December 14, 2014 |
ABSW Black Lives Matter Article
In the wake of the turmoil, occurring across America and the world because of the number of deaths of African Americans and Hispanics, who have not committed a serious crime or no crime at all, at the hands of white police officer, we must examine our understandings and decide what are our next steps. Is it appropriate for the status quo to remain and pray that the disgruntledness will blow over? Is it appropriate to decide it is not your issue, if you are not an African American or a police officer? Is it appropriate to determine that you love America and that means to you to support your local police officers because of the dangerous jobs they perform in society and you have never had a bad experience with law enforcement? In fact, if you had a glorious experience with law enforcement or have a relative that serves as a police officer are they always correct because you haven’t been mistreated or cousin Tommy is a wonderful guy? What can white American progressives do, who understand Ferguson and the constitutional problem of street executions of Black Males and Hispanics?
First, this issue will not dissipate and it will continue until effective changes occur within the law enforcement and criminal justice system. Many in Ferguson thought this anger would subside with the oncoming of the winter months. However, the demonstrations continue and America is being exposed around the world as a contradiction to its Constitutional claims of justice and liberty for all. But why does America have such a gap in its understanding of the issue and is it something fro which to be alarmed?
The ongoing assault upon African Americans and Hispanics is reaching a level of alarm to many in America and to the majority in the African American and Hispanic communities. When one searches for data on the subject no accurate data exists because law enforcement is not mandated to report on the number of deaths of African Americans and Hispanics caused by white police officers. “Officer Involved Shootings” the nomenclature used by law enforcement, are reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on a voluntary basis, which is an injustice within itself. Is it that African and Hispanic Americans are not important enough to demand that all police agencies give an accurate count, or it is advantageous not to keep such statistics or is it a statistic that a racists system desires to obfuscate? Nevertheless, what is the African and Hispanic American perspective?
In the African American community it isn’t a murky issue. The fact that rogue police will kill African and Hispanic Americans is the norm and it is discussed at every African and Hispanic American table, church, and within their professional groups that white police officers will kill you for being black or Hispanic. African American and Hispanics tell their children that their non- criminal, constitutional protected actions will cause a white police officer to use deadly force. African Americans and Hispanics know that white officers will kill you because of their fear or their presumptions they have in their heads; and the judicial system will deem it justifiable homicide. African and Hispanic Americans can cite you case after case of African Americans and Hispanics shot down in the streets, by rogue police officers for minor stops, or where no illegal behavior had occurred or where some misdemeanor occurred or even the outrageous allegation of African Americans committing suicide, while handcuffed and in the custody of the police, (for a full list of cases within the past 15 years see http://gawker.com/unarmed-people-of-color-killed-by-police-1999-2014-1666672349).
It is understandable, however unacceptable for whites who never come in contact with African or Hispanic Americans, or for those who experience diversity through television programs like ‘Blackish” to deny what African Americans and Hispanics are protesting across the world when protesters say, ‘Black Lives Matter.” Yes all lives matter, but all lives are not being wasted at the alarming rate they are being slaughtered by white rogue police officers. Nevertheless, why is white America in disagreement?
Look closely at specious contradictory arguments, being offered in regards to the protesting, which are offered to obfuscate the issue of Rogue Police Officers (primarily White Officers) publically executing African and Hispanics Americans, who are not engaged in any criminal behavior. They state Police kill more Whites than Blacks. This is true, but the White population is six times greater than the Black population in the United States. Secondly, they purport that police are the servants of the Black Community, which is true. However, the 3 to 8 percent of the “Rogue Police” officers, who are the cause of the street executions of African Americans and Hispanics, are not servants, but terrorize the African American and Hispanic Communities. Lastly, they raise the question of Black on Black homicides. This also is a false equivalency and has no relations to the constitutionally protected rights that are being nullified by these “Rogue Police” Officers. Black on Black crime is a scourge; however, the entire African American community, within the U.S., is not directly affected or threatened by Black on Black crime. Contrastingly, nor does white on white homicides directly affect or nullified their constitutionally protected 4th Amendment rights to due process, within the U.S. Additionally, it is a statistical fact the majority of whites homicides in America are committed by other whites. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Statistics, November 2011, NCJ 236018 reported that whites killed 84% of white victims; and 93% of black victims were killed by blacks. Also homicides, such as, in Columbine, where two senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered 12 students and one teacher, or in Aurora, CO, during the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, where 24-year-old James Holmes killed 12 people and wounded 58, or the Newtown, Conn, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children and 6 adult staff members these heinous acts were disgusting, but they did not adversely affect the constitutionally protected rights of whites in the U.S. However, when these “Rogue Officers” violate “due process and indiscriminately kill African American and Hispanics the entire 32 million African Americans are 40 million Hispanics are terrorized by the thought of “Rogue Police”, agents of the government, who can nullify the constitutional rights of African American Hispanics citizens. Invariably, the call for training is offered.
