Rev. Pfleger, White Minister, Tells White America: Stop Fearing and Killing Black People


Rev. Pfleger joined with other ministers to demand arrest of cop who killed Roberson. Photo: CBS screenshot.

We need more White people like Rev. Michael Pfleger who speaks plain and doesn’t dance around the bush. In the wake of the killing of Jemel Roberson –the Black security guard who had been subduing a gunman– by a White cop, Rev. Pflegler declared what we all know; Roberson was shot because he was Black.

On the otherhand Midlothian, Illinois, Police Chief Daniel Delaney claimed the killing of 26-year-old Roberson was “the equivalent of a blue on blue friendly fire incident,” by Midlothian Police Chief Daniel Delaney.

Utter nonsense. Why don’t we ever hear of White cops shooting other White cops or security officers?

Roberson’s killing has all the hallmarks of the endless incidents of blue-on-Black killings; deaths of innocent Black people at the hands of White police officers. In Roberson’s case the authorities have yet to release the name of the suspect, the White officer. Why should this be kept a secret?

Roberson’s killing is just one of latest stories of the unfriendly, hostile, fire Black America is under by the institution of the police.

Why so such killings occur so frequently and throughout the country. Who believes such incidents that are so consistent can be mere accidents?

Rev. Pfleger, the anti-violence activist summed it best: “It was murder. It was not blue on blue crime, it was blue on Black crime.”

Roberson was killed in the aftermath of last week’s shooting at Manny’s Blue Room bar—as he was in the process of subduing, and possibly disarming, the shooter. Numerous witnesses have said they shouted to tell the responding officer Robertson was a security guard. Still, the officer, whose brain was locked on Roberson’s blackness, shot him dead.

Animus towards Blacks –either out of deep seated fear based on guilt for historical atrocities towards Black people, or racist resentment based on demonization of Blacks– surely plays a big role in these killings.

The officer was so consumed by instinctively assigning criminality to Roberson or he just didn’t care for the warnings witnesses said they shouted; this means bystanders also knew that Roberson –the “good guy”– could be shot.

Is it anything else, besides the fact that Roberson, as a Black man, fits the perceived police profile of the criminal—because of his Black skin?

Chief Delaney now admits Roberson was a “brave man doing his best to end an active shooter situation.” But in initial press briefings, Delaney never mentioned the fact that Roberson was the bar’s security guard. He touted the usual police line that Roberson was a gunman who didn’t obey commands, that other witnesses, including another security guard at the bar, Dorian Myrickes, didn’t hear.

This is likely because no such command was issued by the trigger-happy officer. Myrickes, who was also at the bar, and was shot in the shoulder, told the Associated Press, “I never heard the cop demand him to do anything, (but) everybody was telling him (Jemel) was security.” Myrickles also said, before Roberson was shot, he “could see Jemel had one guy face down, asking him to put his hands behind his back.”

Ironically, Roberson was killed by the institution that he had hopes of joining one day; the police department. Because of this fact, police realized it would be difficult to label him as just another “Black thug.”

This is why Delaney finally called Roberson “a brave man.” Police often insist that the public refrain from passing judgment on officers after questionable killings until all the facts emerge. Yet police are always fast to criminalize Black victims, as was the case with Roberson. Why didn’t Chief Delaney wait?

Because the modus operandi of police are to get ahead of media cycle. Criminalize Black people involved in deadly interaction with police; amend later if need be.

Concrete actions must be taken against racist policing. Black Americans have just elected a record number of Black attorney generals around the country. We must elect more, as well as judges—and hold them, including politicians, accountable for changing the corrupt racist nature of American policing, especially where Blacks live are concerned.

Police chiefs, and unions, now fighting necessary changes to policing, like the full implementation of body-cams, are not the only obstacles to change. A large segment of White America still feeds off the psychological need to hate Black Americans—and to exact violence upon us periodically.

While body-cams are not foolproof, they have helped score major victories against police criminality. The recent conviction of Laquan McDonald’s murderer, Jason Van Dyke of the Chicago Police department; and the 20-year prison sentence of Michael Slager, the murderer of Black Coast Guard veteran Walter Scott in S. Carolina; are important cases to consider.

Both cases show body-cam legislation; and other means of recording police interactions with the public, have an important part to play in holding police accountable to the law they say they’re enforcing.

As we pressure politicians for body-camera legislation, we must all now become documentarians of cop criminality. Black people must be ready, at a moment’s notice, to record police misbehavior.

Black motorists must also think seriously about equipping their cars with video technology—that can record the actions of cops, who pull them over. Tamper-proof technology that allows recordings to be sent out immediately over the Internet is preferable. In the McDonald case, we know Chicago Police were accused of erasing portions of a tape from a nearby Burger King, in an apparent effort to save Van Dyke.

But it was the concealed police video that ultimately sent Van Dyke to prison, where he belongs.

Some White police officers clearly join the police to do violence to Black people, through the legal cover of being officers of the law? How many police departments evaluate recruits on their attitudes toward race matters?

Across America, police departments have always profiled African-Americans as the primary predatory societal menaces to society. That demonization has dehumanized Blacks in the minds of many Whites. The media has played a major role in disseminating that falsely racist character assassination of African-Americans as predicate criminals.

In the last few years, corporate media coverage of racist policing has diminished. But the police violence against Black communities hasn’t. What message does the media’s disinterest here tell us about the political priority of Black American lives?

Too often, it takes a high-profile killing to get any coverage at all from mainstream media. White media outlets project a false air of “objectivity,” which is always exposed by the fact that police brutality don’t receive adequate coverage.

Rev. Pfleger speaks truth to power when he says, “Jemel Roberson is dead for no other reason than doing his job, protecting people. Let’s not ignore the elephant in the room. The problem with Jemel is he was Black, and this mystery officer needs to be fired.”

Pfleger –and hopefully more White people will heed his clarion call– also said, “As a White person, I say to White society, it’s time to stop fearing the Black man, and treat him like you treat your own brothers and sisters.”

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