I feel compelled to write about murdering black men. Even is really no point in this conversation, as you have made up your mind, and I have made up mine. The list of black men being murdered over the past decade does not seem to be random at all. Especially when they are killed by policemen.
I saw a dead young boy laying on the street many years ago. According to the news he was fourteen. When the boy’s mother showed up, she fell on her son, sobbing, crying he was a good boy, he was her son and he was not a gang member. My heart went out for the mother. What was truly sad was the boys hat, t-shirt, and do rag hanging out of his back pocket told another story.
He was his mother’s son, and he was a good boy. He was good with his brother and sister. He treated his parents, aunts and uncles with respect. He was also a gang member. He chose to wear his colors at an intersection where two gang boundaries meet.
He was a good boy, he was of the opinion as all young boys that the rules of life did not apply to him, and being killed is something that happens to other people.
A few months before Rodney King was beaten, I had a co-worker with whom I worked closely together a little over two years. One day he said to me that we not only worked together, but we are close friends. I agreed. He then told me, “You know, when we are alone, you don’t have to call me by name, you can call me, Nigger. Don’t call me that when my friends are around though because they won’t understand, and they will want to fight with you.”
I felt like I ran into a brick wall. I was being allowed into some secret society privilege I was unaware existed. That word had not left my mouth since I was about eight, and a black boy a few years older than me told me what a bad word it was, when he heard me use it. I told him I was sorry, and I would not use it again. I kep my word all through the years.
I grew up in a rural area in Minnesota. If racism existed, I was not aware of it. I never heard the words people use to label other people to make them something less. We had three or four black boys in our school over the years. Total population of our school kindergarten to graduation was a less than one-thousand kids. Pretty small by todays standards.
I tried to be friends with these new arrivals, as they were new to our little town and did not have any friends. I was a one boy welcome wagon, I suppose. Two of the boys were friendly and one was not. I never thought much of it. That’s how we are.
My mother and her sister worked as maids at a hotel for a few years during my grade school life. She and my aunt would talk with other adults about odd things they found in the rooms that should not have been there.
It was a pretty divided conversation. In white mens rooms they would sometimes find beer or booze in the toilet tanks. They clinked as they cleaned and flushed the toilets. In the rooms of black men when making the beds, they occasionally found a knife or pistol placed between the mattresses. The discovered knives and guns were frequent and scared them. When people checked out, they usually left the beer or liquor out for the maids.
They never found a left behind knife or pistol. I was naive as I mentioned, and did not understand that there was/is a difference in the thinking of black men and white men. Which brings me back to murdering black men.
In some circles brain viruses are thought to be present in the population. Brain viruses seem to be ideas that are accepted as the norm, and certain people start believing them, accepting them as fact. I am sure you and I have been subject to brain viruses from time to time. Brain viruses are hard to shake off, as it means stepping out from the herd.
Here in Albuquerque we have a murder by police rate so high the federal government has stepped in to investigate. In some cases the police have been found in the wrong, especially when it comes to dealing with someone who is mentally deficient. They have gone overboard in their response.
We also have cases where policemen have been murdered with their guns still in their holsters. If they were reaching to pull their guns to defend themselves they never made it. It’s tough being a police officer, I would not want to do their job and wonder if ever time they respond, this will be the time they will be forced to make a life or death decision. You know they won’t decide to let themselves be killed.
I do not walk down the middle of the street, blatantly ignoring local law, and disrespecting people driving. At least I do not do things like this intentionally.
Behavior like this serves no purpose. It would put me in in harms way. I have no need to talk back to the police, challenge their authority, or make them question their safety.
During the execution of their duty, for the most part Police officers have been more than civil, and respectful to me. For the two times when I felt I was being singled out, and treated with less than equal respect, I have let it go until the next day.
I did not feel the middle of a police encounter was the time to make an issue of the situation. As already the encounter was too serious for the occasion. The next day however, I have contacted, the mayor, chief of police, and the commander in charge of the area where the incident occurred, expressing my feelings and concerns about how I was treated.
I never felt the need to challenge an officer’s authority when he/she stopped me, saw a need to be belligerent, or otherwise complicate the situation. Taking those actions would only make things worse for me, and certainly more physically dangerous.
Maybe the way I act when challenged by police is a brain virus too. Maybe it is common sense, and my will to survive, directing the way I act. All I know is the man confronting me has a gun, and if he were to feel he needs to shoot me because I present a real or imagined threat to his/her safety and well being, I will not be around to tell my side of the story if I am shot.
There are bad police who are looking to shoot someone, no one denies this. There are also right and wrong ways to conduct yourself when confronted by police. Escalating the situation with poor choices is not protecting your person from bodily harm.
It may be simplistic, but if you want to be a tough guy, join the Marines, and ask to be sent to the middle east. There are a number of tough guys waiting for you and they are more than happy to dance with you.
When I have been stopped by the police anywhere across the country, I listen to their direction and try to follow it as closely as I am able. Only once have I had a police pistol pointed at my direction. The police were looking for a car involved in a shooting and robbery that looked just like mine. Once it was understood a mistake had been made, the police officer did not apologize. Thankfully he calmed down when he realized I wasn’t the person(s) he was looking for. No harm, no foul. Glad I am not him.
If you do find yourself with a policeman’s weapon aimed at you, drop your pride and emotions, and listen very carefully. You can take up whatever wrongs done to you later, or tomorrow when you are out of your situation.
When you run with a rough crowd, expect rough play. If you want to be a gangster do not expect people, except maybe your family to like you. If you feel the police are out to get you, you may be right. Be smart. Do not give anyone a reason to make a mistake that costs you your life.