I was in 5th grade when I was taught to fear the police. We had a school assembly and my fellow 5th grader was invited up to the stage to participate in a demonstration.
It was about public safety or not ditching school or something like that. My friend Chris was invited up because he was the “bad boy.” He would frequently show up in my backyard with his skateboard and dog Holly to look for snakes. He was the class clown and could be disruptive.
So the officer did a demonstration where he handcuffed Chris and made him dance around the stage by pulling on his wrists. The kids laughed nervously. I focused in on Chris’ face and I saw thinly veiled fear.
I am white. I grew up in an almost exclusively white suburban neighborhood. My friends were white. My teachers were white. The cops were white. I had family members in law enforcement. They were scary to me. Intimidating, even my own relatives.
We knew about the open secret that they operated under the table with additional finances. They took bribes. They accepted free services. They expected free coffee.
The current events of recent late had me examining my experiences with police officers.
Is it “Serve and Protect” or “Control and Submit”? Who’s above the law?