Current Events

Dear Police…I Don’t Care That You Milly Rock On Any Block

On March 18, Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old Black man was murdered in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento Police after the police claim his cell phone was a gun. While many Black people were dealing with the devastation of yet another murder by the police, just days later, Saheed Vassell, a 35-year-old Black man, diagnosed with bipolar disorder was murdered by the police, who claim the showerhead he was holding, looked like a gun. The news of Vassell’s death came on my Twitter feed just as I was about to teach a workshop to Black youth on the 50th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination. How could I stand in front of them and tell them that their lives mattered when everything in the world is telling them that was not the case? Even Faith Linthicum, a nurse that was fired for saying that Stephon Clark deserved to die, raised over 20,000 dollars on GoFundMe. Being racist has always been lucrative in America.

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I watched the funeral of Stephon Clark, and my heart shattered. I was once again in this awkward space, mourning children that I never birthed, mentally preparing to bury children that were never biologically mine. But somehow, they all were mine. Trayvon, Aiyana, Sandra, Mike, Rekia, and now Stephon. They were my brothers, my sisters, my cousins, my sons, my daughters…

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Stephon Clark’s brother, Stevante Clark Photo:Josh Edelson

This photo of Stephon’s brother, Stevante captured everyhing that I was feeling. On one hand, fighting for justice, screaming Black Lives Matter with a megaphone yet agonizing and in despair at the same time. How strong are we required to be?  I wanted to keep fighting but I needed a moment to grieve. I needed to take my mind off the state of Black people in this nation. Just one moment to breathe. I scrolled through my Facebook feed looking for images of cute cats and puppies and as if on cue, CNN posted a video of an officer in Chattanooga, Tennessee dancing with Black people.

The Facebook thread of this video had thousands of positive comments. And I sat looking at this officer dancing just shaking my head. Don’t get me wrong. I do not think that ALL police are bad. I believe some people join the police force to be a positive influence in their community. I believe some police officers really want to make this world a better place. I believe some police officers genuinely believe and live out the mantra of protecting and serving the people. However, I will always believe no matter how good a police officer may be; they are part of a corrupt system. It is fruit from a poisonous tree.

This has been pointed out numerous times online and my friend posted it on his Twitter feed.

Hello! It seems EVERY TIME there is a police shooting up pops a video of an officer, in full uniform, breakdancing, pop locking, voguing, duckwalking, twerking, moonwalking, or doing the Single’s Ladies dance. These videos, of course, go viral and is a convenient way for people to say, “See not ALL police are bad. They know traditionally Black dances.”

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REALLY?  Being able to have a little blue-eyed soul? Being able to clap on the beat? Being able to move with rhythm? Is that the measuring stick? One stanky leg and ya’ll ready to invite EVERYONE to the cookout! 

I DO NOT CARE that an officer can break dance.

I DO NOT CARE that an officer can do the electric slide.

I DO NOT CARE that an officer knows every step to Single Ladies and Formation.

I DO NOT CARE that an officer can Milly Rock on any block.

Dancing with Black people means NOTHING TO ME!

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Because I know you can dance with a Black person one minute and pull out your gun and kill an unarmed Black person in the next moment.

You can electric slide with Black people one minute and refuse to stand up against your fellow officers that have murdered Black people in the next minute.

You can pop lock with a Black male one minute and have your knee on his back the next minute.

You can hit dem folks with a Black woman one minute and be raping her in the back of your squad car the next minute.

I will be impressed when you Michael Jackson moonwalk your way into your sergeant’s office and tell them an officer used unnecessary force.

I will dance alongside you when you Cabbage Patch your way to the witness stand and say, “I was corrupt, and so were members of my unit.”

I will pop lock when you say, “I am not supporting this officer with my money on their GoFund Me page because when they murdered an innocent person they were wrong.”

I will start stomping my feet to the beat when you admit that you used deadly force when it was not necessary.

I will clap my hands to the rhythm when you stand up and say Black men and women have been unjustly targeted by the police.

I will dance at your wedding when you admit THE TRUTH, that you NEVER feared for your life, that you NEVER thought a cellphone or wallet was a gun, that your so called FEAR was driven by racism.

