Slave Patrol’s Legacy — Modern Day Policing


Darren Wilson gunned down Michael Brown like he was a runaway slave in Ferguson, MO., and in New York Daniel Pantaleo treated Eric Garner in the same manner –using his arm to lynch him


Someone, please explain it to me: why do the police hate African people so much that they shoot us down in the streets like dogs?

Amadou Diallo shot down like a dog in the lobby of the apartment building where he lived in the Bronx.  Ten year old Clifford Glover, shot down like a dog in the street by police officer Thomas Shea. And as they say, the devil is in the detail; well check out a couple of the details. It was revealed in local New York newspapers that Glover’s dad overheard the gunman pursuing them to holler “You Black son of a bitches”!

Then shortly after the killing the NYPD radio dispatcher picked up the voice of officer Scott, Shea’s partner, saying “Die you little bastard.” As it was in the case of Amadou Diallo, 10 year old Clifford Glover was unarmed and committing no crime at the time the police officer Thomas Shea murdered him. 

These police killings of unarmed African men and boys are not isolated incidents.  Some cases on file now include: Kenroy Burkes, Keshawn Watson, Sean Bell, Patrick Dorismond, Osmane Zongo, Timothy Stansbury and so many others that the list is seemingly endless.

This historical record in evidence that demonstrate that many police departments, including the NYPD, must have a plan afoot to murder African people.  In a much broader sense, nationally, police departments in the United States are carrying out the identical plan. All these African men were killed while committing no crimes and were unarmed; they were killed by white men employed as police officers.

If the killing of African men and boys wasn’t enough these White men on the various police forces of these United States of America are also guilty of gunning down, like dogs, African women.

Take the example of Eleanor Bumpers, a 71 year old elderly African woman who had her apartment door kicked in by big burley helmeted “S.W.A.T.” members armed to the teeth, shot-gunned to death. What was her crime? Being late with the rent.

And there is Yvonne Smallwood, 7 year old Aiyana Stanley-Jones killed by the Detroit P.D., 17 year old Darnesha Harris, mentally ill- Shereese Francis, suspected of shoplifting. The NYPD shot her to death in front of kids.  Shantel Davis was killed in a car chase by the NYPD. 

On the web site “Bougie Black Girl” there is a list of at least 30 other names of African women killed by police, – (Google: Bougie Black Girl – Black women and girls killed by the police), the White man vigilante a.k.a. “ slave patrol”.

Witness the brutal violence of the police  depicted in the assault perpetrated upon the family of Ramarley Graham as they were forced to watch the police kill (some of us call it murder) 18 year old Ramarley as he sought shelter and sanctuary in the bathroom of his home.

Leading up to that point in time, young Graham, unarmed, frightened and intimidated by the police, took off running for safety.  He was running home.  Finally, making his way home he made a bee- line to the bathroom. He was hotly pursued by police officers. One White officer proceeded to kick in the bathroom door and shot Graham down like a dog, killing him in his bathroom in front of his family, which included young children.

So “Why do they hate us so that they shoot us down like dogs?”

This was a question posed to me by a friend as we were watching the talking heads on the boobe tube jawjacking about the latest incidents of police killings of unarmed Africans, one in Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown was shot multiple time and another in Staten Island, New York City, where Eric Garner was choked to death. The talking heads were talking about loosies – the selling individual cigarettes on the street.  They were asking questions like why was he walking in the middle of the road? Why was he wearing a hoodie in the middle of the night?

These questions of the talking heads are not the questions in the African community — the hood.  In the “Hood” the conversation is more like:  “The police is killing you”, and the only pertinent question for us is: “What are you gonna do?”

That initial question and my off the cuff reply gave me cause to pause and ponder more deeply the question and my reply: “They hate us because we are Africans.”

I have since come to see the depth of this question of my good friend and the shallowness of my reply.   I have come to see the question as a reflexion of the mindset of a large segment of the African community who are, quite frankly, dumbfounded by this White supremacist society’s behavior. 

Because, after all have we not done all the things “White folks” have said we need to do to make it in the United States of America?  As we move on through this essay it should be understood that not all of us Africans are dumbfounded White-supremacy.

No, not at all; some of us we get it, we are at war!

Not to digress, this question has within it a people’s collective analysis of 500 years or more of its history.  A history encompassing abductions, rebellions, “the Middle Passage”, rebellions, enslavement, rebellions, Jim Crow, rebellions, integration, rebellions, White vigilante policing and all that it entails and we yet still continued on with the legacy of rebellion.

So, any reply to this question on the table must also have within it a people’s collective analysis of this history of 500 years of White-supremacy’s brutal repressive oppression of Africans, and that 500 year old history of rebellion must therein be included; because neither is complete without the other.

In this most humble attempt to bring some clarity to this question my limited research has taken me to the internet, electronic media telecast, printed media and two insightful publications: “SLAVE PATROLS” – Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas by Sally E. Hadden and “The Counter-Revolution of 1776” – Slave resistance and the origins of the United States of America by GERALD HORNE.

The African and the United States legal authority (the police) have had a long history, and generally speaking it’s been all bad.

The recent killings of African males serve as but an example of murderous police violent continuation of this long and brutal history. From militias, slave patrols- White male vigilantes- to local and state police forces, the brutally repressive oppression of Africans continue with no end in sight; unless. 

In the late 1600s European plantation owners, settlers, in the Caribbean who were outnumbered, in some cases 10 to 1, and quite literally frightened to death by the numerous and incessant uprisings by rebellious enslaved Africans, devised a system of monitoring their movement and behavior.

This system, known as “slave patrols”, was used to put down African revolts and to hunt down and punish rebellious Africans as Sally Hadden shows in her book SLAVE PATROLS.

An important note to remember is that the slave patrol came about in response to the White man’s fear of of the oppressed African peoples one day rising up and killing them and taking over the land. Those White males hired to be “patrollers” were scared as hell of not returning home after spending a period of time on slave patrol duty.

I would dare say that the police of today have the same fear coursing through their veins. Coupled with a White supremacist attitude, which is part and parcel of the mindset of seeing oneself as “White”, is a culture that automatically brings with it a hatred of “Black People”.

Today these militia forces of White men, officially called police forces, span from New York to Florida, from New Jersey to California; and all those states which lie between the spans.

Even to this day in the year 2015, the slave patrols, or police forces’, duty is still to monitor the movement and behavior of the African. Under modern day circumstances though, their duty is also to monitor movement and behavior of other non-White people as well. Witness White men vigilantes at borders, armed to the teeth, hunting down and sometimes shooting and killing Mexican men, women and children as they cross over from Mexico to Mexico (the United States).  

I would like for us to see the question of “why do they hate us so” as one being posed by an individual interested in plotting a course of action necessary to successfully move out of an oppressive condition into one which is liberating.

Is this fanciful, wishful thinking on my part?  I hope not.

So the reply must be one based in a historical material and political analysis; an analysis which speaks to past and present historical and political realities and identify similarities.

To give clarity to this question it is important to point out internationally where other people who have suffered under similar forces of and analyze actions taken to end the repression. Being ever mindful that one size don’t fit all, but understanding that time, place and condition holds within the treasure of “What is to be done.”

 From Ferguson to Staten Island, from Harlem to Watts, from Bed-Stuy to Newark, the discussions going on in African communities is not about the selling or not of loosies.  It’s not about “why was he walking down the middle of the street”? The discussion in the African community is not “why didn’t he just turn the music down”? 

There are no such questions in the Black community.

In our communities there are more pressing matters, and they are glaringly loud and clear and being raised, “The police is killing you, what are you gonna do!?”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *