(A song by Lee Williams)
You can’t run, You can’t hide
There’s no need, No need to try
You Don’t know when or how he’s coming
You just can’t get by, help me tell ’em.
Oh devil is like a policeman
Traveling through this land, he’s serving
A death notice to every woman and man
You’re gonna need a lawyer, if I were you that’s the next thing I would do
Just as sure as you’re sitting here tonight one day he’s got a warrant for you, but you know what
I love this song by brother Lee Williams. Not only do the lyrics serve as a dire warning to sinners and wayward Christians but the metaphor used by Mr. Williams in the first line of the first verse–comparing the devil to a policeman–has become a particularly poignant reality in the day-to-lives of MANY black people in America.
In America, there is no place for a black man, woman, or child to hide from police brutality. He has attacked us on the street and in our homes, and killed us for the slightest alleged provocation and it didn’t just start with the cellphone-recorded killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
400 YEARS OF BRUTALITY
According to Jennifer Cobbina, a criminal justice professor at Michigan State University, “Law enforcement officials across the U.S. have a much longer history of killing black people.”
She goes on to say, “Too often people look at the contemporary issue, the issue that is going on right now but not understanding that all that is happening is seeped in 400 years of legacy of injustice…These past grievances, past harms by law enforcement, need to be addressed before even attempting to move forward.”
POLICE FORCE ROOTS
During the American Slavery era, groups of organized white men “policed” blacks. These organized groups of white men were known as SLAVE PATROLS. The activities of these SLAVE PATROLS helped launch centuries of violent and racist behavior toward black Americans, as well as a tradition of protests and uprisings against police brutality.
In the early 1600’s–the slave population in America was at low enough number to not be particularly threatening to whites. During this time, the British Colonials in America used a watchmen system, where citizens of towns and cities would patrol their communities to prevent burglaries, arson and maintain order. THERE WAS NO ORGANIZED POLICE FORCE!
However, when the number of slaves began to grow larger “SLAVE PATROLS” were formed in South Carolina and expanded to other Southern states” according to Sally Hadden, a history professor at Western Michigan University who researches SLAVE PATROLS.
SLAVE PATROLS were tasked with hunting down runaways and suppressing “rebellions” amid fear of enslaved people rising up against their white owners, who were often outnumbered.
The SLAVE PATROL was a volunteer force consisting of white men who surveyed and attacked black people and anyone who tried to help them escape. “Everything that you can think of that a police officer can do today, they did it,” said Sally Hadden.
SLAVE PATROLS were NOT designed to protect public safety in the broadest sense but rather to protect WHITE WEALTH!
A CHILD IS BORN!
After the abolition of slavery in 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment toward the end of the Civil War, slave patrols were replaced by MODERN POLICE DEPARTMENTS.
Even though slavery had been abolished, African Americans were STILL being heavily policed by POLICE/SLAVE PATROLS especially in areas that passed black codes, or laws that restricted property ownership, employment and other behaviors.
Some law enforcement and other government officials became members of the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups who terrorized black communities, carried out lynchings and destroyed black schools, churches, and homes.
Even if the POLICE FORCE members were not members of these hate groups, the groups enjoyed special protection under the law enforcement umbrella.
The Ku Klux Klan could often count on empathy or active assistance at the time from Law Enforcement.
When black Americans protested against segregation and other racist laws, “law enforcement” officials were often called in. During the civil rights era, images of police brutally suppressing peaceful activists, including with the use of dogs and fire hoses, in part helped usher in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
SLAVE PATROLS HAD A BABY AND THEY NAMED IT POPO!
That little baby–birthed by SLAVE PATROLS–is now FULL GROWN!
-WENEI PHILIMON | USA TODAY June 7, 2020