Why Are Police Officers Allowed to Beat Up Citizens Without Punishment?
We are in a crisis. I realize that you’re blinded by the normalcy of it all — but trust me when I say that the shit happening around us and to us — is the very reason why Black Mirror exists.
We watch the episodes with eyes wide open and take in the dramatized offering of our own predicament. From the poor woman who’s caught up in a reality show that she didn’t sign up for — but has to participate in for the benefit of the maddening crowd — to a framed politician who is forced to publicly perform an abominable act to rescue a high-priced hostage— the writers’ room doesn’t have to search very far for inspiration.
Black pain is still the currency of choice as the daily delivery of imagery continues to feed our need to be assured that this profitable but deadly venture won’t have an end date.
Everyone is scamming — including me.
I don’t have to wait too long before the next video is deposited in my timeline — and then blood boils over as I exhaustively examine the evidence as if it’s the very first of its kind.
This one is just as bad as the others and features the usual suspects — embodying the roles they were born to play.
The location is Mesa, AZ — and this time there are four police officers — and two of them look Black. They casually approach an unarmed — able-bodied Black guy who seems to be cool — calm and collected as he leans against the wall — scrolling through his phone.
What happens next is something that we’ve all come to expect because it’s tragically the preferred default for law enforcement officers who can’t seem to follow standard protocol when it comes to situations involving people of color.
The way the attack happens is almost like a scene out of New York Undercover — or a reenactment video for the benefit of trainees who are being groomed to not replicate the actions of the actors who are pummeling the hell out of the helpless victim.
But — this is real life.
The brutal punches aren’t fake and the gang of thugs are dressed to kill — but they manage to temporarily disable their target instead of shooting him dead. He’s battered and bruised — but at least he’s breathing.
The video has made its rounds through the media circuit with the same level of attention that all the others garnered during their trending period. Nightly news segments that showcase the poise of well-suited White male anchors — describing the horror show with astute familiarity and the confidence that they will never be subjected to such violence — has become standard fare.
Much later in the evening — there will be the ceremony of Black experts in the media — who are asked to engage in a conversation that has really evolved into a religious gathering. Networks like CNN and others in that realm have a habit of only needing us when Black people are fucked over by police brutality — but that’s where our relevance ends.
Perhaps this song and dance has been extended for far too long — and now it’s time for the credits to roll.
Why are police officers allowed to beat up citizens without punishment?
Because they’re Black? Or is it due to the fact that we’ve become accustomed to the not-so stunning videos that no longer fit into the cringe-worthy category because of intense circulation and multitude of shares.
There’s no thorough investigation or accountability involved — just the assurance that the bullish officers will be punished with a paid vacation — as the department sorts out PR issues and banks on the fact that there will be a bloodier incident from another precinct to save the day.
It’s not sufficient to write about this stuff anymore — and each time I beg myself to refrain from the task that has become my signature print — the torture chamber closes in and the only way to breathe is to submit to my fate.
I have to write about how police officers not only beat up Black men — but also extend crime and punishment to Black women. I have to make it known that there’s a strong possibility that I will have grown ass men with badges — towering over my body — as I shield myself from the mighty blows that won’t stop until I’m very still.
I must express how awful it feels to imagine being reduced to a newly-minted hashtag that will eventually wear out its welcome or a news item that surfaces on the screen and then disappears before viewers have enough time to memorize my name or face.
It’s easy to internalize the misfortune of others when the danger isn’t close enough to pose a threat.
We’re able to discuss it with concern — but without the heaviness that befalls you when the call you receive is from a stranger who’s covered in your brother’s blood.
How long are we going to applaud the routine violence that police officers are legally able to exact on Black America without the consequences that would ensue if the victims were White.
How and when did we make the adjustment that permits us to accept the societal torture of Black and brown bodies — in full view — and with the graphic authority that even animals can’t relate to.
We joke about how police officers would readily tread a tightrope to save a wearied kitten — but would relish the sight of a Black man choking on his own blood in a deserted parking lot.
But — it’s not fucking funny.
I don’t enjoy noticing the number of impressive views of a video depicting the shooting death of another Black victim or the graphic assault of another Black girl who is hoarse from hours of screaming.
Police officers are allowed to terrorize Black people because that’s how it’s always been and this deadly ritual is now an enterprise that employs enough of us on all sides of the spectrum.
We get paid to write and talk about it. We use the spotlight to enhance our presence by dissecting every angle while others rely on the nightcap of the roundtable — and the ratings that tip over as the debate reaches the right tempo — thanks to the pundit who doesn’t believe that having a White supremacist as president is responsible for dishonorable men in uniform.
It’s a circular vibe that will maintain the journey to nowhere as we continue to bear witness to a national crisis that has settled into a disturbingly verified blueprint of existence.
The disorderly conduct by those who swore to uphold the law is granted free will because Black lives are at stake. And it looks like that’s exactly the way we want it — and that reality is my punishment.
The question is — when will those accused — get theirs?