Yes, on-going and high quality training is important; however, training isn’t the cure for this phenomenon. I saw a photo of NYPD officers, at a funeral turning their backs on Mayor Deblasio, the Mayor of New York. This should send a shock wave through all who love democracy. Police Officers have the right to free speech, but not on duty, in the department's uniform and at an officially sanctioned event. It is the kind of insubordination, which in foreign countries coups are developed. It's also the terror of being "liked" by NYPD and all other police agencies. It is what police agencies and unions use to control they, who should be, by law, controlling them. It is an effective tactic being done and marketed all over America, which goes as follows: If you want the police department's rank and file, unions and union leadership to like Mayors, City Administrations, councils, then Mayors, City Administrators and councils ought to refrain from critiquing, criticizing, disciplining or saying "no" to their salary demands. If Mayors, City Administrators and councils do criticize the police's behavior and their union leadership the police through their union leadership accuse the Mayors, City Administrators and council of cop-bashing or disliking law enforcement. Consequently, when politicians and police administrative academics speak on police reform they focus on training, as if, current police training is not currently at its very best. From New York's John Jay College of Criminal Justice to California's Police Officer Standards and Training academic curriculum has been developed and vetted. Police Officers are given the best training is defensive tactics, criminal investigations, hate crime investigation, harassment at the work place, crowd management, evidence recovery, and diversity issues, etc. So, it isn't training that is lacking it is the political will to hold rogue police officers accountable to what is already established as acceptable standards and policy. Therefore, no NYPD officer is deemed negligent in the choking death of Eric Garner, by using NYPD outlawed arrest tactics: the "choke hold" and "piling on" tactic. It is so sad because those who criticize and demand accountability of the police are often made up of people, who care about professional, constitutional and community policing and want the police adhere to their oath of office. Consequently what strategies can be employed to rectify this phenomenon?
The following strategies must be employed to your constituencies, congregations and public officials:
· First, understand, promote and join us in the awareness that no other struggle supersedes the struggle for justice, and in demanding the cessation of street executions of Black and Brown women and men by “Rogue” White Male police officers.
· Second, understand, promote and join us in believing and supporting people of color when they make complaints against abusive and “Rogue Officers.” Of course, each officer who is subject of a complaint must have due process. However, I am speaking of eradicating the psychological pretext that seems to be imbedded in the White community that people of color are always lying and that every officer is always telling the truth and innocent in their actions.
· Third, understand, promote and join us in the fact that we make a distinction between righteous, constitutionally responsible officers - which the vast majority are - and the Rogue Officers and their supporters, who commit street execution under the rubric of “doing their job” and specious explanations of “being afraid for their lives”. The 2 to 3 percent are the "Rogue Officers" must be eliminated from the responsibility of policing America. They are the ones who perpetuate injustice across America. We must learn to make the distinction and insist that police and municipal governments discipline Rogue Officers, up to and including termination and criminal and civil prosecution, and hold accountable all governmental agencies not to hire these miscreant ex-officers.
· Fourth, understand, promote and join us in demanding that all United States police agencies make mandatory reports of violent incident data to the Department of Justice of all Officer Involved Shootings (OIS), including when an officer is injured and when a suspect or any person is injured or killed. The data must be analyzed and agencies needing reform must be engaged in the “consent decree” process, monitored by Federal courts.
· Fifth, you must educate your constituencies and congregations on what is the purpose of a grand jury, and how does the jury process work. According to Justice Antonin Scalia, who explained the function of the grand jury in United States v. Williams: “It is the grand jury's function not 'to enquire…upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,' or otherwise to try the suspect's defenses, but only to examine 'upon what foundation [the charge] is made' by the prosecutor. As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.” Therefore, the use of the grand jury process in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and others, is a strategy to thwart justice for Black, Brown and poor people. We ask that you expose this misuse and advocate for the removal by disciplinary action or ballot box, of District Attorneys who do this.
· Sixth, you can join us in the demand that the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney General have jurisdiction over OIS, where a death has occurred and an Officer is responsible. District Attorneys are incapable of meting out justice because of their inherent institutional bias from the fact they hold elective office, and their required collegiality with police departments and police associations (unions).
· Seventh, you can join us in the demand for the hiring of people of color by all police agencies and especially where those agencies have jurisdiction over communities predominately of color. This must include the overhaul of the recruiting, hiring, and training processes, which in many cases is biased and automatically rejects people of color based on institutional racism issues (such as “bad” credit). Additionally, officers should receive training from academics that are people of color. Screening should be established in every police agency before and after hiring, to uncover racial animus and attempt to ameliorate it prior to incidents motivated by the bias.
· Eighth, you can join us in the advocacy for the non-proliferation of machine guns that shoot multiple rounds, and magazines that hold more than seven rounds (and does not affect anyone seeking to own a shotgun or other hunting rifle as long as it does not use a multi round clip or barrel cartridge holder containing more than seven rounds). Additionally join us in the advocacy for the non-proliferation of toy replica guns that are sold to our children and may be confused as a real weapon creating the pretext to gun down children like Tamir Rice, in Cleveland, Ohio.
· Ninth, you can join us in advocating compliance when a police agency and municipality submits to a negotiated settlement agreement - NSA - after a court decision of their violation of the civil rights of their constituents, and that federal funds are withheld until affirmative progress is made for any agency and/or municipality that uses any strategy to stall the implementation reform.
· Tenth, understand, promote and join us in creating space for dialogs on all levels around race and justice…and cease promoting the failed assumption that the United States of America is “post-racial”, because It is not.
Reginald W. Lyles, Jr.
M.CAL, American Baptist Seminary of the West
Deacon, Allen Temple Baptist Church
Senior Advisor for Public Safety to Oakland Mayor Jean Quan
Career Police Officer, Retired
Reginald W. Lyles
"Only he/she who believes is obedient and only he/she who is obedient believes."
Copyright 2014, Reginald W. Lyles, Jr.