Across the United States, more than 800,000 people serve as local and state law enforcement officials (LEO). These LEOs are charged with upholding and enforcing the law, maintaining order, and providing general services. To carry out these duties, police officers possess certain powers, granted by the state. If the situation calls for it, police officers can frisk, detain, and arrest civilians, as well as seize property. In addition, depending upon the situation, police officers are empowered to use force to defend themselves or civilians (the amount of force extends along a spectrum from police presence through deadly force). Given the powers that police officers have, it is incumbent upon them to maintain a level of professionalism in the course of their duties and to wield their powers responsibly and ethically. Unfortunately, there are countless examples of cops engaging in a range of irresponsible, unethical, immoral, and/or illegal activities from bribery and unjustified arrests to illegal search and seizure and the use of excessive force. Here are five such examples:
Texas Police Chief Under Investigation for Arresting Black Pageant Winner and Allegedly Calling Her ‘Black Bitch’
“You better respect mah authority or I’m going to intimidate and harass you, call you sexist slurs, and OH YEAH, we’re going to cuff you and put you in jail. All because we are deplorable, entitled white supremacist pieces of shit who enjoy misusing the authority and power granted us by the state. We especially look forward to any chance to display our power over black women in unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral acts.” –what the police chief of Commerce, TX would likely say if he were bound by Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth.
That about sums up the racist as hell, fucked up experience of Carmen Ponder, Miss Black Texas US Ambassador 2016:
Carmen S. Ponder was verbally assaulted and harassed by a motorist in a Wal-Mart parking lot located in Commerce, Texas. The motorist was upset that Ms. Ponder passed his vehicle which was being operated by his fourteen year old daughter. When Ms. Ponder refused to apologize to the motorist, or acknowledge his verbal tirade beyond stating “it’s illegal” to allow a fourteen year old to operate a motor vehicle on a public highway, the motorist became even more upset and began directing racial slurs at Ms. Ponder. Without engaging her assailant any further, Ms. Ponder entered the Wal-Mart facility.
At the time she was accosted Ms. Ponder did not know who the man was that was attacking her. However, upon exiting the Wal-Mart, Ms. Ponder was approached by a plain clothes officer that flashed a badge and pointed to a man standing nearby stating “that is my chief and you’d better go apologize to him!”
Ms. Ponder understood the demand to mean that the man that had verbally attacked her in the parking lot earlier was Chief of Police Kerry Crews who then demanded an apology. Ms. Ponder did not understand the statement from the plain clothes officer to be a lawful command or any form of arrest or detention. She was not willing to apologize and attempted to continue to her vehicle when she was grabbed by the officer and pulled back toward the Wal-Mart entrance with enough force to cause bruising to her arms. Ms. Ponder immediately called 9-1-1 using her cell phone. When a uniformed officer arrived, he took a statement from the plain clothes officer and promptly placed Ms. Ponder in handcuffs. She was placed in the back of a police vehicle and taken to the local jail where she was later informed she was being charged with evading arrest or detention and held overnight.
Since the incident, the City of Commerce has issued a statement that Chief Crews was not the motorist that verbally assaulted Ms. Ponder. In a press release, the City suggested instead that Chief Crews became involved in the incident after being approached by one of the parties. Media sources have suggested the motorist was in fact Michael Beane, a school board member for the City. While Ms. Ponder acknowledges that it is possible that Crews was not the man from the initial verbal assault, the actions of Commerce Police Department in responding to the incident represent clear abuse of authority and violations of Ms. Ponder’s civil rights.
“Evading arrest”?! What the fuck was she being arrested over? Oh, once again, I forget that black people are always and forevermore required to show respect and proper deference to white people. And extra ass kissing and love to those white supremacist pieces of shit in positions of power like the racist cops in this story. I hope she sues the fuck out of that city and lives the rest of her life as a rich woman. Whatever she does, she probably shouldn’t move to Madison County, Mississippi, bc then she’d have to worry about home invasions.
By the police.
ACLU Lawsuit: Wealthy White County Uses Police to Harass, Unlawfully Target Black Citizens to Keep Them Away
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a class-action lawsuit Monday, May 8, accusing the Madison County Sheriff’s Department of targeting Black people for illegal searches and seizures. The complaint also accuses police of subjecting Black communities to lawless police tactics, including pedestrian checkpoints, roving roadblocks and even home invasions.
