I’m a pretty innocent person. I’ve only ever gotten a ticket for the time when I didn’t read the sign when parking near a concert venue to see TMBG for my birthday. I was a little preoccupied with being excited to be standing in the snow noticing and checking the sign saying “no parking during these hours on these days.” When my car died in the middle of traffic sitting at a stoplight this year, the officer that came around and parked behind me to direct traffic was very kind and courteous and helped keep me from freaking out.
I have a lot of respect for police officers, and I imagine it takes a lot of courage to even say, “I want to be a police officer!” before you even get to your first crime scene. I know that they deal with horrific things day in and day out. I definitely could not do it. As a well-off white woman, I can think to myself, “the police are there to protect people, including me.” At worst I figure I will be dealt with with apathy, like the department in Brussels when my laptop was stolen did. But over the past few years, with the high-profile killings of black boys, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of people in our country who cannot say that. And I know – from watching a lot of German historical movies if nothing else – that when the police decide, on some level, that they are not there to protect you, then they have a frightening amount of power to disenfranchise and destroy your life. No matter what race you are.
They are brave men doing a hard job and making hard calls. But a lot of people over the centuries could fit that description, and it doesn’t mean we would approve of their individual actions with the perspective of years. Our system is broken so badly that an entire community is protesting and even rioting: they have no legitimate way to be heard within the system. I hope that the system can hear them now.