As a black woman, watching the news can be straight up traumatizing. To see black and brown bodies—not unlike mine or those of my friends or those of my family—dying in the street at the hands of people who are sworn to protect us…Trauma ensues. To this day, I pray each and every time I see someone of my family leave the house. My cousin keeps all his receipts scrunched up in his wallet to prove his innocence, despite doing nothing at all, because he has always, as a tall black male, “fit the profile.” We all rip out cameras when we feel there is police brutality, even if we know it will not do much. And recently, my trauma and the trauma of my people were once again subject to a viewing of the murder of someone who looked like us.
Alton Sterling, a CD salesman and father of five, was sitting outside the store, practicing his normal routine when, in a vengeful act, a homeless man called the cops on him. The store owner, who was familiar with Sterling, told the cops there was no wrongdoing. But despite this, Sterling was shot several times after the police had him on the ground. While Sterling was armed, the video shows the cops did not discover the gun until after they shot and killed him.
So weary and infuriated, people quickly found the story and lashed out at police, noting that although they take an oath to protect these citizens, they often do not uphold it. In fact, they terrorize the residents of the community. One woman, Nakia Jones, found herself fed up as well. A black female police officer from Ohio, she took to Facebook to express her disappointment and sadness at this incident.
In an action much more courageous and productive than my screaming Beyonce’s FREEDOM at the top of my lungs on my nightly run (sorry neighbors), she takes on police officers who do not uphold the standard of the law, but instead racism and white supremacy. In the video, she screams that police officers who work in communities of people they find inferior should take off their uniform and “put on their KKK hoodies.” She calls for them to resign or find another police department in which they are not afraid to approach the residents. She also remarks that if you cannot approach the residents in the community that you police, you should not work in that neighborhood, as it is more detrimental to both parties than simply resigning.
In the wake of all this tragedy, her statement stirs up many feelings because so many police are afraid to admit any wrongdoing by their fellow cops and excuse any behavior. Similarly, many cops don’t, in fact, “like” the community they work in, to paraphrase former cop Darren Wilson. To see a cop finally stand up and admit racism and wrongdoing by other police officers feels so so…vindicating.
I salute you, Ms. Jones. There need to be more like you.