It took me years to outlive the residue of my near fatal beating and accompanying incarceration for a speeding ticket in the late sixties. It was post-Jim Crow South. As a Christian, I have tried to hate the behavior but forgive and understand the officers.
Thirty years later, I could smell my son’s anxiety when a police car followed him home from the basketball court with a warrant for his arrest. The warrant described a man five foot six inches tall. My son was six foot three inches tall. The man weighed 120 pounds. My son weighed 160 pounds. The man was 35 years old. My son was 17. My son was in school when the illegal behavior occurred.
Fast forward a few years and it was a police officer who saved my life at the risk of his own.
Sociology says the police force is one of the most visible features of governance in the United States. For about 150 years, the police force has been organized as a form of public institution entrusted with the duty of enforcing the law (Fry and Berkes 1983). In democratic societies, police officers adopt the role of social control agents and “accountability is [thus] of the essence” (Buckler and Unnever 2008; Punch and Gilmour 2010:11). For as long as they have existed, police departments have received a significant amount of public scrutiny over the issues of corruption, unfairness, the overall lack of professionalism, and excessive use of force (Lersch and Mieszkowski 2005; Lundman 1980; Walker 1977, 1992). With the increasing development of communication technology, the incidents of police misbehavior and police-public tension have become ever more visible (Frank 2009). The excessive use of force by police has instigated a series of violent turmoil (Lersch 1998; Lersch and Mieszkowski 2005).
“In light of these facts, one is left with three questions: First, why do some law enforcement officers engage in abusive behaviors against civilians despite their duty to ensure the public’s safety? Second, why are the weak in our society more prone to victimization from the police? And finally, how do micro- and macro-level factors come to influence their individual-level behaviors?” 1]
I have a fourth question. If we can get through this painful, convulsive moment in history, where will we be?
What I know is that all of us have both conscious and unconscious bias. The resulting level of social disruption apparently depends on the object of our bias. I know you can legislate behavior but not attitudes. And I know a healthy solution to our social “now” includes our ability to be more open to other people’s stories; to walk around in another person’s skin. Most importantly, I believe we have to refuse to listen to the voice of fear. I believe we can learn to trust the hero living inside each of us. And if we can be brave enough to live within the mysteries of human experience, we can not only survive as the human race but thrive!
 http://mcgillverstehen2012.weebly.com/towards-a-theoretical-understanding-of-police-brutality.htmlUntil next time, remember,
You are not alone.
You are not your circumstances.
You have everything within you to live a purpose-filled life.