This week, a story about Chicago police officers escorting young girls without fathers in their lives to a local daddy-daughter dance last Friday has been making it’s way across the internet. Included in the brief NBC Chicago report on the story was this quote from Chicago PD Commander Larry Watson:
“They actually get to see us to find out that the police are nothing but people. We just happen to have uniforms on.”
That’s nice. But guess what? All of the unarmed young black men and women whose lives were, and are continuing to be, taken during confrontations with police officers were “just people” too.
In recent years, Chicago has continuously made news headlines for violent summers and year-round neighborhood turf wars that claim the lives of young black people in mass numbers, so having police officers stand in for absentee fathers not only humanizes cops in the wake of the police war on black lives, it paints a positive picture in the midst of a grim situation on a local level.
But stories painting police officers in a positive light which seem to conveniently surface every time another black life is claimed at the hands of a different police department every other day do not ease the frustration, dull the pain, or restore faith in our justice system for African-Americans. And why should it?
They asked for “peaceful protests” following the Mike Brown murder in Ferguson, only to acquit the Staten Island police officers who choked Eric Garner to death. They asked the people of Baltimore to “heal their community” instead of hurting it following the murder of Freddie Gray, only to acquit the Cleveland police officer who stood on the hood of the car of an unarmed black couple and fired over 100 shots into their windshield after chasing them down when he mistook their car backfire for a gunshot. How are we to continuously depend on a flawed justice system that allows those committing these murders to go free simply because they put on a uniform and wear a badge? We are told to be patient and trust that justice will prevail…but who’s justice? Because it certainly isn’t any that we recognize.
Much like the story about the white police officer that returned to the home of a struggling black mother of 4 to deliver free groceries after he caught her stealing, we applaud these “daddy-daughter dance” officers for giving these little girls irreplaceable memories that will surely last a lifetime. But until our government accepts that the only real solution to begin mending the broken relationship between police officers and the African-American community is to see the remorseless murders parading as “police officers” brought to justice for the increasing number of black lives that we can never get back, change in our attitudes towards law enforcement will cease to exist. We’re not asking for criminals to go free just because they share our skin color, but we are asking that ALL of those who find themselves in confrontations with the law be treated equally.
When police officers stop declaring open season on black lives and lawmakers put policies in place to unequivocally prosecute those who continue to do so anyway, then and only then will our country begin to see they type of healing and peace that we all say we want so desperately.
Photo Credit: NBC5 Chicago