There has been a centuries long battle between these two factions who occupy the same space and time but who ultimately live within different worlds and have differing agendas.
Back before Black people has "any rights that a White man need respect" the White police officer was an agent of oppression. His job was to keep people in their place as a key agent of social control. (To be most accurate - poor White immigrants were subject to such control by the police as well. Their White skin allowed them to assimilate and "grow out of the problem".)
The White cop as has always been seen as the agents of the government, sent into the Black community as an occupying force. They are the authority. The authority was corrupt and racist for the balance of our nation's existence. In as much as some elements of the Black community were "anti-establishment" because the establishment did not have our best interests in mind - the natural conflict between these two groups was set in motion.
The fact that Blacks largely entered this nation via the route of slavery set this course in motion in a large measure. People who have a sense of ownership in their own communities are the primary force that will protect their own property from lawlessness lest they be the primary losers in the waning chaos. In as much as Black people being economically and politically marginalized in that regard - this culture of ownership did not take root.
The history of police violence against Black people and the resulting "We're sick and tired of being sick and tired" riots that followed is one for the history books. The embedded police force responded to the assault on the order with yet more brutal tactics as a means of suppressing the insurgency. They blamed the riots on certain opportunists - which was true. The bigger truth, however, is that a major dose of introspection was necessary from their own ranks in order to understand why "the natives are restless".
On paper things have changed but in large measure they remain the same.
The past 30 years have brought forth an influx of Black Democratic mayors and/or Progressive minded mayors over these big cities with big police forces that patrol their big Black population centers. Since these police officers all ultimately report to and are accountable to the mayor - on paper we have a favorable situation in addressing the negative contributions that the police make into the conflict.
Sadly - what looks good on paper does not always translate well in regards to what actually transpires on the streets. Whereas the Black community sought the path of POLITICAL POWER as a means of addressing various economic, cultural and academic challenges that we face - the fact remains that POLITICS can only address that which is fundamentally political in nature. To a large extent some of the fundamental challenges that are faced by the Black community are not subject to solution by having a favorable balance of liberal Democrats in power over our community. Not that real world evidence to this fact will ever stop this placement drive.
As a voracious consumer of the news, crime reality shows (Cops, American Gangster, Gangland etc) and various documentaries I am well aware as to the impact that the Black criminal element and organized "Drug Thug" gangs have in this continuing conflict. It is not the case that various elements within the Black community are innocent victims who are being assaulted by this oppressive authority. If anything INNOCENT BLACKS being attacked by thugs set the tone for the level of violence and the resulting police responses there in.
The cycle as I see it is that the increase in crime and violence in a given Black community triggers community activists to demand more police protection and/or the external outrage over the growth in crime in particular areas following the release of some crime report triggers the police officials to adopt certain tactics of "aggressive policing" as a means of focusing upon and then rooting out the criminal element in a given area.
While these tactics have been effective at clamping down on crime they also increase the chances of "collateral damage". The tragic situation with Amadou Diallo in New York City and the events that lead up to the shooting of 92 year old Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta were both done in the context of "aggressive policing" of specific crime ridden communities. The balance between safety for the law abiding citizens and the police assuming an expanded set of people as criminals needs to be managed carefully.
I am of the opinion that the ultimate solution for reducing the tensions and the incidents between Blacks and law enforcement is organic in nature. There are certain fibers in the fabric of this relationship that need to be reenforced over time and repaired where tears appear. The following elements are critical to improving the relationship:
- More community invovlement in and ownership of the conditions of their own communities via the formation of more community groups that are focused on the PEOPLE rather than THE COPS. They should provide more adult supervised events for the formation of certain positive civic values in the young people
- More police interaction at community events. Regular "home owners" meetings at which the police command comes in and provides details about what they are seeing on the streets and how the residents can help. Today these meetings typically occur after a police incident where tempers are flairing. The meetings BETWEEN the incidences are more important
- A clear and unified front against the criminal element. The thugs need to know that they are breaking "OUR" laws rather than "THEIR" laws - "They" being the people at city hall.