Time’s Up on Systemic Racism in Law Enforcement

If you need to get caught up on where this piece takes off from, read my article about non-blacks feeling the weight of blackness in America. Yes, this is another article about the death of George Floyd and other black men and women brutalized and killed by law enforcement officers. When women were fed up with rape culture in Hollywood, they spoke up with the mantra, “time’s up.” I don’t want to hijack their movement which after many years has righted many wrongs, but I do need to borrow that energy! After watching yet another black man die at the hands of police brutality, we’re here to say the same.

Sign the petition to get justice for George Floyd

The movement has been co-opted and hijacked by white people seeking fame and seeking to discredit the valiant cause. We will not be silenced! And to those wishing to deflect the conversation and responsibility of the movement by bringing up black on black crime, I have this question: Since officers can solve black on black crime so well, where’s the disconnect when one of theirs is in video committing a crime? What about the super sleuths on the force which can break up a criminal enterprise but feel so comfortable existing as part of one? Does your goodwill and integrity clock out when you clock in on the force? 

To those good cops out there who are tired of getting the blame, I’m not sorry. As a law-abiding black man, this is the weight I feel when an officer speeds up behind me, hoping I have a warrant (because I can visibly see him searching on the laptop in his cruiser). I’m a good guy, I pay my taxes, give in church, love my family, and even vote in each election, why am I living under presumed guilt when An officer sees me? I don’t just want officers to see me as a just man; I actually want simply be alive after they see me.

How did we get here? 

This past decade rivals one of the bloodiest in our country’s history. If not a return to the lawless days of the 60’s when black people, men in particular were hunted down by white men who never faced prosecution, it is a dangerous reprisal. 

With the death of George Floyd, the world saw just how bad it is on the street for a black man.  The world has again seen that the greatest terrorist in the world is a uniformed police officer. The people’s response to this? We’ve taken it to the streets! The President wants to arm the military against citizens but where in the world are my friends who took up arms and marched to the Capitol, City Hall and Governor’s mansions for a haircut?!? Where are y’all? These people don’t love the constitution, they love themselves and use loopholes in the constitution for the sole purpose of self-aggrandizement.

With all this marching and protesting going on, what will it take for cities, counties and states to take action and actually change? The remaining three officers are yet to be arrested, and cities with the same police brutality problem have made no sweeping changes. In fact, they’re committing the same crimes during the protests (we see you, Louisville). What if anything are municipalities doing? It feels like they’re just waiting for it all to just “blow over” and get back to business as usual.

Come on, man, what else does this country need to see before people in power are moved to do something? What needs to happen to spur immediate action? It’s obviously not the death of an unarmed citizen. But is it the death of an official? Officers? What is it? Obviously the death of an unarmed citizen at the hands of FOUR police officers isn’t enough? Making matters worse, George Floyd was a black man like hundreds of others before him! 

What will it take?

We thought Freddie Gray would move the needle (his death was so heinous), Philando Castile? He couldn’t even get support from the NRA and adding insult to injury, the officer was acquitted!  What is it all for when nothing is happening? In a letter condemning the killing of George Floyd, the major Cities Chiefs Association has juxtaposed itself against this moment in history. Law enforcement leaders have the audacity to rise to the podium and chide protesters (looters, be damned) but won’t say a word to officers or how they plan to flatten the curve of citizen deaths at the hands of their departments.

What are we to do after so many of these high profile deaths?

It’s laughable that police chiefs have spoken up to decry the actions of the officers in Minnesota but on that list I noticed that Fort Worth’s Chief Krause (Atatiana Jefferson) and Dallas’ Chief Hall (Botham Jean) lent their support. Oh really? Is that how it works?!? Hypocrites!! How can you condemn in the heat of the moment when you won’t rise to the moment when it’s in your house?

It’s time to start making changes. I’m tired of law enforcement brutalizing citizens of all races so I’m speaking up. Am I hated for it? Sometimes. Do I feel misunderstood by my friends? Sometimes. Do I have a higher calling to answer to? All the time! So, time is up on the tolerance bad police behavior. We are here, wherever that is for you because we are tired! The United States has erupted in protests and in solidarity with sensible citizens who will no longer sit idly by, nations all over the world have joined in. Dr. King joined others in Montgomery, Alabama yesterday (nearly 65 years ago), and we are here today; but if we are still here tomorrow, the fires of injustice will finally consume this nation! We refuse to tolerate systemic racism in law enforcement, time is up!

We’re Here Because We’re Tired

And you know, my friends, there comes a time when people get tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression. There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being plunged across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November. There comes a time.

We are here, we are here this evening because we’re tired now. And I want to say that we are not here advocating violence. We have never done that. I want it to be known throughout Montgomery and throughout this nation that we are Christian people. We believe in the Christian religion. We believe in the teachings of Jesus. The only weapon that we have in our hands this evening is the weapon of protest. That’s all.

And certainly, certainly, this is the glory of America, with all of its faults. This is the glory of our democracy. If we were incarcerated behind the iron curtains of a Communistic nation we couldn’t do this. If we were dropped in the dungeon of a totalitarian regime we couldn’t do this. But the great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Montgomery, Alabama, 1955

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