How the Police See Us, and How They Train Us to See Them

The true horror of the video is that there is a video at all, that Reynolds knows just what to do.

…Reynolds knows to de-escalate the situation by being reassuring, even encouraging, to the man who just shot her boyfriend. She knows that her boyfriend is likely to die. She knows to document everything, to give her own accounting of events, to create a record.

…“I told him not to reach for it!” the officer shrieks.

“You told him to get his ID, sir,” Reynolds softly corrects. It isn’t until she’s handcuffed in the back of the police cruiser that she finally breaks down and sobs.

… A black person’s rights, even inalienable ones, can be stripped from them without due process. And, almost always, an officer who does so won’t be convicted of any wrongdoing.

…In a vacuum, police officers shouldn’t kill the very citizens they swear to protect.

…In a vacuum, it isn’t natural to pre-emptively shoot people to death, just as, in a vacuum, it isn’t natural to keep your gun trained on a person who has been rendered incapacitated and is bleeding out before you. This is specialized behavior, the sort expected from military forces entering unfamiliar war zones. Soldiers are trained to consider everyone and everything a potential threat, to neutralize any man, woman or child who could potentially cause them harm. The highest priorities are to protect themselves and to accomplish their mission, and that requires the trained dehumanization of the local population. In such an environment, the burden of not killing is lifted from the soldiers, and local people are tasked with the burden of not provoking death.

… This is seen as just, supported by the conceit that black citizens brought this upon themselves. The aggressive posture of the police, the fear that every man reaching for a wallet may be reaching for his weapon, only deepens. And everyone insisting on black citizens’ rights — to life, to due process, even to bear arms — is blamed for instigating violence against the police.

How the Police See Us, and How They Train Us to See Them – The New York Times


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