Category Archives: police brutality

Being Afraid of The Police as a Law-Abiding White Woman

I’m afraid of the police. No lie: I’ve been afraid of the police for the past 10+ years due to witnessing police brutality and abuse of power. Over the past few years I have worked on this, but there is still an unconscious response of anxiety when I happen to be in a convenient store and a police officer walks in, or when I’m driving down the road and a cop car pulls in behind me, or when I witness a cop pulling over someone else, or when I have to talk to the police for any reason.

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How is this not frightening to see coming down your street?

This shouldn’t be the case, and certainly one would think that a young white woman wouldn’t have a fear of police… but I do. And the more and more the police forces become militarized, the more and more I worry about abuses of power. My town recently had a “Police Appreciation Parade” and my house sits on the parade route (legit, my town has like 20 parades a year, and they are all in front of my house. I never thought I would hate parades until I moved here). So, the police force in my town has a lot of money that is partially funded by a huge, stinky landfill that you can smell from my back yard (and I’m about 4 miles from it). So the police have a lot of toys. The parade scared the crap out of me. Police vehicle after police vehicle set off all of their freaking ridiculously loud sirens, with officers armed in heavy duty SWAT team armor and heavy duty, scarily huge guns (I’m sorry I don’t know anything about guns. These looked like big machine weapon guns). The alarms were so ridiculously loud, and really scared me, and my poor dog. They weren’t just the regular police siren, but were the alarms that were the high pitch beep and the one that says “This is not a test” and stuff like “Stay in your houses, we are on lockdown”. All I could think about was how re-traumatizing this probably was for veterans and people who have been in warzones. The end of the parade had camouflaged humvees and other war vehicles. The only thing that makes living on a parade route tolerable is the candy thrown to those watching the parade. Needless to say, there was no candy being thrown for “Police Appreciation Day”.

Now listen. I realize that most police officers are good people, people who want to legitimately make the world a better place, and for these people, I can’t express my gratitude. I cannot imagine what it is like going into a job knowing that you could encounter dangerous situations, that maybe this is the day you don’t come home. I also can’t imagine the stress police officers are going through, knowing that now people are watching their every move and the blanket of criticism that has been laid on the police force since Ferguson (well, I mean, really since reconstruction, but Ferguson seems to be the easier chapter to look at for millennials to understand the effects of authoritarian policing and stigmatized racism).

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True Dat

How I’ve dealt with my anxiety of police officers is consciously working on turning this fear into love. When cops pass me multiple times while walking my dog, I wave. I say hello when they’re drinking their coffee in the corner store. And I have a friend who is a police officer, and this helps me personalize police officers and reconfirm my belief that there are many good, hardworking police officers who just want to make the world a better place and improve their community. It’s unfortunate when one bad banana spoils the public opinion of the rest of the bunch, however, I can talk from experience, that after seeing police brutality up close I gained a strong distrust for police. I think this is appropriate though. If the only interaction I have with police is negative, then of course my view of all police are going to be tainted. So when there are police departments that support a culture of racism and authoritarianism, of course people in those communities are going to have a hard time believing that the harmful police methods (ie: stop and frisk) will cease.

Just thought I’d keep it short and sweet. In conclusion: wear your seatbelt and download Waze while driving, and try to think of police officers as your equal, not someone who should be feared. Easier said than done.

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has humanity become blood thirsty and desensitized by real life?

The brand spanking new violent viral video came out on Monday night for America’s viewing pleasure. It shows a high school student getting the fuck beaten out of her by a police officer. I accidentally pressed play while trying to click the link to the story on think progress‘s FB post, and saw the first few seconds, before my panicked clicking of the pause button worked and the video came to a standstill screenshot. I choose not to watch these type of videos, because well, I just can’t. I can’t watch the video of this girl, the video of the Eric Garner’s murder, Freddie Gray’s arrest. the police brutality to the children at the pool party in TX, the video of the child, Tamir Rice, who was shot by police for having a toy gun, the Virginia news crew, Alison Parker and Adam Ward, etc. etc, and on and on…

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t have a strong stomach for violence and violent images. I’m a drag to watch horror movies with, I’ll end up passed out on the floor. I also don’t have the stomach for such viral videos, ones depicting real life violence, real life murder, real life fucking death. And through all of the constant talk and shares of these viral videos, I wonder if the true injustice is being to lose its power. Are we entertained? Are we still outraged? Are they watched with the same heart and compassion that we watch “Celebrity Reads Mean Tweets”? Are we being desensitized by real life? Is it wrong of me to think that we are?

one movie i've passed out during in recent halloween seasons

I passed out during The Antichrist last h’ween. Fuck this movie.

A few years ago an old my roommate showed me a video of R. Budd Dwyer, a PA State Treasurer who killed himself on live TV. It really fucked me up.  The same with JFK’s assassination. The people who saw these broadcasts live were affected and are probably still affected. These gruesome images are probably stored in the same part of their brain that nightmares are created. At least they are for me. But what about 2015? We’re used to close-up shots. We’re used to audio, to screams, to pleas. We’re used to seeing men beaten until they can’t walk, until they’re lying dead. We’re used to watching all of this, after we watch the first five seconds of that ad before we can click “Skip Advertisement”…

I think that humans as a species have always had a bloody thirsty taste for violence. (re: The Bible,) I don’t have a problem with violent video games, movies, or music, but I do have an issue with real life violence. So this is what I’m pondering- where is the line between real life violence and entertainment? Is there even a line anymore? The more these videos are surfacing the less their value and popularity. Is it wrong that I link these moments captured on tape akin to Gladiators fighting to their death, people watching and cheering on? (Or in the Walking Dead when the Governor has the Walkers chained up and townspeople fight them, and the crowd cheers on?) Is this the same type of feeling we get watching a stranger, a person who is disassociated from ourselves, as the victim of brutal, and often lethal, violence?

My generation watched the second plane crash into the second twin tower. We watched from our TVs the people escaping from the blaze, jumping from the buildings to their death. We watched and were (at least I was)  profoundly influenced by this violence, happening in real time. I remember riding my bike to meet up with my 7th grade girlfriends after school and not having words to describe our feelings about what we saw. Was this the start of it all- the true start of our desensitization? Should we stopping blaming mass shootings  on video games so much, and perhaps start examining what we are actually watching, what real life violence we choose to stream on our screens? And then how are we able to process this? Are we accepting it as reality or just as another video to watch between thumbing down Facebook statuses, on to like the next cute dog picture?

Then we are brought to the threat of censorship. My short answer is that these videos absolutely shouldn’t be censored. If Eric Gardner’s death wasn’t caught on camera, would the American people had the ammunition to question what happened and exposed an injustice that would have been covered up? These videos are becoming an integral part for social justice and intensifying awareness to the American people of how fucked up things are. These videos need to be processed as what they are- real life deathly oppression and violence, not just viral.

Here’s a video of a bunch of cute dogs and cute babies if you need a cute dog breather.