This morning I was doing some errands and I started thinking about the police and how even though I’m white (and that plays a big part in how I interact with the police), I still don’t trust the police. And there are so many reasons why there should be mistrust and criticism of police – like how a black woman named Kamilah Brock spent 8 days in a mental health facility because she owned (and was driving) a BMW. (Brock was arrested after being questioned by police for dancing at a stoplight – something I as a white person do every single day without harassment because my whiteness protects me on so many levels.)
I’ve written about prisons before – like the relationship between slavery and mass incarceration and how corporations and wealthy people profit off of prisons. And it’s so important to continuously acknowledge the ways in which the US police force is just an extension of slavery and white supremacy and the 12 double standards that expose the white supremacy mindset of police. (Also, adding diversity to the force? Jamelle Bouie wrote about how diverse police departments won’t end police misconduct.)
There are plenty of cases in which police departments have problems with abuse of mentally ill individuals (sometimes resulting in death). The Justice Department found a pattern of abuse in the Portland OR police department back in 2012 and a study from the Portland Press Herald in Maine found that nearly half of the people shot by police in that state had mental health problems.
Since the death of Mike Brown in August 2014 and Eric Garner a month before that, police brutality in relation to race has also been discussed and addressed (particularly with the #BlackLivesMatter protests). I’ve written in relation to this before – writing about the #SayHerName demonstrations that protest police brutality and abuse against black women.
I admit that my whiteness buys me a lot of privilege in regards to so many things, including how the police interact with me. But at the same time, knowing the patterns of how police interact with those struggling with mental illness, people and communities of colors, and other things, I definitely don’t trust the police the way I was taught to growing up as a white kid.