Recently I listened to eulogies delivered at the funeral for Tyre Nicols, who was recently murdered by five police officers, members of an elite police squad called Scorpion in Memphis, Tennessee. It is important to note that the officers were Black as well as the victim. By listening we learn!
I have listened to police commissioners and police chiefs in Canada and the United States talk about the need for public safety and the “lived” experience of police officers.
I have listened to the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris, who asked at Mr. Nicols’ funeral, “Did he have no right to public safety?” As a member of the Black community, did he have no “lived” experience? Profound, all encompassing questions!
Reverend Al Sharpton, who addressed the congregation the day of the funeral, recalled his days of activism from the time of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to the present. Sharpton spoke about the struggle of the Black community for acceptance into better paying work, including the police force. How now he felt ashamed that it was five Black officers, among others, who will be indicted for the brutal slaying of the victim. What humility!
The attorney for Tyre Nicols’ family approached the issue of “colour” from a different perspective. He said it was the colour of the victim that is important, describing it as blue violence by the police, on a Black victim. It isn’t a matter of a “few bad apples” in policing; it is the culture deeply rooted that allows and permits such behaviour to exist and flourish.
When crime goes down, police ask for more resources. When crime goes up, police ask for more resources. And the sad thing is police budgets keep increasing. Sad for them, and sad for everyone.
It is time to listen!