting!
I’ve known a lot of cops in my life. I grew up to one named Bob Morgan in my hometown. To this day, I use him as an example of what all cops should emulate themselves to be. The man put his life on the line every day, never once used force when not needed, always considered the circumstances behind every situation he found himself in, and was genuinely a nice man. But unfortunately for him, he seems to be in the minority these days.
Are we as a society responsible for this? Possibly.
There’s nothing new about police acting beyond their authority. One of the earliest memories I have is of the Rodney King scandal. We were incredibly tuned in at the time, wondering how it would all turn out. But has anything really changed in the last twenty-plus years since this happened? There are a lot of people who would maintain it has gotten worse. I simply believe that people are finally able to catch on more easily due to the Internet and the advent of cell phones, thereby casting more and more police officers in negative lighting.
Look, some of you assholes hold the clerk at McDonald’s to a higher standard than you hold law enforcement. If that bucktoothed girl behind the counter forgets to ring your burger up without pickles, you will holler and swear over it, demanding your money back. But is there an outcry from you that loudly (and obnoxiously) when the cops shoot an unarmed man? For most of you whities, the answer is no.
Is it race, though? Recently, we saw a black officer shoot a black man and didn’t know what to make of it. Those of the Black Lives Matter mentality conveniently forget that the officer was black. But given the difference between the officer and victim on a socioeconomic level, it wouldn’t really matter. Poor people are all thugs, addicts, and crazy people to them. And because we poor people are always suspected of everything, we can no longer trust the police to serve and protect us when we need it, thereby making our lives even more dangerous.
You may say whatever you want related to race relations between the police and the public. The truth is that the police are only serving those with the money, and for us poor people, we’re all the same color to them. In their minds, the poor people cause all the crime, and we will always be subject to immediate suspicion.