The general population of the United States is in an abusive relationship with the police force. It varies city by city and state by state, but it is a nationwide problem.
I realized the direct parallel while watching the video from Sandra Bland’s arrest.
While watching the video, I could hear the voices of many of my relatives in the back of my head. “Why didn’t she just comply? Why did she have to say “fuck”? Why did she antagonize him?” And it sounded exactly like the victim-blaming that still happens in many issues of domestic violence. “Why did she provoke him?” But this kind of thinking is really dangerous. Sandra Bland knew her rights, and she stuck up for them, and she probably died for them. And this is just one case, and it goes for both men and women in their interaction with officers who are supposed to be upholding the law.
And if you think that you are safe because you are white and middle or upper class, because you only break the law a little bit when it suits you, and because you grovel whenever you do come in a contact with an officer with a gun, then you are wrong. It is only a matter of time, because people with a gun and without a conscious, people who think they are above the law, people who think they deserve the perks they get, people who feel they have something to prove even when it crosses the line into violating the rights of others will not stop their actions. Maybe you’ll just be crossing a street somewhere at the wrong place or time, or they’ll get your house number mixed up with someone else in your neighborhood suspected of dealing drugs, or a neighbor will report a supposed domestic situation and they’ll come and kill your dog. Your status in this society is worth little to them, except for the fact at this point it’s a little harder to shut you up if they do cross the line. But with the growing wealth disparity, that is rapidly becoming a null point.
I still remember seeing my father completely change character when he was pulled over for a traffic infraction, and then again when we were working various summer festivals and a group of sheriffs would come over. (Married sheriffs who were asking the 19 year old girls working behind the counter for my dad to come out and party with them after their shift, by the way.) He would become completely servile and ingratiating, and when I asked him why after the first time I witnessed him doing this, he told me “You always respect someone with a gun.” We’ve come to a point in our society that that kind of thinking won’t fly. You can respect someone with a gun the way you would respect a dangerous or rabid animal, but until we all start being more vocal about the rights for every citizen in this country, we are going to see all of our lives grow more dangerous daily. And that is a travesty.