Part 1 – police are out of control, and have been for a long time
I have always believed in the power of the people. The United States of America has always been about the people who make up this country. The
U.S is a melting pot consisting of Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, Asian, Indian, Men, Women, Transgender, Gay, Straight, Religious, and non-religious. We are all a part of America and all equal. Well, at least we should be in the true spirit of what America was intended to be.
Recent events are showing that most Americans are not satisfied with the America of today and are taking their opinions and voices to the streets with demonstrations and in some cities riots and looting. I am too old to be put protesting and with the pandemic, I don’t feel safe being close to so many people, but I still have strong feelings and this is why I am writing these blog posts.
The murder of George Floyd, a black man, in late May in Minneapolis by a white cop is what brought on the latest protest in America. In cities, both large and small, people of all colors have been gathering in large numbers to protest the inequities in America and in particular focused on the treatment of black Americans by the police force.
During demonstrations in Buffalo, New York a 75-year old white man was shoved to the ground by police and he fell to the ground and cracked his head as policemen walked by him and ignored him. As I am writing this, he is still in the hospital with a brain injury. These are police officers who have sworn to protect and serve American citizens. They are supposed to be people who are looked up to and admired. They are far from this, however, based on what I have experienced and of course what we see on the news.
Police officers do not have an easy job that is certain. There is a lot of stress and danger in their jobs, I get that. I would not want to be a cop and face what they potentially face on a daily basis. I also know that there are some good cops as well as bad cops. However, as a white man who has lived a privileged background, I have had several negative encounters with the police myself. Please allow me to expound on my encounters.
When I was a young teenager I was a passenger in a car driven my sister in the small town I grew up in (Franklin, Virginia). I cannot remember exactly where we were going, but my sister was pulled over by the police. Even though no crime was committed. She was accused of an illegal vehicle maneuver and the police even tried to say there were illegal drugs in the vehicle. This was completely false, and my Father decided to lawyer up. The police were defeated of course, and all charges dropped but what if my family couldn’t afford a lawyer? The small-town police would have gotten away with lying and implying false evidence and my sister would have a record that never actually occurred.
When I was in college at Elon University, my freshman year, I had an encounter with the local town police as well. I will have to preface that I was intoxicated when the incident occurred and too young to be drinking (I was 18), as I had recently discovered alcohol at college and was pretty immature at the time. After drinking in my dorm I headed out on my own to the local college bar (Stupid, I know). I wasn’t bothering anyone and just walking, but before I could make it to my destination the cops intervened and ordered me into the back of their police car. I know I was just a low-life college kid, but the shit those redneck cops said to me was inexcusable. They basically tried to intimidate me with physical harm to scare the living daylights out of me. I was eighteen and away from home for the first time. I was also scared of getting kicked out of college so I did what I could and didn’t do any resisting. The result of the confrontation came to be that I was cited for drunk in public and drinking underage, which I probably deserved but not the verbal intimidation. Were the police actually scared of me even though they had all the authority? I guess I will never know but my already low opinion of the police force became even lower after this incident.
As a young adult, my encounters with the police wasn’t much better. I recall one incident in particular in Durham North Carolina when I was stopped by a female police officer. I can’t remember the exact reason for being stopped but I think it was a minor traffic infraction. During the stop, the officer leaned into my car and asked “Do I smell marijuana?”. She didn’t because there was no marijuana, but what the hell was she trying to accomplish? Was she trying to escalate something beyond what it should have been perhaps?? I didn’t gain any trust for the police after that particular encounter. I will say that I live in Durham now and haven’t had any bad encounters with local police in a while.
Remember the O.J Simpson trial back in 1994? I do. I personally think O.J was guilty as hell and got away with murder, but the reason O.J was found not-guilty was the tapes of Mark Furman. Furman was one of the initial investigators on the scene of the crime. O.J had a dream team of defense lawyers and when they brought in tapes of Furman using the N-word over and over again which in turn raised the possibility that evidence could have been planted by the cops on Simpson. Although O.J was guilty as hell, the LAPD also has a history of mistrust in the black community and in 1992 Rodney King was beaten by the LA police, and this was caught on tape. That incident, as well as others, resulted in the LA riots in 1992.
I don’t think every police officer is a bad apple, and I don’t believe in totally defunding and disbanding the police departments in every city. I do think that police reform is badly needed as well as training to de-escalate situations that don’t result in death. It seems like oftentimes the police officers are just looking to escalate a situation beyond what it needs to be. Case in point is the recent situation in Atlanta with Again, I am a white guy so I can only imagine what it is like for a person of color. Their hatred of the police over the years is well deserved in my opinion. George Floyd was not the first black man to be murdered by the police and unfortunately won’t be the last. It used to be a police officer was considered a hero along with firefighters and medical personnel. Someone a little kid could look up to and dress as on Halloween or career day at their school. The people of the United States are mad, fed up, and not going to take it anymore! Do better police. We the people demand better!!
All content belongs to Bruce Gilbert