LAPD cop: Only you (and your complete docility) can stop police brutality

If this doesn’t terrify you, it should.

From WaPo today, this diatribe from a Los Angeles police officer who is understandably upset by all the generalizing on his comrades following the Aug. 9 shooting death by Ferguson, Missouri police of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

Sunil Dutta appears to be a brown man, but clearly, all skin folks ain’t kin folks. He writes in the article headlined: I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me. – The Washington Post.

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t scream at me that you pay my salary, and don’t even think of aggressively walking towards me. Most field stops are complete in minutes. How difficult is it to cooperate for that long?

Let me count the ways that this is all kinds of wrong. I can’t, because I don’t have the time.

Among my immediate reactions:

1. You chose this job and all the BS that comes with it so… No.

2. First Amendment.

3. If all that was required of black and brown people to be free from the police state in too many of our neighborhoods, disproportionate rates of stop and frisk, discriminatory sentencing patterns, a society with a narrative that equates people of color with criminal intent, was to bow down during the rare field stop, then maybe I’d be inclined to listen to you, Massa Officer Dutta.  But Dutta is too flip toward citizens’ rights and too assured of his argument. So… No.

4-10. See #2.

To be fair, of all the things I worry about, one of them is not whether I’ll be the victim of unfair treatment by the Memphis Police. In part, that’s because the police force looks like the community it serves. The chief is black, plenty of higher ups are black, an appropriate percentage (based on what I see) of the officers are black. Not that black officers can’t be guilty of acting on the same systemic racism embedded in our culture, but research indicates that the racial makeup of the police force matters.

Now when I go to Mississippi, even though I’m light-skinneded, I make it a point to take my free papers with me, plus the names and phone numbers of two or three good white people who can vouch for my character. Of course, I’m mostly joking.

I’m not sure how Dutta’s essay elevates the overdue public discourse on police brutality beyond his cathartic moment.


One thought on “LAPD cop: Only you (and your complete docility) can stop police brutality

  1. He’s right. My mother taught me to be polite, don’t talk too much, keep my hands where they could be seen, tell them before I make a move and again, respect them as I would want to be respected.
    Your attitude is the one that leads to problems. I see it with black youth, some white youth, Occupy protesters etc.
    It’s all pretty basic. If you end up in court for whatever reason then you can have your say. Be the solution, not the problem.

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