[Editor’s Note: I had a post in mind but in light of recent events, I really have nothing to say. Maybe later this week. So, I went back to tweaked an old post… RIP Alton Sterling]
So it was about 5 years ago, I had just moved into my first apartment. I got up went to work and when I got home there was note on the door by a neighbor, “the cops stopped by looking for you”. My reaction, well, now this is odd. They had also left a voicemail on my home phone saying they needed me to come by the station. Total, help me sing. I go to the station, wondering every bad decision I’ve made in the past year and wondering who got some bail money, if necessary. I just moved here, I’m a law abiding citizen, what could they possibly have to say. I get there and…..they were just returning my wallet. I had lost it weeks ago, already went through the arduous task of replacing everything in it and just when I made peace with the fact that it was lost in the sauce lost in the game…here it was. Won’t He do it. I had a talk with a few officers, talking about how I just moved out here, sights and sounds stuff like that. They recommended a bunch of places that I probably would never set foot in, and then I was on my way. Over the years, I would get familiar with the cops of the town, they walked the streets regularly, most lived in the town, whether I was in a suit or baggy camo shorts and a fitted; they waved, made meaningless small talk and essentially, treated me like a neighbor.
It was a whole new dynamic I wasn’t used to. Prior to this point, I’ve been falsely arrested twice, weapons drawn on me, followed home, stopped and frisked on my own porch, called bitch, nigger, punk and thug, witnessed a family member being assaulted, knock on wood the only thing that hasn’t happened yet is someone I knew personally being killed. (So you see why I may have been anxious about going to the station in the opening). Of course, this was in my old neighborhood, where I was still for the most part a good kid. The cops there maybe lived in the neighborhood, they didn’t know me by name which was ironic because I was getting frisked and name ran 3 times a day. Me and my friends would take alternate routes home, keep our bookbags on so they would believe we were actually students, we would split up into separate groups of 2-3 because a large group of us together was just asking for it. It was almost like having a playground bully except you couldn’t stand up to him, you just learned to stay out the way. It wasn’t even worth explaining to our parents, hell, people have gotten hauled off for “disturbing the peace” just for defending us.
For what its worth, I do respect law enforcement and the thankless job they have. However, recent events has really made me reflect on my personal experiences with the boys in blue; which as you can see were two very different ones. The glaring difference being the connection between officers and community they are serving. In my old hood, we were treated as the enemy, to the point our mere presence was enough to drive them mad. Their job wasn’t to serve, it was to eliminate, we weren’t allowed on these streets anymore and they made sure we got the message. [These days the old neighborhood has got a face lift, a lot people have moved because of rising rent and the old park has been remodeled and named in honor of one of the lone white residents (who is actually a close family friend, so no shade or whatever). Funny how that worked out. Shoutout that G’Cation, I’m sure the corner store will become a Starbucks one day.]
So what happens public servants are treated as guard dogs instead of part of the community they are supposed to be a part of? Well, this does. A cop familiar with his community could’ve told Eric Garner or Alton Sterling to cut the shit and go home, Tamir Rice to not flash his toy in public, Mike Brown and his friend to get out of the street. Instead, they just saw targets, saw “the enemy” and acted accordingly. So as the President on down asks, how can the police improve relations with people of color, it starts by establishing one period. It starts with humanizing everyone and not thinking every brown person is The Incredible Hulk. It shouldn’t be my job to make person who swore to protect me feel safe. I shouldn’t have to pull my pants up, wear my cap forward and grin ear to ear just to be viewed as an equal. In the same way I don’t view every cop as the same one who choke slammed me in that pizzeria, every cop shouldn’t view me or anyone else as a “demon”. That doesn’t start with video cameras and fashion, it starts with empathy, acceptance and community. Until police officers, truly love and accept all civilians, sadly I expect more of the same. Living in a reality where myself and anyone I love being one bullet away from becoming a hashtag.