I don’t hate police officers. I’m afraid of them though. I’m not really what one would consider a minority, I’m a white female so I understand at least a little where I have privilege (though I’ll admit there is much I am ignorant of), but I am afraid of them still. I’ve seen how they can become destructive. Manipulative. I’ve had them knock on my door at 11pm demanding answers to questions very coldly about situations in my building (that I swore I knew nothing about because I was asleep and had a fan on, and heard nothing and still they questioned). I’ve had them pull over my sibling for having his “front headlight out” when his front headlights weren’t on, and then make threats of all the stuff he could do to get my brother in trouble (thankfully they were only threats and nothing bad happened, my brother got a verbal warning though). My neighbor was a cop. His neighbor was the chief of police. My parents talked to them both about the issues we endured. Both were sympathetic to the situation, and they were wonderful neighbors, but it did not quell my instilled fear.
I was learning to fear my neighbors.
I had my parents force me to watch a video on my rights when I was a teen and even a bunch of our teachers in my area began getting pulled over without reason and having unwarranted searches. They seemed to be targeting us teens mostly. Looking for reasons to pull us over. Looking for something, though we didn’t know what. Not even looking at all sometimes. Just pulling us over. Scaring us.
When I was in highschool it got so bad that someone in our area created a website where people could go to vent and tell stories about their unjust interactions with police in our area. My father would read it constantly after dinner. It was called hccopwatch.com and it was a forum to vent about the inappropriate conduct of the local law enforcement. He’d tell us the stories and we’d discuss them as a family. Try to find ways to avoid similar situations if we could. Empathize with those who had been mistreated. Brainstorm routes to school that might be longer, but would help us avoid cops and missing our classes for unwarranted pull-overs and searches.
People sent links to the forum to local politicians and leaders. Everyone knew about it. The news papers talked about it. Posts defending cops flooded the site. Abruptly people stopped posting in the forum. Simultaneously cops began being less intense. Their presence remained, but there were fewer pull-overs and less reports of “unprofessionalism”. I wondered how much of that was out of fear of talking about the cops on the site or even openly. I wondered if things had changed or if people were just struck silent about the issues in some way. I wondered if there had been any real change. Still, any time I go back to visit family and I see any cop, I white knuckle my stearing wheel a little. To be honest I do that for any cop now. The whole “protect and serve” thing feels like a joke after all that.
I distrust them, because I know they distrust me.
I don’t hate cops though. I don’t disrespect them. I just don’t ever want to have contact with them. I just don’t want to get pulled over by one. I just don’t want to be questioned by one. I avoid illegal activity because of these things. I avoid eye contact in the streets because of these things. Especially if the officer is a male, because as a woman, I have fears of my own to worry about in that situation.
It must be hard being a cop, because cops are people, and and it’s hard to be a person. You mess up because you’re messed up. It’s hard to be an upstanding citizen for the same reasons. I can empathize with both. Still, my heart aches. It aches out of a combination of fear and a outcry for justice I know will probably never come. Perhaps it is useless to have heart ache if nothing will change? I don’t know. I feel it needs expressing though.
I refuse to be a slacktivist though. I’m told I’m gifted with words so I’ve written my representatives, empowering them to legislate laws that protect citizens from police brutality and abuse. I have researched and tried to understand the problem and seek solutions. I have sought nonviolent actions I can take that will give me ideas for options I have to help causes. I will not just take to social media and post my outcry. Outcries and protests are not enough. They are not even the only options. Complaining will do nothing. Hashtags arent going to fix the problem alone. The world can speak all the truths and perspectives it had, but that will do nothing if they are not backed up with actions.
I’m not here to make political propaganda. I’m not here to call out cops and I’m not here to make sweeping and strong statements about police brutality. I wouldn’t degrade current events by saying what I endured was any form of “brutality.” I’m saying that I have been, and will be, afraid of the police, just as much as they are afraid of me. They have given me evidence to warrant that fear. That I empathize strongly with their opposition, while recognizing their lives are not lesser. I’m disgusted by the numbers. I’m sick of everybody senselessly killing each other. I also want to express that I recognize that I would not want to be an African American, that I recognize that they are being mistreated, and because of that realization, I recognize that I need to do something about it. The awareness now makes me a responsible party.