Dallas, Baton Rouge And The History of Police Relations with Black America

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Galvin Long

[Speaking Truth To Power]

The murders of three Louisiana Police officers by the hands of Marine Sgt. Gavin Long, coming a week after the executions of five Dallas Police officers by Army veteran Micah Johnson, represents a ominously dangerous turn of events in the longstanding problems between the police and Black America.

Real leadership must emerge soon if the spiraling cycle of death and murder is to be stopped. Some politicians, especially on the Republican side, are now using the tragic deaths of these police officers to justify attacks on Black activist groups, like Black Lives Matter.

Supreme Republican racist and presidential candidate Donald Trump has resurrected the “law and order” mantra, which was always a call for police to control Black people through the use of state violence. We must not let unprincipled politicians and police apologists scare or scapegoat us into silence.

Ever since the killing of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, Blacks, Latinos and others of conscience have engaged in mass protests, largely peaceful, to highlight the pressing need for change in police departments where institutional racism is deeply entrenched.

Sadly, politicians—on both sides of the aisle, although Republicans are worse—have done nothing to address the racist brutality we’ve seen from police. In the Alton Sterling case, the video shows us a Black man clearly being murdered by Officer Blane Salamoni and Officer Howie Lake. Are they trying to tell us there isn’t enough probable cause to make an arrest now? Black America cannot afford to wait on police or politicians to change the way police treat Black people.

Police unions have zero credibility—since, they tolerate and excuse any brute as long as he wears a badge; and politicians won’t act on their own—because they’re too scared of the police unions. Substantive action is needed to quell the brutality and murder of innocent Black people. Enough innocent Black blood has been shed. It’s time for Black Americans, Latinos, and others of conscience, to launch a strong sustained campaign to disrupt the “business as usual” approach to everyday life in America.

That means boycotts and other forms of economic protest tactics must also be deployed to pressure that other powerful segment of American society that can help us put an end to the regular pattern of violence and murder that Blacks face at the hands of police: the business community. Now is the time for us to test the loyalty of our “progressive” friends who are union leaders and the like.

We must become engaged in work stoppages of all kinds including sickouts and walkouts. College teachers, students, alumni etc., will be critical in this effort to leverage change through economic disruption. Legendary African-American journalist Ida B. Wells once said “The appeal to the White man’s pocket has ever been more effectual than all the appeals ever made to his conscience.” During the Civil Rights Era, the boycott was used with maximum success during the Montgomery Bus Boycott which force that company to acquiesce and submit to our demands.

The time has again come for us to engage in the art of the economic boycott and mass protests. Black Americans must pressure American businesses to lobby Congress, and the political class at the state and local level, to address and speak out on the issue of institutional racism that is widespread in police departments across the country.

Businesses who provide funding and contributions to the Fraternal Order of Police must also be pushed to rethink their full support of police unions who have violated the public trust by erecting a “Blue Wall” that protect criminals and murderers who wear a badge.

No self-respecting Black person should donate money to any police unions—especially, at this time—who protect criminal cops. In this current climate, if these unions have the temerity to ask Black people for money they should be required to speak out against those officers who have the stain of innocent people's blood on their hands. We need accountability—and we’ve seen none with respect to police murdering Blacks.

This week, yet another police Officer Lt. Brian Rice, who initiated the action that lead to Freddie Gray’s death, was acquitted to the surprised of no one. Instead of accountability, police apologists, as guest pundits on media programs, spin absurdities and constantly engage in police propaganda. Imagine, retired racist Officer Mark Fuhrman is a “police expert” on Fox News. Are we supposed to value the credibility of police when they’re hardly every honest on these matters? Others serial liars, like former Mayor Giuliani point the finger at Black Lives Matter.

But Giuliani’s NYPD is known for using racist police practices like, Stop-and-Frisk and “Broken Windows,” techniques that were well used throughout the policing career of current NYPD Commissioner William Bratton. Is there any wonder why we hear of scandals among the highest ranks of the current NYPD, where several high ranking officers were being investigated by the FBI? Police apologists always tell us about how hard and difficult policing is, whenever they’re caught brutalizing Blacks.

This canard doesn’t explain why Black people are always the victims of police brutality. And, as Ohio Officer Nakia Jones said if you suffer from prejudice and can’t do the job without killing and murdering Black people then “take the uniform off and put the KKK hoodie on.”

After the Louisiana attacks, retired NYPD Officer Eugene O’Donnell—who teaches at John Jay College in New York—talked about the supposed crazies of the “wild west” on social media that he says are dangerous. Mr. O’Donnell should do a little YouTube research on police brutality if he wants to see what a modern day “wild west” looks like.

The police propaganda of people like Officer O’Donnell and Mayor Giuliani is symptomatic of the dishonesty of these people. As a teacher, at John Jay College, does Mr. O’Donnell teach his students that the modern police force were once slave catchers in the south and armed night watchmen of supposedly “free” Blacks in the north?

Does he ever speak in his classes about the “Slave Patrols?” Police and politicians cannot be trusted to change America’s police departments. During a recent, radio program—Education at The Crossroads on WBAI 99.5 FM in New York—retired NYPD Officer Noel Leader, a co-founder of One Hundred Black in Law Enforcement, talked about many of the things that are wrong in the police, and mentioned the use of something called “Collars for Dollars.”

Basically, according to Officer Leader, officers who tallied the most “collars,” or arrests were given more overtime hours and positive evaluations. Economic incentives in policing is a bad idea that creates the kind of crooked cop culture that infests police departments. We’ve already heard of the Justice Department’s findings that the Ferguson Police and courts used racial targeting in tickets and summonses to balance the city’s budget. The bloody events of the past weeks speaks to the seriousness of this historical moment.

The tragic assassinations of police in Louisiana and Dallas were foreseeable, and could have been prevented, if police and politicians held criminal officers to account for their violent actions. If Black America and police are to have peace the infrastructure of institutional racism, in police, must be destroyed.

Republicans politicians are now trying to silence Black Lives Matter activists and Black people who protest against racial policing and violence. We must reject and denounce these folk. They no doubt fear an escalation of police protests and marches—including the increased use of economic boycotts.

The is exactly what we must do.


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