The black community relationship with law enforcement through our history in America has been one of racism, harassment, and victimization.
Editor’s Note: This opinion piece was originally meant to be released the week of April 9th. I wasn’t happy with the article. I worked on it until it was ready for readers.
The black community relationship with law enforcement through our history in America has been one of racism, harassment, and victimization. This nation’s history is rife with examples of patterns of misbehavior by law enforcement officials. Rodney King, Laquan McDonald, and many more. These black men are examples of those patterns of misbehavior by law enforcement against the black community.
Over the past few years, the black community has had to deal with an influx of deaths of young black men by police. Families have mourned the lost of sons, brothers, fathers, and uncles. Their stories captive the news cycle for a wrinkle in time. Lives of young black men being taken too soon. A disenfranchisement and anger that wells deep within the collective spirit of the black community. The urge to riot and protest against this pattern of misconduct and abuse of power. To make our voices heard in our community and nationwide that this victimization must stop and things must change. We will not stand idly by watching the loss of life at the hand of law enforcement.
Names as Tamir Rice, Freddy Grey, and Philando Castile bring up so many emotions bubbling to the surface. These black men are continued examples of the victimization by law enforcement on our community. Their lost reverberates throughout the entire community and on the generations to come. These incidents only seek to further the divide between law enforcement and the black community here in America.
This is a pattern of institutional racism and victimization against the Black community is deeply embedded in this nation. One that needs to have a thoughtful and articulate discussion on how we change that relationship between the black community and law enforcement. That dynamic doesn’t change overnight and it takes both parties working together to find a meaningful path forward.
Last Friday, at a press event Rep. Bobby Rush joined progressive leaders within Chicago to support Cook County D.A. Kim Foxx against public criticism of her handling of the Jussie Smollett case. During his speech at the event, Rep. Rush had some provocative remarks on the National Fraternal Order of Police (NFOP).
“The FOP is the sworn enemy of black people,” Rep. Rush said. “For over 50 years, the FOP has always taken the position that black people can be shot down in the street by members of the Chicago police department and suffer no consequences.”
The statements that Rep. Rush made during his speech on Friday marginalized and undermines all the black men and women who serve their communities in Chicago and nationwide. I believe Rep. Rush’s comments were misguided, provocative, and irresponsible to say the least. When speaking on such a explosive topic we should choose our words tactfully. His provocative rhetoric only deepens the divide between the black community and law enforcement here in America.
Simultaneously with that statement, he also undermines the black men and women who serve in Chicago directly. Saying that the NFOP is the ”sworn enemy of black people.” Does that make the black men and women who serve their communities the enemy? Is it either your with us or your against us mentality? That is the question you must pose to ourselves if you believe the rhetoric as Rep. Rush laid out during his speech. Because all police are the enemy.
Representative Rush, your words undermine all the hard work that the black men and women are doing in our communities. Who come from these neighborhoods and are giving back to their community. Inspiring the young black youth that you don’t have to be victims of circumstance and that you can be more. They are men and women who want to protect their neighbors and community. These men and women seek to see their communities grow and prosper. Hopefully, all their hard work and dedication can build a healthy relationship between the black community and law enforcement.
They work to represent our community in a positive light. To represent us in an occupation that we are underrepresented in. Working to change minds and attitudes from the inside out between the black community and law enforcement.
With a simple and inflammatory statement, Rep. Rush potentially erased all that hard work. Mr. Rush your words were callous and reckless to all the men and women who serve and protect their communities.
Instead of casting ill will and vitriol toward the National Fraternal Order of Police. While undermining the black men and women who serve in Chicago and nationwide. Why don’t you work together with the police in your community to create dialogue to foster change. To engage with police officers nationwide and help change the dynamic of victimization and institutional racism of black people by the hands of law enforcement.
That is what you should be speaking on instead of increasing that gap Rep. Rush. We must look before we leap. Same applies to speech Representative Rush. Next time choose your words wisely.
Thanks for Reading
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I will provide a link to the original article I read from the Chicago Tribune.