There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the United States without an opinion on the recent events involving police violence against black men. But I have growing concerns with the emerging narrative which paints the police as innocent (and powerless) victims of undue societal backlash. It is critical we understand that this is not, nor has ever been, the dynamic between the police and the general population, and it certainly has never been the dynamic between the police and people of color.
Often when the police are accused of misconduct, any investigation into the matter is the shrouded in mystery, with discipline and reprimand happening behind the closed doors of precinct offices and within police department hierarchies. This means that people die at the hands of the police, and we are left with doubts about whether or not those deaths were justified. But one thing is clear: In the conflicts that ensue between police and citizens (some unarmed), the police are the ones with both the guns, the trust of the public, and the preference of the law on their side. Here is an excerpt from the NYT article about the Darren Wilson case that makes this point: (more…)