I recently came across a blog post from a fellow blogger who posted regarding the Chicago police’s recent “excessive force”–I call it an attack– on a pregnant woman and her boyfriend.
Lucinda White, 29, called the police to intervene in a disagreement regarding a car accident dispute. White accused the man of hitting her car, which he denied, and she called Springfield police to resolve the situation. White’s boyfriend, Frederic Thomas, 31, became upset with the denying offender and was asked to leave the scene by a police officer. He refused and the officer threatened to arrest him. The officer called for backup and then sought to physically remove White’s boyfriend. The police report states that the officer told Thomas multiple times to stop yelling and cursing. When Thomas asked if the officer was going to arrest him for yelling, the officer said he would. The officer tried to arrest Thomas, who resisted. White tried to calm and restrain Thomas from resisting when a second officer approached the scene.
The video footage begins with White appearing to separate her boyfriend and the police officer.
Another officer then approaches the scene, he first tasers Thomas, before attempting to throw White to the ground. She repeatedly screams that she is pregnant, while he commands her to get on the ground. Then he tasers her.
White later states,”I’m pulling on my daughter’s father. I did not touch a police officer. I know not to touch a police officer.” Paul Newton, an employee at ABC NewsChannel 20 witnessed the incident and stated, ‘They told her get down on the ground face down, and she’s trying to plead with them “I can’t get on the ground, I’m pregnant. I can’t do that,” and they told her once again. And she, she’s just trying to plead with them and then right away they hit her with the taser.’
Okay, I couldn’t resist revising this post to include the recent Reese Witherspoon arrest. I do so because it warms my heart to see this blue-eyed, blonde girl take the same attitude as both White and Thomas regarding the police’s definition of “obstruction of justice.”
Witherspoon, who’s husband was being arrested on DUI charges, got out of the vehicle to question the officer’s actions. The officer ordered her to get back in the car to which Witherspoon responded, “I am an American citizen. I am allowed to stand on U.S. soil and ask questions.” I love it! This is perfect evidence that this issue with police aggression is not just a Black thing. Nor are the reactions of White and Thomas the result of their being Black or “ghetto” or “hood.” It is, instead, the result of American people (at least in some ways) resisting the constant fear mongering, bullying, and over-reaching of the American government and its representatives.
All too often police officers carry an air of cockiness about their authority. They demand considerations that are not warranted or deserved. It is apparent that White’s boyfriend lost his cool. In no account of this story is there evidence that he posed a physical threat to the people who hit his car or the officer. The officer may claim to have been trying to keep order in the situation or remove White’s boyfriend before the problem escalated but the truth is he sought to force the man into submissive obedience to his commands. Since White’s boyfriend did not acquiesce but instead challenged the officer’s authority to command him and possibly arrest him, the officer escalated the situation by becoming physical with the man. It should be noted that the second officer approached the scene and, without consulting his colleague or anyone about the situation, and immediately began using his taser. Fueled by irrationality he turned and assaulted a pregnant woman and tried to throw her to the ground. One has to ask if a 8 month pregnant woman really presented such a threat that she needed to be detained on the ground?
Police officer’s frequently take liberties and advantage of their authority which creates a dynamic in which civilians feel bullied and threatened. Under the protection of their badges, police will go to the extreme of force to prove their authority. It is an egregious abuse of their position and often a violation of everyday people’s civil liberties.
Human interaction is a dynamic that depends upon the context created by the individual’s involved. A fascinating article by psychologist Philip Zimbardo of the infamous Stanford Experiment discusses the notion of how individuals placed in certain situations can be inspired to great acts of evil. Zimbardo addresses the concept in a book entitled The Lucifer Effect. Zimbardo asserts the issue is:
the dominant view in individualistic cultures, like ours in the United States, is entirely dispositional. We are excessively focused on the Person, as solitary actor on an empty stage delivering his or her soliloquy improvised from a free will core. We ignore the fact that every person is embedded in a social setting of co-actors, with varying costumes and props, and stage managers, and learned scripts. Most of us play roles so often and so long that we forget it is a role as it becomes who and what we are. Even more difficult to get the general public to accept is the power of systems to create, maintain and justify those situations that so significantly influence individual and group action.
The overall premise is that all individuals hold the capacity for “good” and “evil.” The problem is that society seems excuses police officers and institutional leaders such as teachers, politicians, government officials, medical professionals, lawyers, judges, religious leaders etc. from such natural human capacities. They pretend as if these individuals someone hold some altruistic gene that elude the populous. Therefore, these individuals are always believed to be acting in good faith and in the interest of the greater good–despite the many instances to the contrary. The idea of these individuals as possible agents of evil should not be so hard to believe. We live in a society that constantly focuses on the individual and promotes the notion of exploiting people and situations for personal benefit.
If we are ever going to address and rectify the abuse of power in this country, we will first have to accept that no man is infallible or above reproach. Especially not those with the power, influence, and authority to manipulate the system.
I’m not sayin’; I’m just sayin’,
An Angry Black Man