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.
So, it’s not a bedtime story and it’s not a new story, which causes me to believe that somewhere and for some people it is true. I don’t think that you should tuck yourselves in with it and it certainly doesn’t warrant that warm glass a milk. Frankly, I never really understood this request.
Still, this video has been viewed almost five million times on Facebook. It needs to be viewed at least five million times more by every single person in the world. Maybe this video should be made into a song and sold on I-Tunes. Maybe this soundtrack needs to go to the top of the Billboard charts. Perhaps, we should start singing this song more so that we can hear the impact of our silence when police brutality occurs in our world.
This is the sad and unfortunate story of Mr. Alex Landau and it is also our story. Can you hear yourself?
Clearly, I am still thinking about the death of Freddie Gray and Officer Goodson, one of six officers charged with crimes that led to his untimely death. Officer Goodson has been charged with second degree depraved heart murder. Thanks to a twenty- four- hour news cycle and countless crime shows, I am too familiar with the charge of second degree murder. Perhaps, I have become desensitized and disconnected because this tragedy is performed for my entertainment season after season finale with heart- pounding scene cutaways and climactic music.
But, I have been jarred by the video of Freddie Gray’s arrest; Kevin Moore, the man who captured the last moments he was seen alive, has come forward. This is not reality television; we are watching real life. While questions are being raised regarding the knife that was in Mr. Gray’s possession and subsequently, the legality of his arrest is being argued for and against, I am stuck. I can’t move on until we deal with this depraved heart.
A young man has died while in police custody; that cannot be argued. The fact of his funeral cannot be changed or altered. Is the mourning over? Has our heart healed? Have we even acknowledged the depth of loss due to his death and the trust for the law that has seemingly been broken again?
Our relationship with each other has taken another blow. Will we just prepare ourselves for the next offense? Or, will we stop to examine how we got here and why we do not want this to happen again? Will we set up boundaries to ensure mutual respect? Will we get to the heart of the matter at all?
Why are the images of Gray’s arrest upsetting? What expectations for human relationships regardless of position have not been met? And how can we raise the standard of our living together? When did we stop caring about each other? When did our heart change and become hardened? They talk about hardened criminals but I wonder if we have become hardened human beings. How could our heart turn away and allow a man to die not in the arms of a loved one or in presence of family and friends but alone with hands and feet bound on the cold floor of a police van? That the heart of the matter; that’s the evidence that I want examined.