Filed Under:  OpEd

‘We only kill Black people’

5th September 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Edmund W. Lewis

Did you hear the one about the DeKalb County (Ga.) law enforcement officer who tried to calm down a white female motorist he had just stopped by reassuring her that “We only kill Black people”? It would be funny if it were just a joke, a funny story designed to diffuse heightened racial tensions across the U.S.

Instead, it is a sad commentary about the state of relations between law enforcement agencies and communities or color.

It is also a stark reminder that the more things change, the more they remain the same.

With regard to police treatment of Black, Brown and poor men, women and children, how much have we progressed since the days when sheriffs delivered Black defendants into the hands of murderous white mobs in the dead of night, cops gunned down Black people like animals in large urban centers like Los Angeles and Detroit, cops routinely tortured and framed Black suspects in cities like Chicago and cops saw nothing wrong with pummeling a handcuffed Rodney King with nightsticks? Seriously.

We still see cops using their badges to marginalize, criminalize, vilify, racially profile, harass and exterminate Black people.

It doesn’t help matters that many of those officers don’t even live in the communities where they work, making it easier for them to view the people they come into contact with every day as “those people,” the ones who live “like animals.”

It is incredibly naive and short-sighted for law enforcement agencies to be shocked by the kind of killings of innocent police officers by civilians after such a long, sordid history of so many officers getting away with murder and treating Black and Brown men in particular like “enemies of the state.”

It is in the best interests of police who wish to make it home to their loved ones at the end of each day to do everything in their power to carry out their sworn duties and take seriously their oath to “protect and serve” all segments of the population.

Anything less will continue to generate fear, resentment, distrust and rage in communities of color, none of which are good for law enforcement agencies who need the cooperation of civilians to solve crimes or cops themselves, who could certainly benefit from working in communities that trust them and look out for them.

If cops want “Blue Lives” to matter more to people who live in communities that get very little protection from the police and only see them when somebody gets killed or accused of a major crime, they need to understand that trust and respect are part of a two-way street that requires police to acknowledge and respect the dignity and constitutional rights of people of color.

Meanwhile, as NFL team owners continue to vilify quarterback Colin Kaepernick for taking a stand against bigotry and oppression, his former teammate is still fighting the good fight for justice and equity.

The Associated Press reported Aug. 27 that San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid, a former LSU standout, has resumed kneeling during the national anthem, something he began doing in solidarity with Kaepernick last football season.

Reid knelt for “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday night, Aug. 27, before the 49ers played at Minnesota in an exhibition game although he stood for the anthem during the team’s first two preseason games. He initially said he had stopped because of frustration last year about the way his protest over human rights was portrayed and perceived by some of the public.

Reid said he had a change of heart after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12 that left one counter-protester dead and 20 others injured.

“We’ve got to keep talking about the issues that are happening in this country,” Reid told The Associated Press. “That’s the only way things will change, if we keep shedding light on these topics. Our plan is to continue to do that.”

49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin showed his support for Kaepernick and Reid by putting a hand on Reid’s shoulder as the safety knelt.

“It’s no secret. All the things that are going on in America, especially being African-American, it’s just hard,” Goodwin later explained. “When you have somebody who chooses to take a knee, that’s just his right. So as a friend, as a brother, as a teammate, I wouldn’t want him to go through anything like that alone. So I had to go support him and let him and everybody else know that I do support him.”

Reid said he appreciated the solidarity and support. Coach Kyle Shanahan said he had no problem with the demonstration. The strong safety said he thinks he’ll kneel all season, the goal being “change.”

“Accountability for officers that step outside the line,” Reid said. “We want our president to be a president and not threaten to shut down the government over a wall. To change the oppression that happens in this country. It has no place in the world, let alone America.

“Our goal is to just keep talking about it. Hopefully we inspire people to do something about it through our protests. And this isn’t something that’s new. I’ve learned a lot of things throughout the past year about athletes that have talked about the same things that we’re talking about. So the goal is just to create some change.”

The Associated Press reported that Kaepernick and Reid remain close. After a hard hit on Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen during the Aug. 27 game, Reid kissed his flexed biceps as Kaepernick used to do.

Other players around the league, including Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett have continued to protest the nation’s treatment of people of color during the national anthem this season.

By the way, I got a couple of questions for y’all. Here we go:

• Do you think Hurricane Harvey convinced any hard-line Texas Republicans that climate change is real?

• Why do so many Republican elected officials suddenly think it is a good idea to do away with Confederate monuments and symbols of racial hatred and oppression?

• How does Congressman Steve Scalise, R-La., condemn white supremacy while he has such a long, documented history of using white code words and being diametrically opposed to anything offered by the nation’s first Black president?

• Over the course of the last 150-plus years, has the United States ever been closer to witnessing a second Civil War than it has been in the days and weeks surrounding the Charlottesville, Va. deadly protest?

• How many of the NFL team owners who are determined to make an example of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick were also major campaign contributors to conservative political candidates who fanned the flames of racial hatred, division and oppression?

• Can you really make an NFL team hire a Black quarterback?

• Who pays as much for water service as New Orleanians but are kept in the dark about the quality of the water, the effectiveness of the water drainage system and how money from taxpayers and federal funds are being spent by the City of New Orleans and the Sewerage & Water Board?

• Given the dire straits we find ourselves in, why does the City of New Orleans still allow nonprofits, faith-based groups and educational institutions to be exempt from paying the millage that is used to maintain the S&WB’s drainage system?

• How long will the Black community allow Black elected officials to get away with failing to represent their interests at City Hall, in the State Legislature and on Capitol Hill?

• Who thinks it is a coincidence that the masses of Black people remain at the lowest rungs of society more than 150 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation?

This article originally published in the September 4, 2017 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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