We Need To Talk About Policing And The Black Community

Once again there has been a shooting of a black man by police. Once again there have been violent protests and attacks on law enforcement.

There was rioting last night in Charlotte, North Carolina after a black man was shot and killed by police. Supposedly, rioters compared themselves to the Taliban. This follows the release of a video from Tulsa, Oklahoma that shows police killing an unarmed black man.

Last month saw rioting in Milwaukee after police there shot and killed a black man. July saw the ambush killing of three Baton Rouge police officers by a black nationalist in retaliation for the killing of Alton Sterling by police. Before that, five Dallas police officers were killed by another black nationalist.

This didn’t just start in July. There has been incident after incident all over the country.

The black community feels at war with the police and the police feel there is a war on them. Both sides have strong and compelling evidence on their side. This is not how a free society is supposed to be and this needs to change.

For an idea of how black Americans are feeling right now, here’s an excerpt from Kira Davis’s piece over at Red State.

During the now infamous Michael Brown “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” situation part of this country literally burned over a narrative that has since been proven untrue. Brown didn’t have his hands up, he wasn’t walking away, but the narrative grabbed hearts and minds and here we are.

Its important to note that the story grew legs because the underlying emotion was already present and bubbling to the surface. Black Americans are feeling disenfranchised, removed from authority in their own lives and pushed to the edges of mainstream society. We can sit and pontificate about all the reasons why but its important to understand that no matter the reason, this is the present.

It just…is.

When we dismiss the anger of people who feel ignored we are dismissing their humanity. So what if you don’t agree with their reasoning? It doesn’t mean that what they’re feeling isn’t real.

When a large segment of the community believes that they’re being singled out by agents of the state, that’s a terrible thing. That’s a failure to build relationships on both sides. This is a problem that needs to be fixed.

Instead of building those relationships, we fall into predictable patterns. We either instinctively believe the police were wrong or the person killed was wrong. There isn’t much nuance there.

Black people aren’t the only ones affected by a breakdown of trust between them and the police. In 2004, I was heading home through a black neighborhood and I was stopped by police. My car was searched as well.

The official reason was because my car had its temp tag in the back window instead of where the license plate should be. But the real reason was because I was a white guy driving through a black neighborhood. They thought I was buying drugs.

The reason, because I was a white guy driving through a black neighborhood. They thought I was buying drugs. That was as much racial profiling as “driving while black” is.

How do we fix this? By building bridges between the police and the black community for starters. Next is by repealing unnecessary laws such as the “Blue Lives Matter” bill to minimize adversarial interactions.

But the first step is by listening to each other. Only then can we work on the rest.

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