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Bullies of the Mind and Body

Our weekly commentary from Socially Speaking

A Socially Speaking commentary from social change activist and author, Perry Redd

There’s a reason why I just can’t kumbaya with police. They’re bullies. No, I can’t speak for any one police officer, but law enforcement, as an institution, give me reason—time after time—to dislike, distrust and disdain them. The Michael Brown shooting has simply exposed many of the elements of that disdain that most of us already knew.
Now, I know you heard about the show of solidarity by the St. Louis Rams football team. The St. Louis Police Officers Association says it’s infuriated after five St. Louis Rams players raised their hands Sunday in solidarity with protesters upset at Michael Brown’s death. The police association even went as far as to demand an apology. An apology? You’ve GOT to be kiddin’ me? Nobody from the association is apologizing for taking the life of an unarmed Black man!
The sheer arrogance of this over-protected industry of professionals is maddening. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why they don’t even consider enough is enough? People are marching for justice all around the country and they believe that justice was served—their justice. Why can’t they allow the aggrieved party to vent? They’ve gotten away with yet another murder and the only recompense was a few burned buildings and cars and a few hours of stopped traffic. They truly don’t want to—and won’t acquiesce to President Obama’s proposals for reform.
Don’t get me wrong, President Obama punked out on this one, just like every other instance that involved race and the Black American experience. He might talk a good game (like when Trayvon Martin was murdered), but he’s not going to do a damned thing. The president said he wants to ensure the U.S. isn’t building a “militarized culture” within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racially charged protests in Ferguson, Missouri. He’s going to keep allowing them to play soldier with Black and poor communities.

Then he’s going to ask Congress for funding to buy 50,000 body cameras to record events like the shooting death of an unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown and look for ways to build trust and confidence between police and minority communities nationwide. You know like I know that conservative Republicans—backed by NRA and police union money—will hatchet that effort. All we’ll end up with from him is the kumbaya moment we got in the White House meeting…just another “Beer Summit.”

Look, I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night. As soon as Michael Brown was shot, police—and white America—instantly absolved the former officer Darren Wilson from all guilt. Since it was a Black man, they instantly form the perception that “he had to be doing something wrong.” That’s where the police PR machine takes the baton.

They hunker down and “circle the wagons.” Then they protect the perpetrator; keep him hidden from public view. In the first month, we couldn’t even get the public servant’s name! Then, they formed the moat around the officer (or white male…take your pick); raising money for Wilson’s “defense fund” was absolutely insulting. What were they raising money for? They knew he wasn’t going to be indicted!

Then, the PR team attacks the victim. They “leak” privileged information to the press while simultaneously inflate negatives from the victim’s past. The prosecuting team is working the whole time in perfect accord with the police. The only time they don’t is when the police officer goes off script. It’s all a well-oiled conspiracy.

More importantly, it’s all an insult—and assault—of the Black American’s body and mind. When Michael Brown was shot, we felt that. He was our son, our brother…us. The law enforcement establishment attacks all of us (white people just don’t know it) when they murder another unarmed Black man (or in the case of 12-year old Tamir Rice, boy). I’m thoroughly convinced that since they don’t care about us—as Americans—we should not care about them. No shopping in or at their dear establishments, no voting for their candidates, no watching their television programs, no buying their music.

The four St. Louis Rams players—like the young people who burned down Ferguson—should be commended and supported. The police association say they’re furious with the Rams; then go watch another NFL team from St. Louis…oh, there is no other (you can laugh here). “Vote with your wallet,” like you tell us! The NFL knows what I know: you can protest all you want (The Washington team name), but Americans are wedded to football. Concussions can knock men silly, but Americans will ignore all that is right and good to see Negroes perform on the gridiron.

We’ve got our priorities messed up. Protest, boycott and vote. We must let America know that this result runs contrary to the 14th Amendment (and no, there was no due process). We must boycott because that’s the only thing authority listens to: knuckles and threats to their wealth; and we must vote because we cannot continue to allow people who will never respect us nor live our experience, make decisions on our behalf. If we don’t, then we’re simply surrendering to those who bully our bodies and minds.

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