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Let's not Start by Blaming the Victims

On May 29th the possibility of adding the names—to a deadly list that includes Eric Garner and Sandra Bland, among many others, was the addition of Dravon Ames and family.  Stopped by police in a nearby parking lot after leaving a Family Dollar store, police found it necessary to body slam, Mr. Ames, handcuff his pregnant spouse and leave their children in the arms of a stranger; allegedly over a stolen doll and underwear. Hence, the media campaign of victim blaming has started.  Before the end of this latest saga of police paranoia over the expectations of uncontrollable violent behavior from black men and women, I guarantee Mr. Ames will be likened to thugs, dead beat dads, drug dealers, and addicts over the next few days.

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What I find interesting in this incident of obvious brutality and disrespect of the black family is that Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams, despite an apology from Mayor Kate Gallego, has gone to great pains to protect the identity of her officers. As of this writing, I am still unaware of the names of the police officers involved but hopefully, they will be offered up on the same plate of public scrutiny to have their lives devoured as Mr. Ames and his partner undoubtedly will have done to them.

I am a proponent of good law enforcement, they play a pivotal role in the safety of all of us; but when they are wrong, I am angry at their defenders who would persecute a man and his family for losing momentary sight of their four-year-old, who is accused of thievery. I do not know the family in question, but I do know that a young man, his pregnant partner, and two young girls were rendered helpless, afraid, battered and separated by overzealous policing.  Luckily it did not end in a tragic death; this time.  

What lots of people miss, in these too often repeated confrontations with black people and the police, is the lack of concern for black families by officers and the dismissal of their human reactions. If you think this is an exaggeration I point to the Philando Castillo case.  If your family was ordered from your vehicle with some of the vilest language possible with your kids and wife in earshot, you tried your best to comply respectfully, attempts are made to violently rip a child from the arms of a loved one, and you see your pregnant spouse handcuffed, any human would react in anger. On the contrary black men, women and families are placed in a position of abject terror and only cowering acquiescence may save their lives. Any attempts at the verbal recovery of one’s dignity are met with inhumane abuse. I understand the police must maintain control for their safety and the safety of surrounding bystanders, but apparently, this was not applicable because a stranger intervened to hold a crying child because the police insisted on cuffing a crying, pregnant and scared woman.  

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Even more frightening the men and women tasked with the job to ‘protect and serve’ brought about the decision by a mother to trust a stranger with her child or place her on the hot ground risking injury. When one of my sons was caught taking a candy bar from a local store in grade school, I took him back to the store, had him return the candy, apologize to the clerk, and he pledged to sweep the store daily for a week.  

Simple humanity and compassion should not be tarnished because a polished badge is pinned on the chest of a less than shiny cop.    

Vote in 2020 for Change.  

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