I have taken excerpts from the chapters in this book entitled "A Day in The Life" and "White People We Need Your Help," to illustrate the way that African American children are often treated by the police. The occurrences are far too frequent to be dismissed, they are in fact, indicative of systemic differences between how black and white children, and later black and white adults are treated.
A Day in the Life
While Selling Water on Your Porch (June 2018) (Today, 2018)
“On June 23, a white woman named Alison Ettel called San Francisco police about an 8-year-old black girl selling bottled water without a permit. The girl’s mother filmed Ettel placing the call and posted the video on Instagram, where it has been viewed almost 1.5 million times. In front of her house, called by her neighbor.
The woman known as 'Permit Patty' reportedly said she didn't actually call the police on a child who was selling water on a San Francisco sidewalk, but phone recordings obtained by a local news station prove otherwise. Alison Ettel is reportedly heard on the 911 call saying, ‘I'm having someone that does not have a vendor permit that is selling water across from the ballpark.’ The call later cuts off.”
While Holding a Toy Gun (The Guardian, 2014)
Tamir Rice was a child with a toy gun, was never asked to drop it, then shot at close range by an officer who had resigned from a previous department for “dangerous loss of composure” during firearms training.
I could fill a book with occurrence after occurrence of instances of how racism affects everyday life. As we have seen, the effects from racism can range from nuisance to deadly. When you’re a minority, you don’t get to choose whether you will experience racism or not. It’s often thrust upon you. If you aren’t a minority, imagine encountering situations like this for an entire lifetime. Imagine possibly encountering racism from the police, from neighbors, in restaurants, on your child’s sports team, at sporting events, in the hospital, at the dorm, in a public park, and so forth. I’m not saying that minorities experience racism every day, but I am saying that racism is more widespread than you might think, and it still has more dangerous consequences than you might think, even in 2020.
White People We Need Your Help
…I had a discussion with a white woman recently online about a new incident of the police’s abuse of force in Aurora, Colorado, that took place on August 3rd, 2020. I will share that conversation in a moment, but here’s the backstory. In this incident, the police somehow ran the license tags of a woman’s SUV, and the tags wrongly indicated that the vehicle was stolen. The vehicle was flagged as stolen due to a glitch in the system. There was a stolen motorcycle with the same tag number but in a different state. Somehow the system didn’t distinguish between a motorcycle and an SUV. To complicate matters further, the woman had previously reported the vehicle stolen, and it was apparently recovered the next day.
I don’t know why the police ran the woman’s tags. She was in a nail shop with four minor children. How do you think the police confronted the unarmed woman and the four minor children, in a post-George Floyd environment, rid of the “bad apples” where 99.9% of all police officers are good? It’s hard to imagine what ensued.
Four armed officers approached the unarmed woman with weapons drawn and handcuffed her and two of the minor children and made the children lay face down, handcuffed on the ground. Imagine watching your 12-year-old sister and your six-year-old son being handcuffed and placed face down on the ground. Imagine the confusion of the other two minor children, too young to be handcuffed but also made to lay face down on the ground. Add to that visual the sound of children who are confused, afraid, and crying surrounded by police. I watched the video, and I had to fight tears of anger and bewilderment.
“It was done wrong”: Aurora police chief explains mistakes that led to officers handcuffing children
The video became the latest crisis for the Aurora Police Department, and on her first day as its permanent chief Vanessa Wilson apologized and, yet again, tried to explain how her department erred by failing to double-check information from a license-plate scanner before detaining Gilliam and four children.
It was done wrong,” she said. ’That’s the bottom line.’
In a Tuesday interview with The Denver Post, Wilson explained how officers bungled the Sunday incident that has drawn national attention and criticism to the department. The chief described several errors made by the officers and said she recognized the officers’ actions were traumatic to the children.” (Elise Schmelzer, 2020)
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