Terrence M. Cunningham, the president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, apologized Oct. 17 on behalf of police in the U.S., “for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color,” reports the Washington Post.
I don’t need to remind you, but I will, that this is the mentality of slave owners — the muscle memory of oppression that beats in American hearts still, in quiet and loud ways, and leads the systems of this nation to marginalize those who look different than the most privileged.
Every black parent in America has to have “the talk” with his or her sons and daughters — about how to act and not act in the presence of white police officers with guns. It’s a painful family ritual that is slowly being discovered by America’s white parents as more and more police killings of young African Americans occur and are nationally discussed.
IN DECEMBER 2014, the white police chief of Richmond, Calif., showed up at a local protest against police brutality. The ethnically diverse city is infamous for its violent Iron Triangle neighborhood, but Chief Chris Magnus didn’t arrive at the protest to bust heads, or even to merely “keep an eye on” the assembly. Instead, he held a sign. It read, quite simply, “Black Lives Matter.”
The reaction was quick and intense—even the Richmond Police Officers Association issued a statement claiming Magnus had broken state law by “politicking” in uniform.
“I can understand how it is hard for a lot of police officers, especially given what has gone on in some of the protests,” Magnus said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Nevertheless, he doesn’t regret holding the sign. “I’d do it again,” he said. “[T]he idea that black lives matter is something that I would think that we should all be able to agree upon.”
Like Richmond’s police officers denouncing Magnus, negative national reactions to the Black Lives Matter movement have come quickly and decisively, replete with slogans such as “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter,” which refers to police officers.
Churches with “Black Lives Matter” signs have seen the word “black” defaced. Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown, received hundreds of thousands of dollars from online donors, as did George Zimmerman, the neighborhood-watch vigilante who killed Trayvon Martin.
In May, Louisiana took “Blue Lives Matter” to the next level when Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill that added public safety workers to protected-class status for hate crimes legislation, thereby joining ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities. And in July, following the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the sniper killing of five Dallas police officers, protesters in Baton Rouge were met with armored tanks, percussion weapons, and the threat of being charged with the “hate crime” of obstructing police in response to their nonviolent actions.
This is the politics of polarization. Discussions on race in the United States too often behave according to Newton’s third law of motion: “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” It’s true within the church as well: While 82 percent of black Protestants believe that police killings are part of a pattern, 73 percent of white mainline Protestants say the opposite—to them, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, and the hundreds of other unarmed black Americans killed by police are “isolated incidents.”
Judge Barry G. Williams, the same judge presided over the acquittals of Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson, cleared Rice of involuntary manslaugher, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.
African-Americans often express frustration at white Americans for overlooking their grief at the deaths of young black men shot and killed by police.
On a conference call last week, hours before Micah Xavier Johnson, a black man, opened fire and killed five white police officers, about 500 Christians, black and white, tried to bridge that racial divide.
I didn’t know whether to stop. I turned the corner and noticed you first, before I noticed the police cars and the flashing lights and your car crammed full of stuff. You were standing there, jeans and hoodie. Hands in pocket and hood over your head. It was cold and you did not have on a coat. I was in my warm car, and you were standing in the January cold.
Police in Baton Rouge, La., shot and killed 37-year-old Alton Sterling after pinning him to the ground in a convenience store parking lot.
Graphic footage of the shooting has circulated online, sparking nationwide outrage and protests.
Best known for his role in "Grey's Anatomy," Williams stole the show on a night featuring a surprise performance by Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar.
“We believe in the value, power, and potential of training to produce more effective, more capable, and better police officers,” the Ferguson Commission wrote. I believe in this, too. And I believe that investing in a better police force may yield a future where “liking the police” is no longer a privilege, but the norm.
The Department of Justice will not pursue charges against the Minneapolis police officers who shot and killed Jamar Clark, U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger announced at a press conference June 1.
A Baltimore judge found Officer Edward Nero not guilty on all four of the charges he faced in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, reports ABC News.
Video of the incident, showing officers pepper spraying and dragging her as they laughed, was released April 28.
The City of Cleveland has agreed to pay $6 million dollars to Tamir Rice's family to settle a lawsuit against the two officers who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice in November 2014.
On Nov. 22, 2014, a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice when he was playing with a toy gun in a public park. Over a year later, this past December, a grand jury declined to indict the two officers involved in the shooting.
Now, the city of Cleveland is charging his family for death-related medical expenses.
The former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw has been sentenced to 263 years in prison for raping and sexually assaulting eight women and girls. Holtzclaw, who is white and Japanese, intentionally sought out black women in poor areas as his victims.
My earliest encounter with law enforcement was when Kern County sheriff’s deputies pulled my cousin and me over in the fall of 1993. They pulled us out of vehicle in middle of nowhere and pushed my face in the gravel. I could taste the bits of rock pushing on my lips and teeth as the deputy asked, “Where is the knife?” And for the third time I assured him that I didn’t have a knife. We were eventually released that night and drove home, but that would not be my last encounter with the sheriff’s department.
Hundreds of protestors have flooded streets in downtown Chicago, demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel resign.
The protests began after Mayor Emanuel publicly apologized for the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot and killed by police in 2014. The Chicago Police Department’s chief of detectives retired suddenly Dec. 7.
I remain deeply disturbed by the visual of the small, black girl being tossed across the classroom by a “man” in a police uniform. Intellectually, I am aware that what appears to be an act of senseless violence is yet another contribution to a mountain of overwhelming evidence that black lives do not matter in our society. But I also know Ben as a loving human being, filled with a deep sense of compassion and justice. How do I reconcile the two?
I must step back and look more closely at the roots of his behavior. What led him to such force? Was it a trained response? Was there a personal antecedent? … Does it matter?
On the occasion of Martin Luther King’s assassination, Robert Kennedy spoke to an audience of black people in Indianapolis — one of the few major cities not to erupt in violence. Kennedy implored the audience to not react in anger at the “awful grace of God.” My friend Ben Fields is currently caught up in such a moment and I would like to help him navigate the treacherous waters where he has suddenly found himself.