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[Book Excerpt #2 on: "The Roots of Racism in American Policing"]
If Black-Americans are to be successful in combating the scourge of an institutionally racist police system, we must have a clearer fuller appraisal of the true purpose of police, especially as it relates to us.
Photo: Facebook

Amadou Diallo, 23, executed in a hail of 41 shots, by the NYPD on February 4, 1999.

The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book "The Roots of Racism in American Policing: From Slave Patrols to Stop-and-Frisk." Over the next few weeks, the Black Star News will be publishing selected portions from the book.

This following excerpt is from the book's preface.

Police policy, and techniques like “Broken Windows,” “Stop-and-Frisk,” and the so-called “War on Drugs,” are all part of a historical ongoing war on Black America.

This war has been going on ever since Slavery, when the Slave Patrols (America’s only real indigenous form of policing) was created to monitor and terrorize Slaves. This is a point that cannot be stressed enough especially, as we analyze the continuing crisis between cops and Black America.

After Emancipation, new methods of attacks against African-Americans to incarcerate us were employed. The prison became the new plantation—and the police were the political tools used to make sure there was a continual steady stream of Black bodies.

What is often not fully understood are the methods by which America’s economic elites have criminalized African-Americans. Immediately after the December 6, 1865 ratification of the 13 Amendment, White elites exploited the loophole in it which outlawed Slavery and involuntary servitude in America,except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” We were criminalized through laws that were implemented with the objective of keeping us in a subordinate subservient place.

This loophole, in the 13 Amendment, represents an important timeline in White America’s criminalization and mass incarceration of Blacks. From this, we got racist legislation like the “Black Codes,” “Vagrancy Laws,” and the “Convict Lease System,” which allowed authorities to lease Black “convicts” to plantation owners. Under this scheme, African-Americans were re-enslaved. Writer Douglas Blackmon characterized this situation in his book titled “Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War Two.”

Unfortunately, because of a lack of historical analysis, and attempts to whitewash that history, the racist roots of the relationship between Blacks, White America, and their police, is often not fully understood. Any real understanding of why America’s current police forces treat Black-Americans in the manner they do must be viewed through the historical lens. Examining the genesis of American policing—especially, the one indigenous form of America policing known as the “Slave Patrol” system—is crucial in understanding why the institution of American policing see criminals whenever they see Blacks.

Many Blacks are aware police are always harassing and targeting them. Yet, do most really understand this behavior has been mandated from the very first moment American policing started interacting with us? How much has really changed since then?

Black America needs to know it was authorized by those slave-holding White plantation owners known so lovingly as the “Framers” and “Founding Fathers.” George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe were all a part of the so-called “Virginia Dynasty,” of early American presidents—who were slave plantation owners. The police “Slave Patrol” system was created to protect the profits of these slaveholders who feared slave uprisings would economically disrupt their “peculiar institution.” Trafficking in the bodies of Africans made these White men, and White America, “filthy rich.”

Now, we know the coming of Emancipation did not mean the economic exploitation of African-Americans would end. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation was only instituted to save President Lincoln from the sure defeat he faced at the hands of General Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy—since, at that point, the two-year-old war was going badly for Lincoln and the Union. After Emancipation, a new form of Slavery emerged utilizing the loophole in the 13 Amendment—and that led to the police mandate of criminalizing Black people.

The criminalizing of Black America continues to the present and is being ratcheted up by America’s current race-baiting “grab them by the pussy” President Donald Trump. Regressive racist Jeff Sessions, when he was still the attorney general, made sure the gains (consent decrees, in particular) that were initiated by former attorney generals Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch are being eradicated. Indeed, Sessions complained that these initiatives have hurt police morale. Apparently, holding police accountable for their crimes against African-Americans can’t be done if it hurts the morale of criminal cops. This is an interestingly idiotic rationale. Current Attorney General William Barr is no better.

If Black-Americans are to be successful in combating the scourge of an institutionally racist police system, we must have a clearer fuller appraisal of the true purpose of police, especially as it relates to us. In relation to Black America, the primary purpose of police has always been to oppress and terrorize us. That’s just the awful reality. Driving that message home (especially, to young African-Americans) is the primary purpose of this book.

In my view, if we continue to ignore this historical reality regarding policing we will not be able to fully realize just what it will take to finally bring an end to the crimes that are perpetrated by American policing against our people. The secondary purpose is to propose alternative ways of fighting against institutionalized police brutality and to articulate for the need for real community control over police (including by, eventually, having our own police, sheriffs etc.) who patrol segregated Black communities—something that is routinely done in White communities.

We must ask ourselves many questions including: why we allow White cops (who would never live in segregated Black communities) to police us, while they take the money, they make from their salaries home to their lily-White havens? Would segregated White communities allow Black police to police White communities? Would they allow Blacks to craft police policy in White neighborhoods? Who constructs and implements police policy for segregated Black communities? Do Blacks ever have a seat at that table when policing priorities are being decided?

These are all questions we must start addressing in earnest if we intend to stop police brutalization of Black people.

This book proposes to show that: American policing has always been a force for the oppression and victimization of Black America from its very beginning. The police are not in Black communities to “protect and serve” us. They are there to “protect” White America from us. The main job of America’s police, in the past and now, is to keep the racial shackles around Black necks and to stop our people from progressing.

The police have always been a primary instrument of institutional racism. That is why Congress and the White House show little concern when police kill and murder us—even when they are choking us to death or shooting us down dead by shots to the back. Without maximum political pressure, Washington will never act decisively to stop police violence against African-Americans.

The sooner Black-Americans accept this grim reality: that America’s police are there to terrorize and oppress us for a racist system, is the sooner we will be able to fight these forces with more unified effectiveness. With racist politicians like Donald Trump giving their blessings to the police to continue brutalizing us, the time is now for Black America to stand up strong to police prejudice, violence, and murder.

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