Susan K. Smith
There is an adage that says, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.”
That seems to be the situation when it comes to the way many police officers treat people of color. Whether a suspect is male or female, if he or she is Black or Hispanic or any identity other than white, the likelihood of excessive police violence is likely.
Columbus police officers verbally abused, punched, and kicked Timothy Davis when they arrested him more than four years ago.
Last month, a jury denied all claims Davis’ civil rights were violated by the eight officers and the City of Columbus.
Black people, especially, are seen as particular threats, with police saying they had to use excessive force because they were “in fear for their lives.”
They are trained to regard Black and brown people as “the enemy” and in training, a so-called “warrior mindset” is cultivated.
The so-called “fear for my life” argument has no weight when a suspect is running away, or, as was in the case of Timothy Davis and other Columbus police officers who beat him, a suspect has been wrestled to the floor.
The “warrior mindset” seems to intersect with a prevalent belief that Black people are worse than whites, more dangerous, and therefore, more worthy of what we see as excessive violence. What officers share, however, is that they are acting as they have been trained.
They are following protocol.
There are beliefs and myths about Black people that have governed the way white officers police them from the beginning of policing in this country.
White people have historically been deputized to keep Black people in line, to stay in place.
Efforts by Black people to challenge police are reasons to exert force, where in similar situations involving a white suspect, white police officers seem much more pliant and patient.