‘We’re Like Animals To Them’: An American City’s Daily Racism
The article is right about it – we are all like animals to police in America. The thing most people don’t know is that it is true race is one reason, but poverty and being poor counts as an excuse for police to brutalize individuals and groups too. There have been shootings of unarmed people and police brutality against Americans who were mentally ill, disabled, poor, black, Latino, women, single women of all races trying to raise their children alone making them both impoverished and considered mentally ill too by the system as a result, elderly, gay and lesbian, those dressed differently, those wrongfully arrested by police when looking for someone else, and anyone who simply is not an accepted middle or upper class member of the community.
Police are harassing Americans and brutalizing them based on
- economic status,
- by way of how they are dressed,
- based upon age of car,
- difference from the “norm as seen on some tv sitcom”,
- not from here,
- from the poor side of town,
- turned in to police for acting weird or saying things or doing things family members don’t like,
- having ownership of things that family members want to take from an elderly family member without other legal right to do so,
- for not paying child support adequately even after loss of a job,
- for having the butt of a marijuana cigarette in the yard or driveway,
- for having two trash pails in the house instead of one,
- for not having a home that looks like a magazine picture with everything matching inside,
- for not having $40 cash on person,
- for having over $200 cash on person,
- for not having prescription drugs in the original container but instead in a daily pill reminder box,
- for not having ID that matches the exact name on a social security card or in county records even if it is maiden name and now married,
- for not having the current address on everything to match – including on the bank card and drivers license even if you moved recently,
- for jaywalking,
- for asking what you are being charged with or what you did wrong, and
- for not having the good sense to let officers come into your house without asking them why.
People in America have been shot for reasons that no longer make sense, if they ever did. Police commonly stop people who are walking on the sidewalk in towns and suburbs across America, who are doing nothing out of the ordinary except that they don’t own a car and therefore are not using a car to get around as everyone else does. Unarmed and sober, not doing anything but walking and it still doesn’t matter to police who have the right to harass, arrest without cause, drum up as many misdemeanors for the same charge as they can get their computers to offer as possibilities, and shoot, tase, beat or kill that person while doing that harassment to them if the police officer overreacts at any moment in it.
Those are all grounds for shooting someone in America according to the reality that over the last twenty years, they’ve been doing it for those reasons, tasing people for those reasons, making arrests on those reasons, toting people off to locked mental wards without a phone call or attorney or any rights whatsoever nor any recourse, and generally holding people against their will for longer periods of time in jails and other institutions without rights for simply no reason at all beyond poverty, not crime.
People think police have to knock before coming in their house – but they don’t. Citizens believe police must have cause or a warrant before doing anything to a person, but that hasn’t been the case for so many years it is obscene – about 1970 onwards. And police are not supposed to use deadly force unless they feel their safety is threatened but they walk into every situation with the idea they are threatened before even getting there. Along with the fact that police are not randomly screened for psychological stability, for whether they have a habit of bullying or domestic violence, for drug use, for alcoholism, and are not getting training on community policing but rather training for a war zone while being led to believe they are policing in urban war zones where it is nothing but “us and them”. Everyone looks like an animal to police in America except maybe those they grew up with or know personally – maybe – or members of the immediate families of town council members – maybe.
Yes race is part of it. But long gone are the days in America when anyone could say that police brutality is happening only because of race. Now it is an oppression intended to destroy and eliminate communities of the poor, the disabled, the mentally disadvantaged, the emotionally disordered, the faces and skins of people of various races, the elderly and aging, the single women with children, the homeless, the different, the diverse, the fellow human beings whose sexual orientation differs from tradition, the various religious differences, the unarmed who haven’t the time or knowledge to get all their ID to match at any given time, and those whose skills have not been rewarded with massive incomes that would’ve been available to them at any other time in our history. That’s the groups of people police have been wrongfully arresting, harassing, wrongfully shooting, tasing to death, beating, brutalizing and generally making every effort to oppress and make life even more difficult for. So, the question is – why?