By Richard Wembe Johnson, Folsom Prison
As we daily witness police officers from around the country committing undeniable acts of aggression, assault and murder against people of color, it reminds us of the infamous Oakland Riders case where our cops were found guilty of lying, planting evidence, excessive force and other crimes of corruption.
Even though statistically people of color are at the brunt of these overt acts, all people are at risk of being injured or killed at the hands of America’s finest.
We as a society cannot continue to go on in collective denial, as if our eyes and ears are lying to us. We must also look behind the force-fed media messages describing and defending this outbreak of lawless police behavior.
I cite a few examples of police excessive force and killings, which include: the outrageous sheriff beating of a man on horseback in San Bernardino; the murder of the Black man shot 8 times in the back; the Black college student savagely beaten as he tried to get into a late night club; the young Black child killed while holding a toy gun; the Black man shot in Wal-Mart while holding a toy gun from the store’s shelves; Eric Harris, the Black man shot in the back, supposedly accidentally, by a 73-year old volunteer reserve police officer, who in my opinion, is beyond the age to be actively making life or death decisions in split seconds.
With our own eyes and ears we sadly witnessed the Tulsa, OK reserve officer claim he mistakenly grabbed his service revolver instead of his taser after Mr. Harris, the suspect, was already subdued.
The Harris killing is Oscar Grant deja vu.
And just recently, a Hispanic man in Arizona was brutally rundown by a police vehicle. Then, inexplicably, the officer was speedily cleared of any wrongdoing.
As much as some may want to deny or refute the truth of these terrifying acts of police violence, our eyes and ears are observing how some of the police are overtly and covertly punishing the public that they have been sworn to protect.
It is not my intent to inflame the public, but I want to inform the public with the proof of how the inept, racist, homophobic and irresponsible conduct by men in blue is so overwhelming that it’s pointless to detail all of them.
But for those who choose to be in denial, seeking absolute proof, I suggest that you look at all the officers who are under indictment, investigation, and/or in jail or prison for their crimes. It’s depressing that only a few of those charged are convicted.
I mentioned the Oakland Riders case at the beginning of this column because five years before they were actually charged, I said these rogue officers were lying about what actually happened in my own case.
Quite naturally, they circled the wagons and flatly dismissed my claims. Yet, five years later they were forced to revisit them on a much larger scale.
Crime is still crime, regardless of who commits it. Corruption, whether by police or civilians, is criminal. Video cameras and cell phones are now being used to reveal police behavior previously unseen by the public.
This makes it hard to deny some instances of police criminal acts. It’s becoming even harder to say, “we can’t believe our lying eyes,” or that what we hear is unreliable.
We must begin to address the fundamental root causes of this culture of violence. When we remain silent, we enable these acts. At some point the resounding chant of “Black Lives Matter” must be acted upon.
You can reach Mr. Johnson by letter: Richard Johnson K-53293, CSP-SAC c7-106, P.O. Box 290066, Represa, CA, 95671.