It is painfully apparent that there is a subculture of law enforcement whose actions and character resemble the 21st Century Edition of the Klu Klux Klan. Thanks to social media, the world is becoming aware of cases where police officers are assaulting and arresting black and brown individuals for little other reason than asserting their power, “failure to comply” or because “they fit the description”. Meanwhile, there are citizens that support this bigotry through ignorance, bitterness, and/or blatant hatred.
It’s no secret that white supremacist leaders have encouraged its members to infiltrate law enforcement, as well as routinely recruited law enforcement representatives; the FBI published a report on it in 2006 that (as TheGrio.com pointed out) has nearly been forgotten.
It’s also no secret that the amount of “patriot groups” in America rose 813% between 2008 and 2012 (the years of President Obama’s first term). Hatred runs so deep for some people, an infant died this past week because its father demanded “no n***er nurses” and physically removed the one qualified nurse that could have saved his child just because she is black.
Just like it wasn’t all white people in the Jim Crow days, not every non-POC subscribes to this twisted mentality. However, to just put it bluntly, the men in white hoods have been replaced by men in blue uniforms.
Crisis at Mizzou
The escalation that resulted in the resignation of University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe began after a protest against the school’s history of racism during the homecoming parade became violent. Wolfe remained silent on the situation for nearly a month while a petition calling for his removal was started. After a student announced a hunger strike, an apology statement was released. One day later, black members of the Mizzou football team announced their strike until Wolfe resigned. With the football team being a huge financial and media draw for the school, Wolfe stepped down two days later.
In the days following Wolfe’s resignation, racist groups have been driving through the campus and terrorizing black students, while other black students have been evacuating/avoiding the campus entirely after several death threats were posted online.
It has been reported that the perpetrator of the online threats has been arrested, but it doesn’t come close to explaining the other occurrences of harassment. In addition, many other people have been dismissing the concerns of the Mizzou black student body on social media.
While a college president resigning may not appear to be much of an issue, this particular case challenges the status quo of the systemic racism that white supremacist groups fight so hard to maintain. It’s “empty threats” like these by white supremacists that resulted in tragedies such as the destruction of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, OK and the murder of Emmitt Till.
— Evan (@TwoSeamGripe) November 11, 2015
The Spring Valley High incident
Officer Ben Fields, also known as “Officer Slam” by the Spring Valley students, brutally assaulted a black female student for “non-compliance”. then pulled the “I’m not racist; I have a black girlfriend” card.
— AJ+ (@ajplus) October 27, 2015
The victim and a witness were immediately arrested and charged with “disturbing schools”, while it took three videos of the incident to go viral in addition to pressure from civil rights activists to get Fields put on leave, then eventually fired.
Just like Klan members would hide behind their masks, New Klux Klan members hide behind excuses like “I don’t see color” or “one of my best friends is black”. Having black friends doesn’t mean that you empathize or understand what people of color go through every day in America, and it certainly doesn’t excuse or absolve your racism.
Black councilman tasered and arrested outside his home
Black council member Jonathan Miller was stunned with a taser while on his knees and then arrested outside of his home in Prairie View, TX: the same city that Sandra Bland was arrested (and found dead in jail three days later). Miller was charged with interfering with public duties and resisting arrest. The proof, however, shows a different story.
The KKK would historically pull people out of their homes at night and assault them; in many cases the victims would be lynched, and the perpetrators were rarely punished. Just like the purpose of the white masks, these crimes were done at night to shield them from the world.
It’s not hard to see the similarities here, especially in Texas.
Officers tried to detain an Alabama man for #JoggingWhileBlack.
Corey Dickerson was out jogging in Talladega, AL early one morning when he was stopped by police because “a black man jogging at night is suspicious.”
I don’t even have to explain this one.
What’d We Learn?
The proof is in the pudding, and it takes a bit of effort to ignore the reality: racism is just as alive and well as it was in the Jim Crow era and generations before; it just has a different uniform. Just because our president is a black man doesn’t mean racism just disappeared: Prairie View, TX has a black mayor and the black councilman was still assaulted by the town’s law enforcement.
Of course, there are still a hefty chunk of Americans who can’t comprehend this basic concept.
I personally know many great cops, and I salute them for their service. However, I also know crooked cops such as Joe Gliniewicz, who committed heinous acts then staged his suicide to look like murder. What is interesting about that particular case is that his death was immediately blamed on the #BlackLivesMatter movement, while millions of tax dollars and months of police time were spent investigating what ultimately was found to be a suicide.
Racism cannot be cured overnight. At the same time, it cannot be cured unless we drag it into the light. The methods may be messy, but just like the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”