Friday, December 12, 2014
Fearing for our safety...
I wanted to say something about the video I posted on Facebook and that I'm pasting here JUST in case you don't happen to know me. Those who do know me know I try to be constructive. I hate jumping on random bashing bandwagons and since the police are being called out for being trigger-happy with brown men--and rightly so--there's a couple things going on in that video that bear pointing out.
Firstly... if you, Mister "I don't understand "white privilege" because I've always been poor and don't feel privileged" or you Miss "But he had a record/was probably doing something wrong/shouldn't have been there" never understood what we as Brown people are telling you about our everyday interactions with the police, the video is a perfect example. A.) Dude had NO WAY OF KNOWING a ticket-writing exercise was still in process B.) He approached a car AFTER the cops had walked away and C.) he was WELL within his rights to ask what the ticket was for. If he had a car parked on that street for instance, and went to find out WHY there were tickets being issued so perhaps he could move his own car, I don't understand why that is a problem to the officer.
Secondly, you see how quickly a situation like that can escalate. If you ask a question of someone and they answer you belligerently for no apparent reason, your first response is usually to get pissed off pretty quickly because you feel you have been wronged. It's a natural human reaction (National Geographic TV has a show called "Brain Games". Episode 18, entitled "Anger" explains this very clearly. Go google it.)
Thirdly... these sorts of interactions are NOT ISOLATED INCIDENTS. I've had TWO such incidents in my life, and I'm a 5'3" female who doesn't think I'm threatening, at least not initially. In both cases I had to be dragged and silenced by a friend because I flared up and the friend didn't want the situation to escalate. Also, there was a long period of time in which I had to sit in the 49th precinct in the Bronx every other weekend, and the whole time that was happening there had been a few occasions I needed help, and the officers were assholes. For no good reason.
Fourthly... the gentleman recording backed off because he was more interested in documenting the encounter than standing up for himself, thereby de-escalating the encounter. But in another video circulating FB where a Euro skater dude was attacked by security guards (or policemen--it's unclear) and the Euro dude fought back and ran... any brown man watching that knows that if that were him things were very likely to go VERY differently.
Fifth: The video delivers a bonus at about the 7:00 minute mark, when a man who has double-parked his car returns... he is frisked, and the car is searched. The driver is extremely careful and quiet to avoid a confrontation, but truthfully there is no cause for the police to do this... no other police activity in the area, and earlier the police did not indicate that there was any ongoing investigation.
Lastly, the gentleman making the video notes that the police are in the Bronx. He comments that the cops are a Latino and a "European" (nice touch, bro) and says that we should be policed by our own community. But I'm not sure that's the answer either, because in one of my experiences with police in my own community, it was the brown cop that was the nastiest. Growing up on 125th street, where we looked forward to the springtime rookie copdrop, we stayed clear of the brown cops because we always felt they had more to prove. They didn't want to appear as being "soft" on the locals just because we were all brown. So while race is a factor in how brown people are treated by the police, in my opinion I don't think that race is a factor with the policeperson themselves. In other words... it seems like the minute you become an officer, you become indoctrinated to think that all brown people are threats regardless of your own color.
And while I don't think that policewomen are inherently nicer and more polite than policeMEN, most certainly the more pleasant of my experiences tend to be with women. So I do know it's possible for the police to be polite, courteous and calm.
The bottom line is... while brown and Indigenous people are more likely to be killed by police than other people in this country, and while people in this country have been unconsciously ingrained with the thought that brown people are more dangerous, the real problem is the police may as well be soldiers, and we are all automatically the enemy. Which is really ironic when you consider that America is quick to send in the military to "liberate" countries that treat it's citizens the way the police treat us.
And in case you thought this is isolated, here's another video:
And this is why we're angry.
P.S. If your comment, watching either of these videos is "did the officer have a warrant? The guy should have asked if the officer had a warrant to search his vehicle" congratulations... you just learned the definition of "white privilege". Brown people know you don't EVER refuse to be searched or insist on a warrant; that's a PRIVILEGE we don't have.