To be young and black in America today is to still fear being brutalized by police at any moment. Police should be trained and mandated to change their approach when dealing with youth because their current one is detrimentally affecting children’s lives.
In a recent video all over the web, a white police officer is witnessed terrorizing a kids’ pool party in an Oscar award-winning fashion. The now-suspended officer was responding to a disturbance call in McKinney, Texas, a predominantly white city (according to the Census).
Only the black kids were harassed and apprehended. This officer cursed at nearly every black youth, shouting at them to “get your ass out of here.”
Furious, he wrestles a 15-year-old girl in a bikini to the ground, pulling her braids, for allegedly not obeying one of his commands. “On your face!” he hollers.
Later he is seen drawing his gun on two other teens. What if the officer had purposely or “accidentally” shot, possibly killing, those kids as has happened many times recently?
In this case, I am happy to say we don’t have to add more names to the list that includes Michael Brown, VonDeritt Myers Jr., Tamir Rice and countless other unarmed black youth who were unjustly gunned down by white police officers.
You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that this officer’s actions were not only immoral but illegal. He demanded the children get down on the ground but had no justification for that. He immediately caused havoc without asking any questions.
I believe this is when a colleague needs to step in to calm his or her partner. Police officers need to rightfully enforce their peer responsibility of holding each other accountable for their actions, with consequence from their department for lack of effort. This would greatly help to prevent these harsh and unnecessary encounters.
To protect and serve the community is law enforcement’s well-known, traditional motto. However, these occurrences have proven that these officers are not living by that standard.
Watching the cop’s sickening performance in this video, which was difficult to do, was heartbreaking. I was instantly outraged and felt so much compassion for those innocent kids who were verbally, emotionally and physically abused.
I shared the video on my Facebook page and got many responses from people who were deeply angered, expressing their hate toward this cop and others everywhere.
This cop’s behavior reminded me of when I was a teen in Los Angeles: My friends and I would get stopped by police in our own neighborhoods for walking down the street, but were treated like we had just committed a murder. Occasions like this made me feel like I was guilty of something when I actually wasn’t.
As my mentor Scott Budnick says, these kids are victims long before they decide to victimize anyone else.
Alton Pitre is a 24-year-old native of Los Angeles. He is a juvenile justice ambassador, serves on the Member Board for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition and is a sociology major at Morehouse College.