“The Madison County Sheriff’s Department routinely targets Black people through widespread stops, searches and arrests that are not based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, but on race,” an ACLU press release read. “These practices frequently use unjustified and excessive force.”
The complaint names 10 individuals who claim they were unlawfully searched, detained or arrested by the MCSD while doing everyday activities like walking to work, driving through the neighborhood or hanging out in their own homes. The ACLU now is seeking injunctive relief for the “thousands of victims” of the county’s unconstitutional policies.
Aside from being Mississippi’s wealthiest county, Madison County also has been touted as one of the most segregated places in America, according to ThinkProgress. Previous court decisions have highlighted the area’s “racial isolation” and its “confluence of … geography and demography.” Now, the ALCU is alleging that officials have gone so far as to use local police to sort of rope off the county’s 40,000 Black residents.
When I discuss racism, there’s a reason I invariably bring up the sociological definition–so many white people don’t get it. Whether it’s a deliberate misunderstanding, or a comprehension problem, many white people do not understand racism as anything other than the damn dictionary definition. Stories like the above highlight the pernicious nature of racism. It’s not a Black person being called the N-word. The N-word represents the dehumanization, subjugation, and oppression of black bodies, bc in one word it distills the contempt and bias against us that so many white people possess. In and of itself, it does not oppress African-Americans. But it is not alone. When that contempt and anti-black bias is wedded to large scale power (power sufficient to oppress Blacks in great numbers), *that’s* when racism happens. And that’s exactly what’s seen in this example: anti-Black prejudice combined with the requisite power to see their bigotry enforced via agents of the state (power on that scale is something that Black people lack, which is why only white people can be racist in the West–they hold the power *and* have the prejudice.
(here is a copy of the complaint from the ACLU)
Another thing I’m vocal about is the need for socially aware white people (those who want to be allies in the fight against racism) to stand up and combat racism where they see it. They need to call/fax/write their elected representatives about issues such as redlining and mass incarceration. They need to challenge the racism of their “good old Uncle Bob whom everyone in the family knows is racist, but no one will say anything to”. Stop letting Uncle Bob’s racism slide. White folks can support black businesses, donate to their local Black Lives Matter chapter or give to an HBCU, and oh yeah! Y’all can do something else. Don’t stand by and let a black person get accosted by police without doing a damn thing.
No one is asking for you to place yourself between a cop and a black person, but film that shit. Ask the officers what they’re doing and why. Create enough of a hubbub that more people join in. You don’t have to place yourselves in harms way, but FFS, don’t just ignore the police harassment of black people like scores of white people did when the President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus was detained and assaulted by police.
While he was participating in the March For Science:
Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus, was walking in a crosswalk near the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture when a Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer approached him.
“What are you doing? Stop grabbing me,” Yearwood told the police officer during the incident, which he chronicled in an article for The Huffington Post. The officer told Yearwood to “stop resisting,” although the environmental leader said he wasn’t. “I dropped my umbrella, and put my hands up. I told him I was there for the Science March. He said he had to detain me because I ‘could be on drugs.’ Yes, he really said that,” Yearwood wrote.
Yearwood has not decided how he will proceed in response to the incident or whether he will pursue a lawsuit against the police department. The MPD had not responded to ThinkProgress’ request for comment at the time of posting.
Yearwood said that after the initial alleged attack, he was surrounded by five police officers next to the food truck into which he had been slammed. “I was in fear for my life,” he wrote. “The officer then asks if I had an ID because he wanted to check for outstanding warrants. … I asked why he was detaining me and why he roughed me up. He told me to shut up and to give him my ID.”
Do police departments have some hush hush, secret Jim Crow 2 handbook? I mean come the fuck on! It really is like Jim Crow never ended. That a Black person can be stopped and accosted by cops for doing absolutely NOTHING wrong is hardly any different from this time 100 years ago when walking down the street the wrong way could get a black person arrested. Or lynched. Although, come to think of it, there is one key difference: today the police are the ones who brutalize black bodies, rather than white supremacist terrorists in white bed sheets.
