The War Between Police & Poor Black Communities
On Saturday September 12, 2020, two police officers were senselessly shot while sitting in their patrol car “without warning or provocation,” authorities said.
Our deepest prayers go out to the officers that were targeted in this gross act of violence. We’re praying that the Lord would bring them both to full and complete recovery. We are also praying that the perpetrator of this violent act be swiftly brought to justice.
With that being said, I can’t ignore the seemingly instant partisanship of this issue and how immediately one party turns to blaming the Black Lives Matter movement which is clearly unrelated, and the other party turns to blaming the police culture, which is also unrelated. The truth of the matter is an issue that most people don’t care to talk about because it’s complicated… Very Complicated.
How did we get here?
There has been hostility between the black community and the police that dates back to at least the 1970’s. Policies like the war on drugs literally became the war on poor black people. Other policies like the 1968 Terry v. Ohio case that legalized “stop and frisk," allowed police to legally terrorize black communities, unchecked, in vile and dehumanizing manners.
These extreme and unnecessary policies created a deep division between the community and the police. Police were trained to be more hostile in black communities than they would rationally be in other communities, blacks were indoctrinated in hatred of the police because of the often unchecked, violent nature of police culture that the black community had come to know as normal.
What makes this even more complicated is the “frenemy” relationship that the community and the police were forced to have. It was technically the job of the police to protect the community, and the community technically needed the police to keep them safe from criminals. So basically, everyone had to sleep with one eye open… So to speak.
Over time, this became a silent war. A war the rest of America was completely oblivious to. Police were free to pull over blacks simply because their color made them seem “suspicious." They were able to harass, belittle, and dehumanize mostly black men on the side of the road, simply because the law allowed for that. Those harassing stops were never called in, never reported, and never accounted for. If police had quotas to reach, as they often did, it is well documented that police would intentionally visit black communities to reach those quotas. This was not only terrorizing to the black community, but created uneven and unrealistic statistics. It also made blacks seem more prone to criminality, at least on paper.
Oh, and did I mention that this worked simultaneously with the media's war on the black community? That part too. The media, to a degree of success, had written the story that most blacks were heartless, violent, sex addicted, drug dealing thugs. Believe it or not, this worked in ostracizing blacks from any other normal American.
This continued for decades.
In 1988 a rap group named NWA released a song called “F*** Da Police," which brought light to the war that was happening inside of poor black communities across America. For those who didn’t understand, this was just some of those black thugs who hated the police and supported criminal behavior. For those who did understand, it was the voice of the people. Coincidentally, it also encouraged violence against police, particularly in Compton. While that outcome was certainly unintentional to a few guys with some musical talent, it was the reality of what happened culturally.
What do we do now?
Let’s start here. Poor black communities have a valid and legitimate reason to dislike and distrust police. It is engraved in the very fabric of black culture, and it goes back generations. In contrast, police have a legitimate reason to distrust the black community. I mean, Ice-T wrote a song called “Cop Killer,” where he depicted killing off police with a 12-gauge shot gun… So that probably didn’t help in the trust building department.
The truth is, this silent war all stemmed from EXTREMELY bad policy, not bad people. The policy as it pertains to policing in the black community, has been bad on both the Democrat and Republican side.
Imagine this… The same people who created the policies of this horrific culture are the ones who are making it seem like you have to “pick sides." Either you’re on the side of the police, or you’re on the side of the community. Every time an act of police brutality happens in the street and every time a police officer is attacked in some way, we can pretty much expect the toxic "war of black vs. blue" will also begin in the media. This is dumb. VERY dumb.
This is a war that we need to end. Period. No more blame games, no more name calling, no more picking sides, no more violence, no more terror, and no more “Cop Killer” songs. We need peace, love, and healing. We need “How can we help each other” community conversations with police. We need community volunteering with police. We need community policing from police. We need to end the culture of police aggression toward black communities, and we need to end the culture of black hatred toward police.
If we do that, then we’ll solve the problem. If we don’t, then we’ll keep watching a war that’s unwinnable for both sides. In war people die. The only way to stop death, is to create peace.
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." - Matthew 5:9