You hear what he said, how chilling it was? The diabolical nature of his certitude? The confusion on her face, and then, the realization that he is not seeing her? Trapped, captive, she realizes that she has all-but-nothing to do with this. It’s what she looks like, and how that makes him feel, that got her captured in this way. She was arrested for his feelings.
“Violent tendencies,” he said. “I want you to think about that. I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying that it’s true. I’m not saying that I can prove it or nothing. But 99 percent of the time when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that’s being violent. That’s why the white community are afraid… and I don’t blame them.”
And I hear this sort of sentiment *all the time* in white rooms, indignant white people, white cops, white security. I’m calling you out. This sort of thinking is a problem.
The Austin police chief promptly apologized publicly and profusely to the victim and ordered an administrative investigation into the details of the stop. That’s not the problem. Actually, that’s fantastic. That’s a way we can move forward. And much forward movement needs to be done.
Let’s go down this, line by line. The remark was made as part of a discussion on race, and the officer begins: “I think a lot of people are afraid of black people.” He rephrases it, rhetorically. “Why are so many people afraid of black people?”
“That’s what I want to figure out,” Breaion replies. “Because I’m not a bad black person.”
“I can give you a really good idea why it might be that way.”
“Violent tendencies.” Stated as a fact, with no evidence or elaboration, about all black people.
“I want you to think about that. I’m not saying anything, I’m not saying that it’s true.” But you believe it’s true.
“I’m not saying that I can prove it or nothing.” You believe it is true, and you wish it could be proven. You know it for a fact in your heart, and that’s good enough.
“But 99 percent of the time when you hear about stuff like that, it is the black community that’s being violent.” Shockingly, insanely untrue. What is “stuff like that”? Is it acts of violence? Ninety-nine percent of acts of violence are the work of the black community? You said this.
“That’s why the white community are afraid… and I don’t blame them.” Because I agree.
You say no cop gets up and wants to go commit race violence. You say no cop wakes up and wants to kill. My father was a cop. I agree with you. That’s not the problem. The problem is all of the people who think exactly the same as this guy here. The people who enforce laws selectively, with selective degrees of force, against threats as they perceive them. No cop gets up in the morning and wants to kill—they just want to go to work, do their job, come home safe. Some people see the world a certain way, and until that kind of thinking can be trained out of them, they will see it on the job. They’ll incorporate their racism into their work. They will keep their communities safe, well-intentioned, satisfying their definition of safety. They’re not bad people. They’re not trying to hurt anybody.
But they are.
And they must stop.
It’s very hard to bite my tongue about this sort of thing.
Violent tendencies. I want you to think about that.
Video Credit: New York Times