Police and politicians, despite popular belief, are not the bosses nor do they have the last word.
I had a lengthy conversation outside City Hall one Friday afternoon with a politician who used the word “customers” to describe the voters in Philadelphia.
It caused me pause, because I had never heard a person in government used that particular term before when referring to a constituent. And at the same time, it illuminated the correct order and protocol in which taxpayers should interact with their contractors, who in this case are the mayor, city council people, police officers, district attorneys, city commissioners and judges, to name a few.
But too often than not, taxpayers don’t view themselves in the role of a customer or employer, the latter more true to reality seeing as how, for example, a police commissioner serves at the pleasure of the mayor, but works for, and is accountable to the taxpayers. Having the understanding that you, a taxpayer, are fundamentally the employer of those who govern, can be particularly beneficial when interacting with police, especially if you’re a person of color, who, by all statistical accounts, will have far more encounters with law enforcement.
In the aftermath of grand juries failing to indict the killers of Mr. Mike Brown and Mr. Eric Garner, protesters took to the streets to protest and police union bosses took to the media to posture. The attitude of those professionals who protect police officers seem to be that if citizens would just shut the f*ck up and allow for whatever to happen to happen, than they can go home without incident.
Not only is that perspective straight b*tch-a*sness, it’s not even logical considering legal precedent that allows citizens to resist unlawful arrest or harassment by police who they perceive are abusing their authority and/or presenting such a threat as to make the them fear for their lives. Furthermore, whereas the citizen, mostly likely a taxpayer, is paying the salary of the law enforcement officer, the idea of the employee b*tching out the boss is unacceptable.
As the CEO of Techbook Online, I can’t imagine being afraid every time an employee – whose salary is directly tied to my hard work – walks my direction or looks my way.
Let’s look at it this from another angle: If you hired a private security firm to guard your mansion, and every time you came home, they beat your a*** because they thought you were trying to burglarize the building, how many black eyes would it take before you made to movement to get rid of them?
I’m sadden when I hear that my hardworking brothers and sisters – regardless of color – are genuinely terrified of police and are suffering from haunted house syndrome: the idea of paying money to an institution in order to be scared sh*tless.
To improve police and community relations, many changes need to happen, like the widespread adoption of police-worn body cameras, a public arbitration process, elected arbitrators, comprehensive databases that journal city and state’s officer involved shootings, structures and mechanisms that protect good police officers for speaking against corrupt cops, stronger police advisory commissions and deeper commitment to being respectful from both the police and community members.
But beyond of all of those worldly things, an internal rebirth needs to happen in the heart of every citizen who really wants to see change and risking their life by participating in the anti-police violence movement. The old, scared, timid person who just follows order without questions needs to die, and a bold, fearless leader who understands their role and responsibility in society needs to be born.
Marches, die-ins, occupations of courthouse and police stations are all great attention grabbers that bring eyes to the movement, but for these direct actions to be sustained and impactful, everyone must first occupy themselves and a create a personal revolution that honors Mr. Garner’s last words and feelings: this (bullying) ends today.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™