There is a new general in town and his name is Jefferson “Jeff” Sessions. As long as he, his high commander Donald John Trump and their law enforcement cowboys are calling the shots, we should be vigilant and prepared for the worst.
Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, tried to warn America through her letter to Congress in 1984 that Sessions’ racialized actions as Alabama’s US State Attorney made him unfit to serve in a high federal office. At that time, Sessions was vying for an appointment to serve as a federal judge, an effort that failed. She described the white Southerner as abusive, stating that he “used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate” blacks fighting for voting rights and attempting to cast ballots. She also stated that Sessions was “hostile,” and sinister. Sessions, she said, lacked “temperament, fairness and judgment” and should not be trusted. Her letter was entered into the record in 2017 during Session’s confirmation hearings for U.S. Attorney General.
David Cole, National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union also accused Sessions of being “abusive” in his use of law enforcement power as the Alabama US Attorney.
Sessions denied all of the accusations that painted him as abusive and racist and declared that he would honorably serve as US Attorney, where he would be charged with ensuring the Department of Justice fulfilled its mission to: “ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
Nevertheless, if King, Scott and others who have condemned Sessions are correct, then Sessions is a racist. I wonder whether he is representative of law enforcement as a whole. Does he represent the majority of law enforcers? Are his racial biases shared by most rank and file law enforcers across the country? How many of the nation’s cops have some of Session’s racial cancer in their brains? Who can knows? Perhaps police departments should do a racism brain scan on all current cops and future recruits. Then we would know. Oh, if that were possible!
What we do know is that in this two-way mixed war, racially-biased cops whose acts of brutality are said to be mere drops in the law enforcement bucket, a few bad apples here and there.
In fact, you can bet that the next time you hear of a cop being exposed for immoral conduct or abusive behavior, you will also soon afterwards here knee jerk official statements by police officials and politicians attempting to reassure the public that there is no reason to lose faith in police officers.
Such statements have become rather trite. You already know them, but for the record, here they are “Most officers are good … There are only a few bad cops.”
No one ever offers any proof that there are only a few bad cops on police forces across the country. We are expected to assume this to be true.
If you believe there are only a few bad cops, I ask you, can you prove it? Maybe you can. Most likely, you cannot. Keep ever in mind that on any given day, a good cop can be on his best behavior among whites and on his worst behavior among blacks. This complicates things doesn’t it? Reminds me of a Michael Jackson lyric: “Who’s Bad?” Truly, when it comes to police officers, you never really know who’s good or bad. It all depends. Just ask your average black person.
Generally speaking, black people, based on their personal experience and third-party knowledge, know that there are more than a few bad actors patrolling the highways and byways of this country. They know that racial profiling and police abuse are commonplace. XXX black people filed suits against law enforcers in 2015. In total, XXX police departments threw XXX million dollars at them through settlements and told them to take the money and go away. These lucrative agreements caused black complainants to retreat—to withdraw their suits, pocket the cash and keep their mouths closed about the bad cops who crossed their paths and caused them physical and psychological scars. Such high numbers of complainants and such huge settlements run counter to the argument that there are only a few bad apples in the bunch of American law enforcers.
“A few bad apples can ruin the bunch.” Isn’t this what we have been taught since childhood? And haven’t we witnessed that a few bad kids can ruin a classroom? A few missed loan payments can ruin your credit. Oh, you ask, “What does a credit rating have to do with this? Is that a valid analogy?
Well, maybe not to you, but millions of black people know what I am saying. A few bad cops, if that be the case, have made blacks lose trust in policing altogether. Vicious “law and order” attacks by “a few cops” have lowered the credit rating of law enforcers in the black community.
Cops like Lt. Greg Abbott, a Georgia police officer, who in 2016 was recorded telling a white person that “Remember, we only shoot black people … Yeah. We only kill black people, right?” This candid remark, intended to be shared as a secret between two white people, reveals the mindset that blacks have come expect police to have.
Some of the information presented in this chapter has been discussed by others. Though I hopefully have added some new insight or some new and a fresh presentation of the facts, this book was not written to rehash facts and analysis about my country’s law enforcement madness. This book is intended to focus on what black men can do to stop the madness—not study it. To that end, let’s march forward.