Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dealing With The Cops

-Jacob G. Hornberger
Everyone has to do some serious soul-searching when it comes to dealing with the cops. This is especially true for African-Americans, given that police departments seem to have attracted a disproportionate share of racial bigots to that line of work. But it’s also true for everyone else, given that the police have effectively been given a license to kill citizens with impunity.

No one can escape the possibility of an encounter with the police, especially if driving on streets and highways. As the young black woman Sandra Bland discovered in Texas — indeed, as many drivers have discovered over the years — it’s not difficult for a cop to come up with an excuse for pulling over a driver. In Bland’s case, it was “changing lanes without signaling.” It could just as easily have been “failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign or while turning right at a red light” or “defective taillights” or “speeding” or whatever. In fact, the cop can just make up something if he wants because they all know that most every judge in the land is going to believe a police officer over a citizen.

Even though bigoted cops will never admit it, in the case of African Americans, the real offense is “driving while black” or simply “being black.”

The danger, of course, is that cops are armed and sometimes just having a very bad day emotionally, which means that they are sometimes aching to take out their anxieties on someone else. As we see with the Bland video, policemen oftentimes provoke people into reacting in a negative way and then use that as the excuse for arresting them for “assaulting a police officer” or “resisting arrest.”

The mindset that cops have toward citizens — that they are the masters and we are the servants — clearly poses grave risks to the citizenry. If a person attempts to clarify that it’s the cops who are the servants and the citizens who are the masters, he might well find himself in jail or even dead. Like I say, everyone — but especially African-Americans — has to do some serious soul-searching on how to deal with the cops: Will I assert my rights and demand to be treated with deference and respect or will I keep my mouth shut and submit to abuse, insults, and mistreatment?

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