Posted by: morgan1965 | August 27, 2015

Contempt of Cop Syndrome

In my last blog posting (August 17, 2015), I asked this question: “How long will America continue to inflict violence on African Americans?” This is a perplexing question, in part, because there is no substantive response or answer on the horizon. We struggle with violence in its many manifestations in our nation and in our world. In the meantime, let’s take a look at one blatant form of violence against African Americans.

Currently, there is considerable conversation in the media and in personal conversations about certain violence that has been inflicted on black people, especially unarmed black males. Let’s consider a few observations about police violence against black people.

First, there seems to be a “fear” factor [fear of black males] that prevails among some white police officers. Fear is an emotion that unchecked can cause an individual to be unpredictable in the face of apparent or perceived danger. Various scenarios have been painted in the aftermath of some deadly encounters that black males have had with the police. Consider just a few: he appeared to be holding a gun; he made a threatening move; he did not follow orders. Black males should not be feared any more or less than white males. When is it proper for a police officer to use deadly force?

Second, one veteran police chief has offered a provocative term, “contempt of cop.” This term provides some insight into the nature of certain encounters between the police and black people, both male and female. From the inception of slavery in America, the white power structure has always sought to control black people. In part, control means that one must obey the rules without failure. It also means that one must comply with orders immediately, without hesitation. Hesitation or failure to comply with orders and rules is construed as an act of defiance, disobedience and contempt. Such a response is often charged as resisting arrest by the police.

Consider the case of Sandra Bland who was stopped by a Texas police officer for failing to signal while changing lanes. In the ensuing encounter with the police officer, she allegedly declined to put out her cigarette when asked to do so by the police officer. She also did not readily get out of her car when directed to do so by the officer. This refusal led to an altercation and her arrest. That incident illustrates the concept, “contempt of cop.” Her failure to extinguish her cigarette was not an illegal act, but it was a “contempt of cop” act. Instead of complying with the request immediately, she argued with the police officer.

Third, I have the impression that a significant number of police encounters with black people that end with a death at the hands of the police generally involve white police officers. There are, of course, exceptions to this generalization. Is there a difference here; if so, why?

To be sure, all forms of violence must be addressed in meaningful ways. The community must work with the police and the police must work with the community in a mutual effort to eliminate police violence against all citizens..

Think about it!



  1. well said!

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