Considering everything, I’d have to say the ball is firmly in the police’s court, and so are the local prosecutors. The decline started with the police when people started videotaping cops gone wild, so the repair needs to start with the police. And it’s pretty safe to say, they aren’t going to earn the trust of the black community with coverups and denials.
After the choking and killing of unarmed Eric Garner by several NYC police officers, Mayor De Blasio mentioned at a press conference that he and his wife have had to have painful conversations with their teenage son, who is half black, about how to take special care with any encounter he may have with police officers. The head of New York City’s police union said officers felt “thrown under the bus” by the mayor so in solidarity, they all turned their backs on the mayor as a sign of disrespect when he would enter their presence. Like old Bobby Shakespeare once said, ” Methinks thoust protest to much.”
My point is that the police will not earn the trust of the community by feigning false indignation or to protecting the few bad apples abusing the power of their position and killing unarmed citizens. Those few “bad cops’ who go all Judge Dredd on people tarnish the badge of the whole force and institution. They say that most cops are good, but good cops don’t let bad cops kill defenseless citizens. The police are sworn (and paid) to protect their community and uphold the law even if it’s one of their brothers in blue breaking it.
I understand that it’s a dangerous job and that they sometimes depend on their fellow officers to survive dangerous situations. But if they are afraid to break the blue wall of silence for fear that their fellow officers will not have their back in a shoot out should they report or arrest a fellow officer for murdering an unarmed person, then there is something terribly wrong with that department. It’s kind of hypocritical of the police to complain they can’t solve crimes because the community is afraid to “rat” on gangs for fear of retribution when the cops are as guilty of the same cowardliness and misplaced loyalty. And let me be clear to all the good cops out there, let me clear, I am not anti-police, I am anti police brutality. Reporting a crime committed by a fellow officer is not an act of a snitch, it’s an act of a hero… and it’s your job.
That is why, as an activist and and artist, I painted the image at the top of this post. It’s called “It Stops With Cops.” I will unveil the original oil painting at Politicon at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 9-10. When it happens, I will be at the Freddie Gray trial in Baltimore, handing out free posters and hoping to embolden good cops to be brave enough to break down that blue wall of silence. And when you do, may the force be with you.