Police Misconduct Must End

By Rosetta Miller Perry

There’s a lot of verbal garbage coming from the White House about “law & order,” and even some gutless Black conservatives want to pretend there’s no problem with police in Black communities. This crew claims that people protesting about the bad actions of those  who are supposed to be enforcing the law, but instead emulate the behavior of criminals, are unconcerned about crime and violence. 

But in truth, there’s been a policing crisis in this nation for decades. Now, thanks to who’s in power, police in cities across this nation are routinely beating, shooting and/or killing Black men and women, often without cause. Many times they act like de facto executioners rather than folks who take an oath to protect and serve the public.

Nashville got a recent taste of this garbage a few days ago, when a trio of white police officers decided to play cowboy and terrorized (yes, that’s the appropriate use of the word) an innocent family. Using a public housing agency database to find the home of a 16-year-old they were investigating, this trio couldn’t be bothered to find out that the database they were using was out of date. That’s because the agency had determined since 2018 that providing housing information to the police violated privacy laws.

This fiasco resulted in the police breaking down the door of an innocent family. The lack of proper procedure and official conduct was so egregious Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake has since ordered a full investigation of the incident by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability. “No innocent family in Nashville, anywhere, should be subjected to what the mother and her two children went through on Tuesday morning,” Drake said in a news release. “They were awakened by a team of officers who banged on their door and ultimately knocked it in with a ram.”

“There appears to have been a lack of confirmation through other means, including surveillance or checking with human sources,” Drake said. “We have to be better than that, and I absolutely assure you, we will be moving forward.” He added the officers did not appear to give the woman who lived in the home sufficient time to come to the door before ramming it open at 6:05 a.m. The official police excuse was they were looking for evidence related to auto burglaries.

As one of the few Black men in a position of power in Nashville, Chief Drake has a tough task. The current police force feels it shouldn’t have any oversight or be held accountable for any actions they take. Like police unions nationwide, the one in Nashville feels it’s above the very laws they’re supposed to be enforcing, and no one should ever question their conduct or attitudes, no matter what they do. Their continued refusal to cooperate with the Citizens Oversight Committee is just one part of their overall arrogance and contempt for the very people they’re supposed to be protecting.

Some naive people felt all the demonstrations and marches, as well as the national furor generated by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor might finally result in things starting to change. That misguided sentiment continues to be proven wrong almost daily. Just this past weekend in Lafayette, Louisiana and Kenosha, Wisconsin, two more Black men were shot by the police in questionable (at best) incidents. The Louisiana situation involved an obviously mentally disturbed man who allegedly had a knife. But eyewitnesses there insist police could and should have de-escalated the situation rather than choosing to fire 11 times, killing Trayford Pellerin.

Jacob Blake in Kenosha was trying to be a peacemaker and instead ended up shot in the back seven times by police as he was trying to get in his car, with his children watching. That’s going to haunt them the rest of their lives, seeing their father shot multiple times right in front of them. There was absolutely no reason for police to fire on Blake, whose only actions had been trying to break up a fight, and who was trying to get away from what had turned into an ugly street incident.

These police shootings keep happening, and yet we continue to get ridiculous, pathetic explanations and ridiculous assertions about why police need military grade weapons, and why folks shouldn’t get upset over these incidents. We’re told most police are good, it’s only a tiny minority, and the job of a police officer is a tough one.

Well, the job of a police officer is only easy in a police state, and if there are so many good cops, when are they going to start stepping in and stopping the bad ones? Right now, The Tribune and many, many others in Black neighborhoods across this country and for that matter around the world, say it’s time to stop this insanity, and start making police accountable when they make mistakes just like any other public servants.