I am probably one of few people in America who has not seen the George Floyd video. Furthermore, I do not have any plans to watch it, nor the brutal beating of Tyre Nichols, the next saga of “Wicked Policing: The American Tragedy.”
It is hard for me to stomach violence in movies, let alone in real life. To witness violence with my own eyes—knowing that it is reality and not fiction, pierces my heart and mind in ways that I cannot fully express…
The ever-present violence against Black people and the continuous promotion and replay of this brutality exemplify the wickedness of white supremacy in America.
Charles M. Blow’s Instagram post summed it up perfectly,
The spectacle of a televised countdown to the showing of the video in which Tyre Nichols was savagely beaten by Memphis police officers doesn’t just theatricalize Black death; it is a damning indictment of American perversion.“
Although many point to the recorded beating of Rodney King in 1992 as the national recognition of police brutality, police brutality against Black people didn’t start there. The assault, however, marked a pivotal moment in bringing police brutality into the national consciousness. Yet, over 30 years later, “The issue is not getting better, it is getting taped!”
Police brutality against African Americans, particularly men, as well as other people of color is real. It occurs everywhere and affects all Black people. No Black person is immune. In fact, a Black person does not have to be poor and/or live in the urban ghettos to be victim of police misconduct.
In my own family my little brother Cecil was often victimized by police. Police in metro-Atlanta stopped Cecil in the evenings at least twice per week on his way home from college marching band practice for years! I was in the car on two of these episodes. In addition to the consistent experiences in metro-Atlanta, upon entering the city of Miami for vacation, Little Cecil was accosted and held for over two hours by police, who accused him of robbing a local store, because “He fit the description,” yet he had just arrived in the city! What description you might ask? The description of a Black man!
My cousin, who lives in a rural Texas town, has also shared his personal experience with police,
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… “ALLLLL” the guns ive (sic) had pointed at me in my lifetime, a cop was the one holding it… I’ve “NEVER” been to the principles office, but for some reason they felt threatened…. that first time, 17 or 18 years old, had 5 guns pointed at my head and I didn’t even know what the hell was going on… one officer flagged me down when I was driving by, another walked on my passenger side and within seconds, yelled out GUN!!! Within seconds, 5 guns pointed at me…. I mean, before yawl shoot me, can yawl at least tell me why yawl flagged me down!?!?!?!? If someone ever wants to truly scare me… get in a patrol car, get behind me and turn those lights on… I immediately began to shake, asking myself if I’m about to die…. #you just don’t understand… it’s sad that my parents had to teach me at a young age how to survive when pulled over by the police…. unless you’re a Black male, you’ll NEVER understand…”
Mind you, the members of my family are educated, middle-class, law-abiding, professionals. Even these facts do not protect African Americans from the realities of racialized policing. Having grown up in a small town, we know that African Americans in rural areas are victims of police misconduct as well.
Notably, the taped incidents of police terrorizing African Americans are the ones that we know undeniably occurred. Most incidents don’t have documentation. Considering this fact, just imagine how many other episodes exist!
America has a long history of the police targeting and brutalizing the Black community. The idea that Black people are inherently violent and that Black lives are expendable drives the engine. Racialized policing has terrorized the Black community for years, evidenced by the fact that the issue of police misconduct and brutality has been on the agenda of Black civil rights and social justice organizations since the early 20th century.
The reality of unscrupulous police in forces throughout America is persistent and widespread. A culture of white supremacy and racialized violence perpetuated on Black and Brown communities permeates the ranks. In fact, in its 2006 report “White Supremacist Infiltration of Law Enforcement,” the FBI reported that the presence of white supremacists within law enforcement was so prevalent that is was pervasive. Although all five police officers who brutalized and murdered Tyre Nichols were African American, their pathological behavior is a result of white supremacy.
In the Tyre Nichols Press Conference on Friday, January 27, 2023, RowVaughn Wells, the mother of Tyre Nichols, stated that her son always said he would be famous, although she was certain that this was not what he imagined…
Despite the immense pain of this type of fame, like Emmitt Till, Tyre’s life does have meaning.
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.”
As Americans we all have the responsibility to play our role and do our part in writing the final chapter of “Wicked Policing,” so that we may bring this diabolical saga to “The End.”
What will you do?