The Common Good


When Terror Wears a Badge

Sojomail - August 14, 2014

GUEST COMMENTARY: When Terror Wears a Badge

by Ryan Herring

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Over the past three weeks there have been four separate incidents that have led to the deaths of four unarmed black men at the hands of police. For many black people, myself included, the moments following these tragic events are filled with despair, sorrow, anger, and frustration. Each incident serves as a reminder that as a black man in America, my life holds little to no value in the eyes of the general public. To be young and black in the United States means to live under constant pressure, something most non-black American citizens know nothing about.

For the majority of black people, the police do not represent protection or safety, rather they are a menacing force that terrorize those they are supposed to serve. I have never felt safe in the presence of law enforcement. In fact, whenever police are in close proximity to me, I feel in danger. Whenever a cop drives behind me or beside me I feel anxious, not protected.

Is my paranoia justified?

I have no criminal record, however I have had numerous run-ins with the police, none of which my actions provoked. The most common of course is being followed around a store. I have never committed a traffic violation, but I have been pulled over several times. A few of those times I was asked to step out of my vehicle to be frisked and forced to sit on the curb in humiliation while being verbally intimidated and having my car searched. The reasons I was given as to why this type of action was necessary...


Ryan Herring is Marketing and Circulation Assistant for Sojourners. You can find more of his writing at The Ghetto Monk.

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