In cases of police brutality, it is often commented that these police officers who abuse their power and exert force unwarranted, unmatched and unprovoked are a few bad apples. We are told that these are isolated incidents and not the norm. It is repeated that the majority of police officers are here “to serve and protect.” And in so doing, we move from talking about specific cases to a general, more comforting and less challenging truth.
It suggests that this is an aberration. We are expected to believe that this does not happen all the time, that there is no need for concern. It is an invitation to focus on the good while ignoring the bleeding, dying bodies of African Americans on city streets. Let’s celebrate the good and look past the bad. Those officers are not a part of the police department. They shouldn’t have been hired to begin with.
First, we distance ourselves from them and then, we begin to disassociate ourselves. Afterwards, we are able to deny them. They are not us. They are not representatives of our America. We are mostly good apples here.
But, I decline the invitation to participate in this kind of conversation and instead, invite us to go lower and to dig deeper. We must look at the roots. Bad apples fall from bad trees.
America has a history of unlawful use of force in the African American community. In fact, it started on their turf, in their homeland. Africans have been experiencing the unlawful touch of persons in power and with guns for hundreds of years.
So, reprimanding, firing and even convicting police officers who position themselves above the law is not enough. No, we must cut down the tree and afterwards, dig up the root. Because even one bad apple will spoil the whole bunch.