[Book Excerpt: “The Roots of Racism in American Policing”]
Benjamin: “Police represent a domestic terrorist organization that is sanctioned by America’s white political structure to control Black people.”
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor: just a few of the latest victims of American racism and policing.
Author’s note: For several weeks before the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, I published several excerpts from my forthcoming book “The Roots of Racism in American Policing: From Slave Patrols to Stop and Frisk.” Because of the seriousness of COVID-19, I suspend publishing of these excerpts. Unfortunately, racist killer-cops have shown they had no intention of suspending their murderous actions against our people even during a global pandemic.
Because of the recent murders of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, I will recommence the publishing of excerpts from my book.
The following is from the book’s preface:
Over the last several years, especially since the killings of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014, in Staten Island, New York; and that of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri; the everyday brutality Black America receives at the hands of police has been nakedly exposed for the world to see. In the weeks and months after the deaths of Garner and Brown, we witnessed an ongoing orgy of unjustified killings and murders of Black men, and women, perpetrated by police. The ubiquity of video and cellphone technology revealed outrage after outrage. That trend continues with the recent police murders of Rayshard Brooks, on June 12, 2020; George Floyd, on May 25, 2020; Breonna Taylor on March 13, 2020; and Ahmaud Arbery, on February 23, 2020. In previous years, we saw police murders like that of 26-year-old St. Lucian native Botham Jean, on September 6, 2018, in Dallas, Texas; and the killing of 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson October 12, 2019. Both Jean and Jefferson–like Breonna Taylor–were killed inside their homes.
Racist American policing brutalizes all types of Black people—not just those characterized as “criminals” and “thugs.” We’ve seen well-to-do and rich Black Americans being harassed like everyone else. We should remember when Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates was manhandled and arrested by police on July 16, 2009, at his Cambridge, Massachusetts home after someone thought Dr. Gates must be a burglar and couldn’t really live in such an affluent neighborhood. Comedian Chris Rock has also complained about being profiled several times as he was driving while Black. And, on August 26, 2017, Seattle Seahawks football star Michael Bennett (who everyone agrees is the kind of role model for kids to emulate) had a gun pulled on him, by an Arizona policeman, while he was face down on the ground. According to Bennett, the officer told him if he moved, he would “blow my fucking head off.”
From Black men and women, to Black boys and girls, old and young, none are immune from the viciousness of white America’s institution of racial policing.
The “bad apples” argument police apologists parrot, to excuse police barbarisms, that are primarily perpetrated on Black folk, have been debunked by the sheer regular frequency of these atrocities. The real truth, as it relates to Black Americans, is that: the police represent a domestic terrorist organization that is sanctioned by America’s white political structure to control Black people. This has always been so.
Black Americans must realize that anything good done by police to Blacks, in Black communities, is merely incidental or accidental. Good deeds by police towards us are anomalies that happen primarily because of the conscience and humanity of some cops—and not because of America’s institution of policing. Police are not there to “protect and serve” Blacks. There are there to oppress us. This is why police who brazenly kill, and murder Blacks, are protected by this racist system. This is why there is a “Blue Wall of Silence,” which facilitates the cover-up culture of cop corruption and allows for its continuance. Why don’t more “good” cops speak out and expose the bigots, brutes, and killers amongst them?
When some cops try to do the right thing by speaking out, they are called “rats” and “snitches” and are ostracized, like former NYPD Officer Adrian Schoolcraft and NYPD Officer Adhyl Polanco. Some, like former NYPD Detective Frank Serpico, nearly lost his life (on February 3, 1971—in Brooklyn) after he was left without backup as he tried to arrest an armed suspect, who shot him in the face. This was done because Serpico dared to speak out against the corruption he saw in the NYPD. Even worse, with a wink-and-nod, bigoted police behavior is blessed by corrupt, often grandstanding, American politicians and those in the American court system. Indeed, they assist the abuses of their police partners in crime and are complicit in their atrocities against African-Americans.
Why does the white American political system permit police to treat Black people this way?
Well, some will say, or insinuate, that Black Americans commit an inordinate amount of the “crime” in America. Indeed, former Secretary of Education William Bennett, who served under President Ronald Reagan, once opined on his radio show, that “If you wanted to reduce crime, you could—if that were the sole purpose—you could abort every Black baby in this country and the crime rate would go down.” No doubt, many White Americans, and even some Black Americans, have been indoctrinated into this warped racist view of “crime” as it relates to Blacks, and believe it.
But we must remember this: white America has always demonized and criminalized those they have wronged and exploited.
Native-Americans were called “savages” and portrayed despicably in Hollywood Western movies (with racist frauds like John Wayne often playing the role of the valiant white savior) to justify the genocidal actions—and the land-theft of white-Europeans. Similar methods, like the American minstrel tradition, where white actors wore “blackface,” we’re used to denigrate African-Americans. D.W Griffiths’ 1915 silent film “Birth of a Nation” did much to criminalize African-Americans in the minds of whites. One of the film’s main charge is portraying Black men as the serial rapists of white women. The historical records show us that white men are, in fact, the main serial rapists in American society—who got plenty of practice raping Black women over the centuries. President Woodrow Wilson, one of America’s most racist presidents, gave a viewing of this contemptible piece of propaganda in the White House. Reportedly, (some contest this) he said, of this character assassination movie, “It is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.”
In terms of the contemporary criminalization of Blacks by white America, we must understand this: the statistics these folks use to justify the bogus claim, that Blacks commit more crime, is largely manufactured and manipulated to create the desired results. Dr. Amos Wilson, in his book “Black-on-Black Violence: The Psychodynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination,” pointed out that these “crime statistics are used to create the false and scandalous impression that African-Americans have some sort of monopoly on crime and are ‘inherently’ more criminal than are white Americans.” Over the years, we’ve heard much talk about Black-on-Black crime. This malicious characterization seeks to give the deceitful impression that Blacks commit crimes against Blacks at higher rates than other racial groups do against their own. Of course, this is false stereotyping—and is an example of the racist mindset of those who have always criminalized Blacks, by finding devious ways to promote prejudice.
Relevant statistics show us that crime, in America, happens, largely, within the particular racial group. The segregated nature of American society has much to do with this reality. Some also like to insinuate that Black-Americans are prone to attacking White-Americans at high rates, a claim white supremacist killer Dylann Roof (who murdered 9 Black parishioners on June 17, 2015, in South Carolina) made. However, the reverse is true: Blacks are more likely to be the target of vicious racist attacks by Whites. From the days of Slavery, to the days when KKK nightriders went around lynching Blacks, thru the Jim Crow Era, to the present where police murder us with impunity in 21st Century America, Whites have always had an obsessive penchant for shedding Black blood. Indeed, murdering Black people was a rites-of-passage for many White men and boys. Utilizing the cover of a police officer makes this easier to do. Today, we now have other traditionally non-white people deciding they too can arbitrarily kill Black people. Such was the case when wannabe cop, George Zimmerman, killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, in Florida.