“Hands up! Don’t shoot!“
In the wake of the extrajudicial execution of Michael Brown, Jr at the hands of the murderous ex-cop Darren Wilson, those four words became a mantra for Black Lives Matter activists across the nation. They served as shorthand for the frustration and outrage of a community that is tired of being the victims of excessive force by police officers. This force has been brought to bear against Black bodies for decades in innumerable circumstances. All too often, those circumstances do not justify the use of any force, let alone the excessive or lethal kind. Unfortunately, for all that African-Americans know that we are not prone to criminality and violence, a metric fuckton of people in this country have not received that message. On a subconscious level, a great many people hold implicit biases about African-Americans, a major one of which is the conflation of Blacks with criminality and violence. There are many (myself included) who feel this conflation (which occurs on a subconscious level) plays a significant role in the split second decisions by police officers to use excessive or lethal force against black people. I think it was a significant factor in the 2016 decision by Officer Jonathan Aledda to shoot Charles Kinsey. On July 18, 2016, police claimed to have received reports of someone wandering the streets of North Miami with a gun (Heeeey! We live in a country where politicians want people to have that right, so if all you are doing is wandering around with a gun that shouldn’t be a call the cops worthy offense. Oh, wait. I keep forgetting. Only white people can wander around with firearms and remain unbothered by police. Because they are harmless little angels who won’t even hurt a fly, let alone shoot up movie theaters, churches, or abortion clinics). Though no gun was discovered at the scene, Kinsey was still shot for the crime of…hmmm…oh it was the crime of…no…how about…nope…D’oh, yeah. I forgot again. He’s a Black man.
Anyways, as it turns out, Officer Aledda isn’t the only police officer involved in this case who is in hot water:
North Miami police Cmdr. Emile Hollant was given notice Wednesday that he will be fired after an investigation into the shooting of Charles Kinsey, according to city officials.
Hollant was in charge when Kinsey was shot as he was lying on his back, with his hands in the air in the area of Northeast 14th Avenue and Northeast 127th Street. Sitting next to him was an autistic man holding a toy truck.
In the video of the incident, Kinsey is heard telling officers that he is unarmed. Authorities said Officer Jonathon Aledda was behind a car 152 feet away when he shot Kinsey.
Aledda has since been charged with attempted manslaughter and culpable negligence.
A memo dated July 22, 2016, states that Hollant was asked by Chief Gary Eugene if he had witnessed the shooting, and he advised that he had not.
“Evidence later collected during the administrative review process revealed that Commander Hollant to have been present prior, during and after the shooting incident,” the memo said. “Given the belief that Commander Hollant was not a witness to the incident, he was neither interviewed by the Investigative Section in a timely manner, nor separated as the other witness officers were at the scene.”
And here I thought all cops were good, just, fair. Defenders of all that is white with the world. Arresters of the guilty. Protectors of innocent car crash victims. Oh, wait…
Might need to amend that last bit.
(warning: there is a video of part of the incident at the link. Some scenes may be disturbing)
The incident came after a police chase Sunday night in Jersey City, where officers tried to stop a vehicle driven by 48-year-old Leo Pinkston. Police fired multiple bullets at Pinkston’s vehicle, but the pursuit ended when he crashed into a utility pole and caused a fire, NJ.com reported.
In the video, another driver whose car was also wrecked in the crash emerges on fire from the burning vehicle. When he rolls on the ground to put out the flames, a police officer starts repeatedly kicking the innocent victim, as others stomp on him.
“Our investigators have reviewed the video and we believe with certainty that this man is the bystander from West New York who suffered burns, not Leo Pinkston, the individual pursued by police,” Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez said in a statement.
The victim remained hospitalized Monday in critical but stable condition, the Associated Press reported.
This kind of behavior–which is supposed to be in direct opposition to the behavior police officers are supposed to exhibit, is more than often exactly the way they act when dealing with black people. After all, this is a country that has devalued black lives since its formation and has been following the doctrine of white supremacy for centuries. It’s to be expected that the law enforcement agents (i.e. the brutish arm of that white supremacist culture) would treat Black people as less than human. Similarly, it makes sense that those who benefit from the race-based caste system would collectively demonstrate their unreliability in ending the the pervasive problem of racism. Yeah, it makes sense, but it fucking sucks.
I seem to recall some time in the past…almost a mythical one…when the job of a police officer was a bit different from beating innocent car crash victims, lying about their roles in active investigations, or shooting unarmed civilians. Yeah. their job was along the lines of this: