The African American community’s relationship with Law Enforcement has been under strain for as long as I can remember.
Most recently, in the past 2-3 years, I have become more aware of this strain because of a new-found maturity (and a new-found ability to stomach the news).
I ALWAYS, since a little girl, had a fear of the police. I never questioned my fear, I just knew that if police were around in my community, it was never a good thing. If police were around that meant that someone was dead, someone was hurt, or someone in the neighborhood was being arrested.
With the recent publicized acts of discrimination and police brutality I now understand why I always had that underlying fear. I knew not to trust the police because I always equated them with bad things.
Because of these recent developments and their publication, my mistrust of law enforcement has risen. With so many officers not being prosecuted for acts which are morally wrong, and even caught on tape committing these acts, I had lost all faith in the justice system.
I began to develop an “us against them” mentality which I now know needs to change.
Today I watched police departments from all over the United States come to lay a Philadelphia Police officer to rest.
I watched them shut down my street as police cars from Erie, PA to New York City came down to honor their fallen brother.
There were even travel buses filled with police officers from California and other states who had come too far to take their own patrol vehicles.
The officer slain was a young man from the neighborhood. He went to high school across the street from me, was only 30, and frequented a church that I have been to.
He was shot during a robbery while he tried to purchase a video game for his son.
The slain officer was not that different from me and anyone that I grew up with. He was young, black and gunned down for seemingly no reason, just as young black men are killed by officers for almost no reason.
I understand what my city was doing in having officers come in from all over and ride through this young officer’s neighborhood. This humanized the police force and showed solidarity.
In a time like this any type of solidarity we can get needs to be displayed, and any way to show the police force as a part of the community is a a good look.
As I watched this astonishing act of solidarity occur in my neighborhood I realized that this “us against them” mentality had to go. It can’t be us against them if some of “them” are truly “us”.
Just as Mike Brown is your son, so is Officer Robert Wilson III.
I do not have the answer to why “we” keep dying so senselessly, but I now do know that the answer ISN’T a divide. Some way…we have to come together. I don’t know how to make this change because the fear and divide is so long standing, but if it continues the resentment from both sides will never go away and will only worsen.