In New York at the same hour, my son's friend O, who is Black, called him on his cell. My son was at a track meet watching his athletes compete. O told him what had happened and then said, "You and I had best move to another country, my friend, because it's a fucking war out here." My son told me this later, on Christmas eve when he was driving me around to get last minute gifts. He also told me that he had made a conscious decision not to march, not to get snared by the anger and sorrow over the grand jury decision not to indict the cop who choked the life out of a Black Staten Island man last July. "I just can't walk around angry," he said. "I just need to live my life." I don't fault him. We do what works. I don't want him marinating in anger either.
Today, one of the officers is being laid to rest and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is there, despite NYPD officers blasting him for contributing to the atmosphere of distrust of cops by admitting that he had counseled his Black son on how to conduct himself in interactions with cops. The cops said de Blasio had those two dead cops' blood on his hands. When the mayor walked into the room to give a press conference the night after the shooting, the cops present turned their backs on him. My son has chosen not to dance with anger and I admire him for it, but the photo of that Klingon-like repudiation of a White father trying to protect his Black son enraged me. Of course Di Blasio counseled his son. The numbers of unarmed Black men killed by White police officers don't lie. Even Black police officers in New York City admit they fear for their lives when out of uniform. Black cops give their sons "The Talk" too.
In a Reuters news interview, 25 African-American cops, some active, some retired, revealed that all but one of them had been racially profiled by White cops when out of uniform, most of them multiple times. It often made no difference that they immediately identified themselves as police officers when stopped, the cops told them the badge was fake, that they were lying or in some cases, said they didn't care who the fuck they were. The Black cops had their faces slammed into cars and concrete sidewalks, were kicked and punched, despite the fact that they all knew better than to "resist arrest." One Black cop who took his complaint to Internal Affairs, eventually left the department, disillusioned when no action was taken against the White cops who assaulted him. He had been doing nothing more than walking to his car in a parking lot at night. Another off duty Black cop was jogging when accosted. "What's suspicious about a jogger? In jogging clothes?" he asked rhetorically. Two-thirds of the Black cops interviewed said they never bothered to report or pursue justice in connection with the incidents, aware that they would be harassed and worse if they did.
I worry for de Blasio. If the cops are against him, who is going to protect him and his family? I know his wife, who is Black, is losing sleep at night.
My cousin in San Francisco, a social worker, had an interesting take on the whole harrowing interaction between White cops and Black citizens, especially those in poor and disenfranchised neighborhoods. She said that you take the cops, who have a tough and dangerous job, who have seen true horrors in the line of duty, and who are probably suffering from PTSD. Then you take Black men from neighborhoods fractured by poverty, who are most likely also suffering from PTSD and who have an ingrained distrust of cops based on a violent history. Then you add the overlay of conscious and unconscious racism, the fact of the proliferation of guns, and the relative powerlessness of Blacks in general in the society, and you have an incendiary mix. Some White cops have been reported to joke that if they kill a Black man in dubious circumstances, they'll likely get an unscheduled paid vacation, and that's not so bad. They have also admitted that they avoid the same overreaching behavior with White suspects, because too much heat rains down on them.
So where do we start in healing this ongoing nightmare? There are so many threads to pick apart I have no clue. Never wonder why I pray.