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Black Officers Charged in Freddie Gray Death Should Alter Narrative

by Todd A. Smith

 

Does Abuse of Power Know Race?

 

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter can tell one a lot about their friends and colleagues.

 

When news of the death of Freddie Gray turned to violent rioting in the streets of Baltimore, many of my African-American associates all but declared racial upheaval on their White counterparts to avenge Gray’s death.

 

Many condoned the destruction of other people’s property and prophesied a revolution to fight back against racism and police brutality.

 

Likewise, many of my White acquaintances seemed unsympathetic towards Gray’s death.

 

Unfortunately for those condoning the violence and speaking out against the White cops who killed Gray, the arrests of the six officers showed that half of those arrested were African-American.

 

The six officers charged include Caesar Goodson, Jr., William Porter, Brian Rice, Alicia White, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller.

 

Goodson, Porter and White are African-American, while Rice, Nero and Miller are White.

 

I definitely would never say that racism does not play a role in much of the police brutality inflicted against African-Americans, but turning every instance of police brutality into an excuse for racial animosity against people of another race misses the point.

 

Many things probably cause police brutality like race, abuse of power, improper training and bluntly giving a gun to some officers who should have never graduated from the police academy.

 

What many in the African-American community do not realize is just because someone is White, Hispanic, Asian, Native American or a police officer does not make that person our adversary.

 

And just because a person is African-American does not make him or her your ally, “brother” or “sister.”

 

Like all African-American men, I have been profiled and harassed by White officers.

 

I often speak of a White officer who questioned me about break-ins in my neighborhood when I was 13 years old.

 

He told me that he questioned anyone who looked suspicious.  I guess his idea of suspicious was a lanky nerd with braces and glasses dribbling a basketball.

 

However, I fail to tell people of the time I was harassed by an African-American police officer while working as a professor at Texas Southern University.  And how his White colleague had to come to my defense.

 

One of my White colleagues recently told me about an African-American officer who gives her a speeding ticket practically every week in Humble, Texas.

 

She believes he does that for the bonuses he may receive and the fact that she drives an Infiniti.  Some police officers might believe that someone driving a luxury vehicle can afford a few traffic tickets.

 

What that tells me is that not every tragedy that happens in the African-American community is only because of race and that many of our lighter brethren have similar experiences with cops, even with some African-American cops.

 

 

So the next time we think about starting a revolution against our enemies remember that our real enemies sometimes look like us.  And the racial upheaval some envision might often be an intra-racial battle and not an interracial one.

This article was published on Friday 08 May, 2015.
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