Walking, Driving or Living while Black

As far back as the late sixties, when I ran the streets. A twenty-something living my life young, gifted and black. So, advised Donny Hathaway in his hit song of the same name. Though the streets had its own perils, there was one unknown ending that could occur in my life. What happens if I am stopped by a white policeman for whatever reason. We didn’t use terms like “walking,” “driving” or just “living while black.” We took the simple route by advising all our friends, young brothers, etc. “Hey man, don’t make any gestures, or reach into your pocket. Don’t forget to drop anything in your hands if stopped by a white cop.”
It was a known fact that Milwaukee’s Police Department marching orders were the same back then as it is today. Always maintain the advantage in your approach to any civilian. Use any and all means to subdue a suspect or potential suspect avoiding risk and harm to the officers. That mantra was confirmed to me by a cousin who had become a detective for the city.
They had their bad boys, racist cops, and nervous rookies. Added to this mixture was good cops who was just trying to do their job. Cops back then walked the beats. Their faces and names were known in neighborhoods. The only time an issue would come up is when thugs decided to walk on the wild side and act like they don’t care about rules governing law and order.
Over ninety percent of the cops were white at that time. We wonder what the numbers are these days. Although its evident to people of color viewers, the race of the policemen does not matter when it comes to excessive force. Yes, we now see black, Hispanic or Island cops are reading off the same memo. Protect and serve numero uno before providing that service to the civilian world.
It’s certifiable that any cop wants to return home from a shift. Most will do whatever is necessary to do just that. The truth of the matter is I don’t blame them, within reason. But there is another fundamental way to look at that goal. The man or woman policemen knew the job was dangerous when they accepted the position. And force, which has been shown to be the case in any other fields, may not always be the best way to de-escalate a situation. That is why regular training of rookies and veterans alike is tantamount to having a sufficient police force. Stormtroopers are not the way to go.
Another sometimes-overlooked point in excessive force by policemen. Nowadays it is common to see a person of color policemen using excessive force upon the suspect. In other words, the police mantra is there for policeman regardless of color creed or origin. The proposed action against also covers any and all potential perpetrators. Although one can be sure, an officer’s judgment should even come into play.
Once an incident has gone viral, the police union, supervisor, etc. are in full protection mode of the police officer(s). You’ve seen the police union assumed the officer is always right. To ensure the eventual failure to prosecute the officer understands the need to say he or she “feared for their life.” Even non-police officers have used it as a defense. George Zimmerman used it in his testimony in the Trayvon Martin case. After it was suggested by a detective interviewing him after the murder. The excuse has become the ultimate get out of jail card.
The public or officers can no longer live with the “Feared for My Life” excuse. As human beings, we have got to be smarter than that. There are a couple of changes authorities can implement within their department. Implementations that would eliminate or at the very least reduce the number of incidents.
1. Training: I believe community leaders should be advocating psychology, stress recognition, community policing, de-escalation (adult and teenage subjects)
2. Yearly Exams: Quarter and half-year Courses that would identify job fatigue. Along with a test that reveals how a subject policeman deals with people outside of his or her race.
3. Change: the officer is always right in the police unions directives. In other words, clearly define the meaning of “Feared for my Life.” What is reasonable or is a subject trying to hide poor policing tactics behind this doctrine.
4. Cooperation between the community and police department: Began working together on neighborhood crime large or small. Find ways to protect citizens who want to provide info of a crime but fear the street snitch backlash.

For us, we’ve got to realize these are our neighborhoods. Places where we live, our children play and attend school. These are streets that we drive on, sometimes paying a premium for the car, home, and business insurance. Areas where grocery chains and other stores do not want to open a store in fear of something terrible happening to their store. We’ve got to take ownership of our own streets, corners, and neighborhoods. If we don’t, we end up with people in local or national political office that will take us in directions we don’t want to go as a people or country.
Look at the horror story of the day from the Trump administration, Separating children from parents or guardians at the border. People who are fleeing persecution of different sorts and seeking asylum in the United States. Presently we have Trump and 40 percent of the country who think they know what is best for 100 percent of Americans. I am among the other 60 percent of Americans who don’t think so. What do you think?
Peace & Blessing…stay vigilant for our American rights. Make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,

Codis Hampton II
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We are in a continuing effort to publicize my book, Gracie Hall-Hampton, the Arkansas Years 1917-1953. It’s based upon the life of my Grandmother. The Novel examines an era of Jim Crow that many in our society may have forgotten occurred against people of color. Meanwhile, we celebrate the publication of my latest and fifth book, Misguided Intentions. A book that questions family relationship to its core. Click on the publisher-Authors page at https://outskirtspress.com/MisguidedIntentions
Get any of my books by visiting my Amazon.com Authors page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B017TYFKBI?ref_=pe_1724030_132998070

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Copyright 2011 Codis Hampton II, all rights reserved. A bi-weekly blog for your enjoyment

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