The killer four in Minneapolis: Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao. Screen capture CNN.
There is no such thing as “police brutality,” and when you repeat the term you are automatically limiting all the many legitimate grievances of which the police murder of an innocent unarmed African descendant in America is but one manifestation.
You also help perpetuate the myth. You are agreeing with the false narrative that it’s just a question of getting rid of brutal cops and all will be well–the so called “few bad apples” problem. Why would you buy into that narrative when you know it’s false, and purposefully misleading? Why would you let the power structure that allows the police crimes to continue to shape the narrative and coin the language?
This benefits those who want to maintain the status quo. Those who are forced to struggle for sociopolitical justice, accountability, and economic recompense must dictate the narrative. “Police brutality” implies that the officers act aberrantly when in fact we know this is not true. The killers of Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Patrick Dorismond, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Laquan McDonald, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland –had she not been stopped she would be alive– Philando Castile, Walter Scott, Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and so many others; were they acting aberrantly? Do these deaths sound like mere “police brutality”?
Would such deaths continue unabated if the wider European American population had risen up long ago? In truth the majority of European Americans must at least acquiesce, if not condone the actions, for such crimes to continue.
Suddenly we see police officers being fired and being charged with crimes after egregious killings of African descendants. Did mayors and police chiefs suddenly wake up and realize that this is the right thing which should have been done long ago? Where were they in all the cases I mention above?
Historically the killers of African descendants haven’t even been indicted or tried. In some cases of egregious killings they are assigned a desk job while continuing to draw their salaries. When they do end up in court, they appear before a judge in a bench “trial” and they are typically acquitted. Do you think this would happen if all those victims of the killer cops were European Americans?
There is no such thing as police brutality. These officers –as far as they know and the larger European American communities know–are enforcers of European American privileges in these United States. Privileges–and socio economic inequities–that are maintained at an increasingly higher cost. The police –and the establishments that condone criminality against African descendants– believe any means necessary are permissible when dealing with African descendants. How can they not believe so when a Darren Wilson isn’t tried for the firing-squad style execution of Michael Brown and Daniel Pantaleo for the lynchhold murder of Eric Garner?
The police are meant to keep African descendants in the United States “in their place.” This is something that is not meant to be said out loud, unless you’re Amy Cooper and can’t stand that a mere African descendant tells you to leash your dog in Central Park. Cooper let the secret out when she weaponized her Whitness against Christian Cooper, the “uppity” African descendant. She told him she was going to call the police and allege she was being threatened by an African American man (Black man), even though she knew it not to be true.
But what’s new? It’s an abuse of Whiteness that has manifest itself throughout this nation’s history, including when a European American, Carolyn Bryant, falsely accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of grabbing her by the waist. The boy was brutally murdered on August 28, 1955, and his eyes plucked out.
Amy Cooper’s confession was powerful–everybody knew that she didn’t speak for one woman in Central Park. She was spilling out the the not-veiled “secret” of all those who know that their Whiteness secures them advantages over African descendants in every arena–the schools, the job market, housing, healthcare, access to nutritious diet, the so-called criminal justice system, to name a few. Cooper told the world that Whiteness always prevails.
I truly believe that not as many European Americans would have joined the ongoing protests since the brutal murder of Floyd hadn’t Cooper spilled the beans. Many European Americans felt the need to rush to the frontlines to prove that, unlike Cooper, they aren’t secret abusers of Whiteness and the associated privileges. These include some of the captains of corporate America, whose companies have colllectively been donating hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations at the forefront in the fight for socisl justice for African descendants in America.
Yet, their actions–while welcome because a broad based coalition will have significant impact in transforming this country–also confirms their acquiescence, if not complicity, in the many past police crimes. Where were they when Pantaleo murdered Garner with his lynchhold? That extrajudicial execution was also captured on a cell phone camera and occured in front of civilian witnesses also urging the cop to spare Garner’s life.
In an eerie preview, Garner was the first to utter–multiple times in his case–the chilling words “I can’t breathe.” So if it’s not police brutality, then what is it? What is to be done? These are subjects I will address in part two of my Reflections on Race and Repression America.
(End of Part One)