This Is All We Have Been Asking For

Mainstream America, this is all that Black America has wanted for decades or even longer.

People know that police officers have a hard job.

Their job is to hold the public accountable and arrest those who break the law.

Unfortunately, that often becomes dangerous.

But all Black America has asked for is for police to hold their brethren accountable like they hold us accountable if they break the law.

All people want is for good police officers to call out bad police officers.

If cops did that on a regular basis, police misconduct and police brutality might decrease.

Thankfully, the Derek Chauvin trial about the death of George Floyd has shown police officers holding a former officer accountable for his misdeeds.

And that by itself is encouraging and a great way for relationships between law enforcement officials and the Black community to grow stronger and more trusting.

Like it or not, to many Black Americans police officers often represent the enemy and the problem, not the solution.

Many Black Americans do not have stories of police officers swooping in to save the day.

Many Black Americans do not have stories of police officers protecting and serving their communities.

Unfortunately, many Black Americans have stories of police officers abusing their authority and creating more problems than they solve.

Honestly, many Black Americans have that prejudice or stereotype about police officers because many times their encounters with cops make them feel less than human and unsafe.

Some cops for no reason at all have harassed many Black Americans.

Some cops have harassed Black Americans when they have moved into nice neighborhoods.

Some cops have harassed Black Americans for driving fancy cars.

Some cops have shown up at the scene and treated Black Americans like criminals because some White American called 911 on Black people, including young children, for barbecuing in the park, selling lemonade or playing basketball in their own driveways.

And if a Black person blinked their eyes too many times, they sometimes got beaten or even killed by officers who only have to say they felt their lives were endangered by this dangerous and violent Black person to go unpunished.

Often, other cops rally around that officer like they are condoning murder and assault.

And then those same cops wonder why people of color do not trust many of them or even respect the profession.

But during the Chauvin trial, Minneapolis police officers have totally changed many people’s minds when it comes to how police officers view the people that they serve.

Even before the Chauvin trial, when a reporter asked Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo what he would tell Chauvin if he was alone with him in room, Arradondo replied that he would not be alone in a room with the former police officer.

At the Chauvin trial, Arradondo criticized Chauvin’s use of force in detaining Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods convenient store in Minneapolis.

Arradondo said, “Once Mr. Floyd stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize it, that should have stopped. 

“There is an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds. But once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back—that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

Arradondo said that kneeling on a person’s neck for over nine minutes was a violation of de-escalation policies, objectively reasonable use of force and requirement to render aid.

The police chief said, “That action is not de-escalation, and when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about the principles and values we have, that action goes contrary to what we’re talking about.”

Lt. Johnny Mercil, a Minneapolis police force veteran, Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner and use-of-force expert, also testified that Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd was not a method taught to him or the Minneapolis Police Department.

However, Mercil admitted that using a knee on a person’s neck as a restraint “isn’t unauthorized.”

But Mercil said officers are instructed to avoid putting force on the neck, and “put it on their shoulder and be mindful of the position.”

With all of the damning testimony coming from police officers, it would be a shocker to see Chauvin exonerated in the death of Floyd, which is priority number one.

The entire Chauvin case is about getting justice in the unnecessary death of Floyd.

But this secondary victory is greatly appreciated as well.

For too long, police departments acted much like the street organizations and street people that they put their lives on the line everyday to bring down.

Snitching was looked down upon in the police department even if an officer did something egregious.

A brotherhood and sisterhood existed within police departments that made it seem like many had more interest in protecting themselves and their image than protecting the taxpaying citizens who paid their salaries.

Now thanks to many in the Minneapolis Police Department, a new day might be upon us.

Simply telling the truth and caring about people like Floyd will go a long way in restoring faith in police officers.

It is just too bad that so many, like Floyd, had to lose their lives for us to get to this point.

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