I am a 27 year old white male.
I have never been arrested.
I have never been pulled over…
Or stopped while walking down the street.
And so when I received a message from a friend describing an incident involving his son: “he found himself, along with his friend face down on the concrete with the gun of a Riverside County sheriff deputy pointing at them.” I felt shock and awe. But I lacked empathy. Not because I don’t care, but rather, because I know that if I had been the one walking down the same street, in the same situation, this would not have happened.
Upon further conversation with the sheriff’s department, my friend discovered the suspects the sheriff deputies were looking for had potentially stolen firearms and it is the policy of the department to draw their weapons during this type of encounter.
I understand policy, but what I don’t understand is how “policy” has evolved into a mindset where peace officers can forget the mantra “Protect and Serve” and begin to treat their citizens as less than equal.
This incident happened at a time when a group of us, including this same friend, are working to bring a movie “My Name is Myeisha”, to the big screen. The movie is set in Riverside and chronicles the life of a 19-year-old girl who was shot and killed by police in 1998. I bring this up, not to be opportunistic, but instead as a reminder that this has and continues to be a problem that will not fix itself. We must be intentional. We must be creative. We must care.
I do not pretend to have an answer to this problem. I do however, ask you, the reader, what can we do to solve it? It is my hope, that as a community, we can come together and find a model that can be used throughout the country to minimize, if not eliminate, these types of escalated encounters.
VOICE & Black Voice News
Publisher’s Note: Patrick wrote this post after he learned from my husband Rickerby that our son had once again experienced a negative encounter with law enforcement when he and a friend were mistaken for burglary suspects in our neighborhood, a story I am not quite ready to share. I think he poses an important question to a problem we must use our collective intelligence to solve.