• author
    • Kelvin Wade

    • May 28, 2020 in Columnists

    I’m ready to show police black lives matter

    I’ve always respected police and the often thankless job they do to serve and protect. I’ve had friends in law enforcement and my brother is retired law enforcement. I hate even having to add that caveat to what you’re about to read. But I want you to know that this is deep for me. It’s complex. It’s difficult.

    As a large black man who has had a frightening run in with a rogue cop, I have this recurring nightmare. I’m stopped by police and despite me following all of the advice from the Talk there’s some misunderstanding and the stop goes sideways. My actions are misinterpreted as threatening. The police escalate. I’m fortunate only that I can awaken from the chaos.

    When I see horrific injustices like the murder of George Floyd, the man killed by a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on his neck for seven excruciating minutes while he said he couldn’t breathe, I get more than pissed. I get enraged. And it’s not because of my dream. It’s because I can see the face of my brother on the ground. Really. When I look at that George Floyd video I think, “What if that was my brother Scott under that cop’s knee?” When I see an incident like this I know that it can be any black man down on the ground. It could be me.

    I’m tired of saying, “Black lives matter” only to be answered with the ignorant reply, “All lives matter.” I’m tired of black men being counseled to be on eggshells, genuflecting in a way no white man has to when stopped by police. I’m tired of excuse after excuse.

    I’m tired of supposedly good cops adhering to the blue wall of silence and covering for bad cops and tired of the bad acts of supposed good cops. It’s not a problem of bad apples if the others won’t call them out.

    After seeing these horrible killings happen again and again with little to no accountability, we have to be ready to do something about it. And I’m not talking about yelling at police to find their humanity and do the right thing.

    The time of marches, mindless rioting and destruction, vigils and calls for better training are past. I don’t want to be a silent witness to a fellow human being’s dehumanization and potential death. I don’t want my only action to be holding a phone and recording while a black man breathes his last breath. I don’t want his final moments to be staring at onlookers holding phones with no one doing anything to help. What if that were your brother under that officer’s knee?

    I am not a violent person. However, if that’s my brother on the ground then I’m knocking that cop off of him. I’m taking him to the ground. I’m knocking him on his ass. Instead of yelling at a cop choking the life out of a man, perhaps it’s time for that crowd of onlookers to get hands-on and put their bodies on the line. Get that knee off. Stop that chokehold. Do enough to break it up. No more. It will mean going to jail. It will mean risking physical harm. It might mean your life.

    But maybe it will mean life for that brother on the street. Maybe it will mean cops will start intervening and reining in their fellow officers when they go too far. Maybe it will mean in the future police will stick to their training when they’re arresting someone and surrounded by an angry mob who just might not be content to shoot video and yell if they’re crossing the line into brutality.

    I’m not talking about hurting police. And I’m not talking about helping suspects escape justice. Police have a job to do. I want criminals apprehended. But their job is not being judge, jury, and executioner for people suspected of forgery or selling cigarettes on the street.

    Perhaps there must be a reckoning. Years of incident after incident only to watch officers escape justice have taught me there’s no cavalry coming. America isn’t waking up to this problem. Our outrage will eventually die down until the next black man is killed by police. He’s out there right now and soon we’ll know his name. And then the next one.

    So what happens when a fed-up people decide to no longer permit their brothers and sisters to be brutalized? Will we be heard then? Will our lives matter then?

    We should no longer be mere witnesses to injustice. What’s going to happen when 100 onlookers surrounding four cops realize that fate is giving them the chance to save a life instead of just witness the ending of one?

    I can hear it now. “A column like this is irresponsible!” “All lives matter!” “If they would just comply and not resist arrest!” “All police aren’t bad and all black people aren’t bad!” “Turn the other cheek!” “We should all just take a deep breath!”

    I would. But I can’t fucking breathe.

      • Debra DeAngelo

      • May 28, 2020 at 7:58 pm
      • Reply

      Stunning and stark and spot on.
      The thought of this happening to you is shattering.
      #ICantBreathe is the next level of #BlackLivesMatter.

      Stay safe, because the world is a better place with you in it.

      Thank you for your honesty.

      • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      • May 28, 2020 at 9:47 pm
      • Reply

      I worry all the time — about you, dear friends, members of my family. I worry about a future for my grandchildren — and honestly, they’re ALL my grandchildren. I would hope I had the courage of my convictions and intervene. One thing’s for sure — I would have a better chanced of making it out alive. I. Just. Hate. This.

      Please stay safe — Debra’s right. The world is better with you here.

      • Jane

      • May 29, 2020 at 12:28 am
      • Reply

      This column is ESSENTIAL.

      • Neil

      • June 20, 2020 at 4:58 pm
      • Reply

      Great article, I have always believed that bad things only happen when good people are silent.

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