I would not have a problem with police, if they lived up to their own ideals. If I saw them equally enforcing the law, rather than having a kiddie gloves law for the upper classes of society, and an iron fist law for anyone who cannot afford get out of jail free cards. If I saw any concern for justice, or community, instead of greedy revenue collection for the state. Protect and serve does not seem to apply to anyone outside the status quo of the American power structure. Seek and destroy seems to be the policy when it comes to anyone without money and prestige, who just wants to live on their own lands, left alone, in peace.
I do not have a problem with peace makers, well-governed, and accountable to the community they serve. Yet more often than keeping peace, officers in America seem to purposefully escalate situations into blood and tragedy. Too many bloodthirsty, trigger-happy, sociopaths think a badge, blue uniform, and a gun give them a license to kill or behave as a tyrant of some micro kingdom of a couple city streets.
If massive hypocrisy, racism, and corruption did not poison and make any pretense of justice in this country into an illusion, perhaps I could support the police institution in America. Yet fuck the system we see today, that institutionalizes police forces toward violence and corruption. Fuck the brutality and intimidation many police departments seem to be addicted to. Fuck a coward who would shoot a taser at an 8 year old girl, like happened to a Native girl in Pierre, SD recently. Fuck a sociopath who would rather see a human life bleed out through numerous bullet holes, than resolve a conflict with non-lethal means. Fuck a racist troglodyte who pursues authority only to use it as a tool to enforce his toxic worldview. These are just crooks with badges. The blue costume they wear while they commit these atrocities gives them no excuse.
The US is becoming particularly bad. What we have in the US seems to be the institutionalization of psychopathy and the abuse of authority. Law seems installed only for the asset protection of the wealth elite and their property. And with the corporate dominance of all things in the US, including law, the law starts to look like a series of hypocritical political pacts. Police merely impose the rules of the corporation, which, without any say from the majority, have become the law.
I’m one of those people who never felt safe around police. Red and blue lights always make me nervous. Those lights mean I’m about to be harassed for minding my own business walking down a street. Those lights mean maybe someone I care about is going to be taken away for doing nothing. Like the time a friend got hauled off in a squad car, because the cop “saw a green film” on his teeth, which of course, meant he was smoking marijuana, even though he tested clean. Those lights symbolize my people being only 10 percent of the state population, while accounting for 90 percent of the prison population. Those lights are oppression. Those lights are a shark gliding through the waters, looking for someone in my community to prey upon.
As a kid living in Nebraska, I learned there was certain places I couldn’t walk. Just walking past certain car dealerships would result in the cops being called. I would then be accused of throwing rocks, or grilled about nothing. I remember delivering newspapers, the cops would be called on me. Apparently a Native kid can’t have a job, without being accused of suspiciously skulking about the property.
I’ve had the cops called on me just for visiting a friend who lived in a decent neighborhood in a very homogeneous town. I’ve had to talk to the cops who were skeptical I lived in an apartment building, and was there because I had a home there, not because I was up to something nefarious. Cops seem to assume around Nebraska, South Dakota, that if you’re Native, you’re automatically guilty of something. They seem to think its their duty to find some charge to stick to you, even if you’re doing nothing, and want to be left alone to go about your day. Even trying to avoid them, it seems many cops go out of their way to try to antagonize and provoke a conflict.
I’ve had friends (Natives) who were attacked on their property, and they ended up being taken to jail, rather than the ones who came to their house and attacked them (white rednecks). Even if the other two women sought them out, in their own house, somehow it must be the Native women’s fault, seemed to be the police mentality.
In Rapid City and elsewhere, I’ve had friends subjected to undue harassment, legal bullying, inordinate long jail sentences. A cousin of mine was bullied for a year by the Rapid City courts trying to stick a weapons charge on him for having a plastic toy gun. They knew the family had a hard time making it to Rapid for the court dates, so they would cancel and reschedule each time without telling us, hoping that we’d miss one, and they could charge him with failure to appear. They wouldn’t mention it was rescheduled until we’d made the drive to Rapid.
Other friends have been given huge jail sentences for minor offences. Many friends and family have been pulled over and harassed. The license plates that indicate they are from a reservation make them an easy target.
This last weekend, a Native man was executed by the Rapid City police. This happened a day after a Native led protest against police brutality took place. It is hard not to read that execution as a statement. The protest declared Native Lives Matter. The next day, the cops seemed to say “not much”.
The police say the man who was executed charged them with a knife. Others say all he had was a cell phone. Either way, the cops saw fit to issue him a death sentence. They seem to have forgot how to use their tasers. They did not shoot him once. One shot might be called self-defense. They shot him five times. Five shots is an execution any way you look at it.
I’m glad scrutiny and criticism and action is being directed toward the police by the Native community. The cops here have too often enforced the law in a lopsided, prejudiced way. I’m glad there is some pushback to them killing us, imprisoning us, harassing us, for no reason other than cowboy attitudes and ignorance. I see this execution as an attempt to intimidate and silence. I hope it accomplishes the opposite.
There is a huge Civil Rights struggle to be fought, and Rapid City and all these other little frontier towns are the front lines. All the misery, death, oppression surrounding the relations between cops and Natives comes into being through ignorance. A mentality that views Natives as sub-human persists throughout the American heartland. If they can cling to the caricature of the drunk, miscreant, do-no-good, Native, they will use it to justify these excesses of brutality and punishment.
Yet we know our lives matter. We know our family and friends matter, and the loss of their freedom, the loss of their lives, should not be taken lightly. We were here on this land before the sick mentality that says we’re nothing but fodder for a six-shooter, or money to be milked from making us wards of the prison system arrived. I hope someday when seeing a cop car, I could remark to a friend “better go, before we get arrested for being native in the park”, and it would not have an undertone of truth and seriousness. I hope we fight to be seen as human instead of dangerous sub-human animals until that day arrives.