However, we diagnose the tension between the police and the’ subset’ of the citizenry, the facts- even when we are correct- cannot get us to the justice we are seeking.
In fact, to offer a reason for the harassment is to invite denial, or worse, a claim of prejudicing the case such that the accused cannot get a fair trial. In other words, a rational discourse is stillborn in favor of the status quo.
Consider this: If Nathan had confronted King David with the ‘facts’ of Uriah’s fate and David’s involvement, we would have an example of the messenger being killed or some other justification, perhaps of Uriah consenting to be a decoy. Hostile confrontations are inefficient.
We are not delusional or paranoid about customized outcomes with the police here or in Jamaica, where class and money are the lines of demarcation rather than race. However, absent an imaginative strategy to engage the police and change the “guilty until proven innocent” mindset that seems to be the modus operandi of the police, we will be bemoaning the preventable.
To win any battle one has to understand how the enemy thinks and what excites his sense of righteous indignation. Nathan lured David into a baited trap. Dr. Martin Luther King used the images of savagery being committed by the state against nonviolent folks to appeal to the conscience of a nation. We must be mindful that absent the public images of misconduct that were routinely dismissed as overzealousness or fabrication, this nation, and others steeped in avoidance, would continue to turn a blind eye.
The struggle is not for the police to admit that their policy is to marginalize a ‘subset’, but to frame the arguments in a way that the police cannot deny that ‘policing as currently practiced: the broken window/ taillight prosecution is detrimental to the law and order that the community demands.
Prosecuting Broken Windows gives diminishing returns, but more importantly it transform the police as a tool for the people, to a jack-booted antagonist, at which point policing fails since its acting against its constituents.
I can do more for my community and for safety to fix a tail light with a courtesy stop by the police than to be harassed by the same cop to pay a ticket for the same tail light and placed on a potential prison conveyor belt. What exactly, in God’s name then is the reason for the police to be used in such a wasteful fashion?
Mississippi is a manufacturing giant today. Left to their own designs, they would be slower to embrace integration and its opportunities, access to more markets being one of them.
In understanding how a person thinks or police, we become empowered to reorder the status quo. The more perfect union that we seek is also going to require that we commit to excellence. Part of the mindset of the ‘ other subset’ is that our propensity to be “less than noble” is thinly veiled. Call it bigotry, if you will, but we have to challenge that ill-fitting label with deeds, not words.
As is, policing is a destabilizing force in our communities. The challenge is to get these noble men of blue to see that they are putting their neighborhood at risk by following a flawed and failing model of policing.
Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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