In North Carolina, I’ve come to believe that the real reasons why officers run radar on citizens and drop warrants on them and search their vehicles for no good reason is simple: because they don’t like them.
The good news is, all of this creates an undeniable power imbalance between citizens and police officers. Criminals are much more powerful than victims of crime, and victims of police violence are much more powerless.
When criminal suspects are searched, watched, and corralled and frisked, all this is carried out at the whim of the law enforcement officer with nothing more than their skin color, race and socioeconomic class on his or her mind.
Officers will issue large seizures of goods and engage in numerous invasive procedures based purely on their racial prejudices.
Another thing about police officers: when they make stops and frisks or arrest people, their plainclothes partners don’t even have to watch the poor sod get searched by gun-wielding officers, drive home, and go do his or her job with his or her own life in danger. Why on earth should anyone even bother stopping someone they know – and it may be someone you love.
In North Carolina, many police officers are just as racist as the police officers whose beliefs are quite a bit more advanced than we like to admit. So those officers stop people, detaining, immobilizing, and terrorizing residents of a state more segregated than Mississippi.
When this power imbalance between citizen and law enforcement continues, if not increases, then many people will be locked up because of the racial dimension of being a black man in the US.
In North Carolina, while I believe that it’s common for people to say, “If you want to help the police in my community you have to play ball,” I believe that most people are naïve and sincere about their expectations.
Most people, by the way, don’t want to be stopped by the police, so if they’re stopping you, they’re definitely doing something right. People can say, “But people are stealing,” without the logic of having a stolen item for sale.
People, by the way, don’t want to be stopped by the police, so if they’re stopping you, they’re definitely doing something right.
This all bothers me for another reason: black people are routinely scared of police, so it’s no surprise that many black people believe they’re in violation of the law when they simply say what they think is true, and do what they think is right, to help themselves.
My mother was frequently stopped and detained by police officers in North Carolina when she was a young single mother. My mother, like me, told cops everything about herself, because of her deep belief that if she did not share her true identity it would endanger her life. (This belief was corroborated by my father who was a friend of the family.)
When it comes to black communities, policing happens, “vigorously”, in a way that most people would categorize as a violation of rights, and a violation of black people’s bodies and the very humanity of black people. Every second, black people have to watch out for strangers (i.e. police) who are sometimes willing to stop them, search them, detain them and threaten to kill them if they give any kind of information to the law that a police officer did not create.
This, of course, isn’t a desire for the police to see more people of color, it’s the absolute opposite. The police know full well that black people will freeze up, cause terror, try to call for help, and even call out of fear for the officers.
As a police officer, a citizen and a citizen’s right to peaceful assembly, this is absolutely unacceptable, and must be stopped.