I was listening to NPR’s Talk of The Nationwhile getting ready for work. They devoted about 1/2 of their show to reactions of the Sean Bell verdict in New York City. You can listen online here. I had no plans to write anything about it because I knew that the officers would be aquitted but these were two balanced, intelligent discussions from both sides that really highlighted how differently police and their supporters and those of us in black communities around the country see the same situation.
The first person to be interviewed was Kyle Murphy, a retired NYPD lieutenent who wrote a NY Times op-ed piece, “The Fear Behind The Badge”. His position in both the article and the interview (paraphrased by me but you can draw your own conclusions) was that the police made a tragic mistake but the people should understand black men have to die because they are scared.
The counter argument was presented by Kai Wright who wrote another op-ed piece, this one at online magazine TheRoot.com, (I couldn’t find it on their site so here’s a link to it on Kai Wright’s own). His question which sums it all up for me is basically this: Why are the police always so scared if it’s the black men who are dying?
I could go into detail about my own paralyzing fear of the police and the arrogant, arbitrary way I believe they enforce the law but I would much rather read your comments. Do you have a story about police overstepping their bounds? Do you believe the officers in the Sean Bell case acted correctly? What are some of your concerns, if any, with the belief in officers’ unquestionable authority?