You, Dear Officer, are blinded if you believe our dances are for you to co-opt to show solidarity.

When we sang songs, it was not for your entertainment. We sang songs that were melodies for freedom.

When we danced, our feet moved in tune to our liberation!

When we sway to NWA or Kendrick Lamar it is a war cry!

With every beat of the drum and movement of our bodies, we were dancing towards freedom and that, Dear Officer, can NEVER be replicated.

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7 replies »

  1. Instead of trying to fix their reputation with these shitty little feel good posts, they need to fix the shoddy, and corrupt system in which they willingly participate.

    They have forgotten they are ALL complicit in a system in which no one is held accountable for killing hundreds of Black people, no matter how good an individual they think they are. The standard they walked past was the standard they accepted. If they see wrong being done , and do absolutely nothing to stop it, they are just as complicit.

    They’re supposed to right wrongs, and they’re too afraid of their fellow officers to stand up against them.

    How do we know the system is corrupt? They punish people for doing the correct thing.

  2. I wholeheartedly agree. Community policing is part of the issue I think. I’m too many instances, it seems as though the police force think they are policing a community they are not part of, creating a them/us division, rather than being from within the community they serve and protect (rather than simply police) and creating bonds with their community. When you wrote about the dancing, it made me think of that issue of them/us because it suggests that the officers are thinking that for that instant they will join in with community members, participate in something they are doing, but the “humor” arises from the fact they are doing something alien to them, something other. Fish out of water. Not really part of that community. Them and us. Then the music ends and it’s back to policing and not serving and protecting. I feel like your list of suggestions for how police officers can actually impact meaningful change within their organizations should be issued to every officer. They need also to feel compelled to raise their voices against the systemic failings in their organizations. They need to recognize that silence is complicity.

  3. I agree; all that feel-good officer-friendly PR BS
    is a sickening distraction;
    I’ve seen drug dealers
    play music
    and dance and hand out toys & snacks to children,
    so police PR
    BS is just like organized crime PR BS.

    There are good cops, but the reason we say
    good cop
    is because there are BAD COPS;

    Good Cop
    BAD COP.

    50/50?

    I don’t know; it’s a scale
    but even if YOU ARGUE that 95% of cops are good cops
    5% BAD COPS IS DOZENS
    OF BAD COPS
    for every 500 or more;

    EVEN 5 BAD COPS
    per 100 is too many;

    EVEN 1 BAD COP in 20 is too many.

    2 BAD COPs are 2 many;
    1 BAD COP is too many,
    and why are “good cops” afraid of bad cops?

    Back to your lead, about
    Stephon Clark and all the BS sympathy for
    the nurse who said he deserved to die
    (sounds like justification for ‘good-ol’-boy’ lynching):

    Don’t get me started on free speech;
    I’ve been fired when cops
    went to my
    employers to get me fired because of complaints:
    “You went to his employer, so we went to yours.”
    THAT’S a violation of our free-speech rights, but
    a *NURSE* who says a Black man/’suspect’
    deserves to die for being stupid
    deserves to be fired
    from a job where she could kill
    or cause death or suffering
    by flat-out murder
    or by with-holding or delaying
    medical CARE, as in this case,
    which ALSO involved
    Public Trust (or reasonable
    SUSPICION of violations of Public TRUST).

    She should also have her nursing license revoked.

    Her job
    like that of hired guns
    involves Public Trust and
    Presumption of good judgement
    in life-&-death
    situations; cops & nurses
    who cannot be trusted with
    life-&-death judgement calls
    should not be entrusted
    with others’ lives & welfare…

    Firing a NURSE
    with demonstrated bad judgement
    with respect to who deserves to be killed,
    or allowed to die
    by with-holding medical care?

    Such a NURSE
    with such
    bad judgement
    deserves to be fired;
    firing such a NURSE was a demonstration
    of good judgement by her employer; and I
    speak as one who rarely fired anyone, but
    insisted on firing a NURSE who persistently
    endangered
    the health & lives of patients
    (and also got my boss fired for falsifying
    medical diagnostic records:
    a felony).

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