Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why The PO PO Is No Friend to the Black Child

'APD car hdr' photo (c) 2009, Jim Legans, Jr - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
I have written previously about why I disagree with schools teaching kids about officer friendly. To be clear, cops have a long history of targeting people of colour for arrests, violence and death.  What they may be willing to let go from a White man, woman, or child, they certainly do not give a pass to when it comes to people of colour.  If a person is negotiating a second site of oppression, like disability or sexuality, it can cause a marked increase in abusive behaviour.

Children of colour have to be actively taught how to appear in a non threatening manner with police because it might well save their lives. Yep, announcing what you are doing clearly and loudly.  Never ever touch your body unless directed to. Keep you hands on the wheel and visible at all times at a traffic stop.  Be exceedingly polite calling the cop, officer or sir. Never raise your voice or be anything but compliant. Never hesitate for even the briefest of moments to follow a direct order.  Etc and Etc.

This all must occur because the police are no friend to Black people, as one young boy found out the hard way.
Gray says the school, Rio Calaveras Elementary of Stockton, wanted to change that behavior by having Michael meet with a school police officer.

"He could come out and talk to Michael and the kids are normally scared straight," said Gray, describing how she says the school district proposed the meeting.

But the meeting didn't go as planned.

Gray says Michael was agitated when the officer entered the room, and the whole meeting ended with Michael arrested and cuffed, with zip ties on his hands and his feet.

"I was led to believe that Michael saw a police officer and attacked a police officer on sight," said Gray, adding that that's not what happened.

She knows because she ultimately obtained a copy of the police report.

In it, the officer, Lt. Frank Gordo, says he placed his hand on Michael's and, "the boy pushed my hand away in a batting motion, pushed papers off the table, and kicked me in the right knee."

When Michael wouldn't calm down, Gordo cuffed Michael's hands and feet with zip ties and took the boy to the Stockton Kaiser Psychiatric Hospital in the back of a squad car.

He had not called Michael's mother or father at that point.

Michael was cited for battery on a police officer. (source)
Apparently, the poor child was zip tied for several hours.  How exactly did a five year old child constitute a threat to a grown ass man?  Oh, I know, he is Black and has been identified with a disability, and so of course he's a threat. Tell me again about officer friendly.  Clearly, Michael felt threatened and his flight or fight instinct kicked in.  At no time in the exchange, could the officer have felt like he was in actual danger from this child.

By detaining in him such a manner, what did this cop teach Michael, but that his response was correct and that cops are truly a threat?  Thank goodness the judge had the good sense to throw out this case.  I do think Micheal's detainment is evidence of how willing cops are to incarcerate Black people. He knew that he was going into a meeting with a child that had behavioural issues due to ADHD, but apparently, his fee fees were hurt, and so instead, he chose harm as a form of vengeance. I wouldn't be surprised if Michael is burdened with even more issues after this incident.

The other thing that pisses me off about this is that Micheael was treated like a criminal by the school instead of offering him help.  A five year old child with ADHD does not need to be scared straight. What he needs is patience, understanding, and perhaps alternative means of learning.  Once again money played a role in what Micheal was offered, and yet we are lead to believe that children constitute a special class that require our devotion and care. Anyone who has spent five minutes with a five year old, will tell you that they don't often think through their actions, and cannot always process whatever emotions they are feeling. This is of course heightened with a child who has ADHD, but I suppose Micheal's Blackness made these facts irrelevant.

I hope to hell Micheal's parents sue not only the school board for this ridiculous practice, but the cop who abused their child.  There can be no doubt that placing a five year old in a zip tie for several hours is child abuse, and not about enforcing the law.  I further believe that the cop should have this noted on his permanent record, because if he can treat a child of colour this, one cannot help but wonder what he is capable of  when interacting with other POC.