Updated: Feb 15, 2019
As we get deeper into Black History Month, I find it evermore important to share with my peers and contemporaries a facet of my testimony as a black man. Specifically, I wish to share the event that was most decisive to shaping my view of police brutality and the state of law enforcement in this great nation of ours.
The first, and last, negative run-in with the police occurred when I was probably around the age of five. The only thing I remember about this event concerning my age is that I was still in my car seat, having to be carried into it and buckled in by my parents. On one of the days that I was confined to this car seat, my parents and I happened to be returning from some sort of family function. At this point, I lived with my parents in apartments far from the inner-city conditions of Philadelphia that the rest of my family lived in. We happened to be returning home from West Philadelphia; a place where among all the gangs that roamed the streets, the police often appeared to be one of them. I would understand this fact with perfect clarity on this fateful day.
It was autumn, and the golden tint of the sky seemed to grace everything under it with its sheen. Inside the car brilliant rays of sunlight shone with the likeness of the color of a most radiant sunset. However, this magnificent atmosphere created by the color that pierced the windows of my father’s car was interrupted by the flashing red and blue lights of a squad car. My father pulled over, and I can recall both him and my mother discussing. They had not been speeding, nor was my father driving the car in any suspicious or erratic way. I turned my little head as far as the restraints of my car seat would allow, and I could see two white police officers exiting the squad car. I was excited, from a young age I had always loved the police. I thought of them as heroes there to protect me… Right?
The officer who was driving the squad car approached my father’s window, and his partner stood just a few paces away from the car. The partner had his gun out, checking his pistol magazine and cocking it back. Why was he doing this? As the other officer was talking to my dad, his partner has his gun pointed at the back window, asking what was back there. My dad had slightly tinted windows, so if any defense could be given to the conduct of this officer it would be the fact that it might have been a little hard to see. My dad immediately ceased cooperation with the officers, refusing to answer any more questions until the officer with his gun trained on me had stood down. It took the officer on my the my dad’s side of the car to tell his partner that it was just me, a small child in the back seat and my dad to roll down the back window so that he could see that it was just me, a child, for the officer to lower his weapon. Even then, the officer lowered his weapon slowly, as if I would reach under my car seat, retrieve a gun, and, with my tiny hands, aim it at him and pull the trigger. I ask you America, under what curriculum of police training is this kind of product of officer acceptable? An officer who is either racist enough to threaten a harmless, defenseless black kid out of pure hatred, or afraid enough of the community and people he is policing to jump at even the site of a black child who is unfortunate enough to have been born black in America. In either case, I do not believe that the majority of the citizens of this great nation of ours wants to be policed by either racists or cowards. And that is all I have to say.