It has been my opinion that the citizens in White communities have control over the police while in Black communities, the police have control over the citizens. All we want, which is not too much to ask, is the same justice for everyone. No more no less.
This was the response given last week by a young Black man to a CNN reporter’s question when asked what do you want in Baltimore? He summed up in this one statement what so many Black Americans want — no more no less, justice — and the same respect and fair treatment from law enforcement officials.
He is correct that police respond differently to White citizens unless they believe no one is watching as in the recent case last month in the San Bernardino County desert community of Apple Valley. Nine deputies in that incident thought it was impossible for them to be caught on a camera out in the desert so their mentality was to teach (in this case) a citizen you cannot run from law enforcement without being abused and taught some respect for authority.
We have known but are now learning more from each of these incidents that police leak reports to selected newspapers or reporters they have relationships with to sway public opinion and poison the jury pool just in case they are taken to trial. It is a police strategy to smear the name of the victim that they abuse or kill; I call it police officer strategy class protection 101. I saw it with Rodney King, Tyisha Miller and countless others. In the case of Tyisha Miller, they (officers) attempted to smear Miller’s family members going as far as her first cousins in the Butler family who would not give up the fight for justice.
Now we have 24/7 talk show hosts on cable television who now take their microphones into the Black community and act like attorneys as they interview uncoached witnesses. That same interview is later used against them in court as in Trayvon Martin’s killing. Maybe Black community members should keep their mouths shut like police officers and only talk with federal agents with a lawyer present or local NAACP officials. Have you noticed after each police officer involved shooting the police keep their mouth shut and don’t even talk with the chief or their supervisor? And in Baltimore they did not even have to do anything until after ten days. In other words, time to get their stories straight and on paper with the concurrence of any other officers that were at the crime scene. We clearly saw that in the recent North Charleston case. I know you are thinking this is contrary to what we have been told to do but we cannot continue to tell them “who saw” what so they can get their story to counter what you have seen or recorded on camera.
We must remember the White owned media does not see justice from the Black experience with the police departments. I am not saying that they cannot report in an unbiased manner but their coverage is different and does not capture the true feelings and living experience of what we are saying.
I have also noticed that all of the cities experience the same issue of police not living in the community they are protecting and serving, which is one of the major problems in America. I have pointed out for several years in the City of San Bernardino for example: San Bernardino was listed as having 240 police officers in June 2014 with only 18 living in the city limits. They had 150 non-sworn employees with only 32 of them living in the city.
That means only 50 out of a total of 390 police department employees live within the city limits that pay their salaries. Just like we have been hearing in Ferguson, New York and now Baltimore those police departments are an occupying force with guns on their sides, armor gear and tanks. We must reform this unjust law enforcement system as soon as possible before we lose all confidence from our citizens.
Hardy L. Brown is publisher emeritus of the Black Voice News.