The Hell of Being a Black Cop

“Attorney General William Barr claims that American policing does not suffer from institutional racism. Any Black officer will tell you that isn’t true.”

Former Police Officer Redditt Hudson
Former St. Louis Metro Police Officer Bill Monroe

[Ed. Note: The following comes from an August 31, 2020 article in The New Republic by Redditt Hudson. He is a former police officer and has written this seminal article about what it is to be “black and blue” — a police officer of color. Again, we have enormous work to do within and without the ranks of our nation’s police. We must begin this important conversation with honesty, transparency, change, and accountability.]

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Why Black officers have to be at the forefront of efforts to transform America’s racist police culture.

By Redditt Hudson

“Bill Monroe, now 75 years old, completed his service in the U.S. Army in 1967. The same year, he joined the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He told me about an altercation from those early years that has stuck with him and that has taken on a special resonance this year, in the midst of a once-in-a-generation debate over reforming American law enforcement.

“’I was leaving the old Eighth District station,’ he said, ‘and two white officers were bringing this brother they had in custody into the station. The brother was dressed real nice: double-knit slacks, silk shirt. Our eyes met. He said, “Brother don’t leave, don’t leave me, they’re going to fuck me up.” But I went on and got in my car and drove off. Then something hit me, something told me to go back, and I did. Sure enough, they had beat him bloody, took off part of his ear, blood all over his slacks and shirt.’”

“Monroe lashed out against one of the officers. The two men, one white, one Black, fought right there in the station. Monroe described a vicious fight while other officers looked on. He later learned that the two white officers had stopped the Black man because he had been in a car with a white woman. They didn’t like that. It turned out she was his wife.

“Monroe got a three-day suspension for the fight.

“Those were different times, you might say. But when I was a young officer in the Eighth District in the 1990s, I had to physically restrain a white officer who had suddenly begun brutally assaulting a young Black man. We were standing on his porch. The young man was already injured, on crutches, leaning on them in the doorway of his home. He had committed no crime; he had merely refused the officer, who had no warrant, entry to his home. So the officer decided to kick his Black ass.

“Attorney General William Barr claims that American policing does not suffer from institutional racism. Any Black officer will tell you that isn’t true. And I’m not only talking about an unarmed Black man being murdered by the likes of Derek Chauvin—a murder so vicious, so reprehensible, that it precipitated anti–police brutality protests across the world this summer. I’m also talking about the racist abuse that police in this country participate in daily, covering a range of harmful acts: violence, intimidation, trumped-up charges, plain old meanness.Attorney General William Barr claims that American policing does not suffer from institutional racism. Any Black officer will tell you that isn’t true

“And I’m talking about the racism against Black officers themselves. Over the course of his career, Bill Monroe carried multiple guns for his own protection—mostly from his fellow officers. This tension between white and Black officers has always been there, mitigated only by the personal relationships that develop between colleagues in a common space. But when something happens, that camaraderie falls apart. Quick.

“Black officers know all of this. Many are looking to fight it. Thanks to the George Floyd protests, and now the protests in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, there has been a lot of discussion about how to “reform” the police. People talk about sensitivity training and accountability and oversight. Some talk about defunding the police altogether. Black officers across this country are talking about something different: about how to fight institutional racism and white supremacy from within police departments; about how to hitch their efforts to the movement for Black Lives and for a true account of our national origins in slavery and genocide.

“Fairly or not, the onus has always disproportionately fallen on Black people, from the Civil War down to the civil rights movement, to make America more equal. The same could be said of one of the most pressing civil rights issues of our time: fixing the police…”

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Continue to read the full article from the New Republic by Redditt Hudson HERE.