will black men ever matter to police?

November 28, 2018
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As we all know, policing in America is an inherently racist practice, its systemic and operational racial biases free for all to see. So while we’re not surprised to hear stories of racist police corruption and how little value police in America place on Black lives, it’s important to continue to call out and report on the injustices happening to all Black people — and, in this case, Black men.

On Tuesday, down in the small Florida city of Biscayne Bay, a former police chief was found guilty of violating the rights of Black men in his jurisdiction by framing them for crimes they did not commit. Though he faced a maximum of 10 years, Raimundo Atesiano, was given a three-year sentence, which hardly feels like enough time for stealing countless innocent Black men’s lives. (Three other former Biscayne Bay officers also pleaded guilty in the case, receiving one- and two-year sentences.)

According to prosecutors, Black men were wrongfully arrested for numerous crimes, including burglaries and vehicle break-ins. “When I took the job, I was not prepared,” Atesiano told the judge, The Miami Herald reported. “I made some very, very bad decisions.” When in doubt? Blame Black men!

And when we say that the devaluing Black men’s lives by police is not surprising at this point, we mean it. In Hoover, Alabama, police officials are having a hard time explaining the killing of 21-year-old Emantic Bradford Jr. on Thanksgiving night, after police shot him dead in a case of mistaken identity. Police were investigating a shooting incident at Riverchase Galleria, the state’s largest enclosed mall, that left 18-year-old and a 12-year-old hospitalized; and according to a police statement, “While moving toward the shooting scene, one of the officers encountered a suspect brandishing a pistol and shot him.”

Of course, the problem is that brandishing a pistol—which Bradford had a legal permit for—is neither against the law, nor exactly newsworthy in Alabama. But just being a Black man with a weapon was cause enough for police to take this man’s life, no questions asked.

“I will never be able to see my son’s face again or to look into his eyes or to hear him say, ‘Mom, I love you,’” April Pipkins said of her son, adding since her son was shot in the face, an open casket might not be possible.

It’s almost as if the value of Black men lives is negligible to police departments across the country. Like an epidemic even, of people in power viewing our lives as expendable and inconsequential. We don’t get the benefit of the doubt or presumed innocence, just guilt on site.