Will all the 'good cops' please stand up? Help us end the killing of black men

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

A brush, a wallet, a broom, a toy gun, absolutely nothing … these are all things that dead black men and boys had in their hands when they were “threats” to police officers and ended up dead allegedly because of said perceived threats. We (the people and mostly black ones) have marched, called for body cams, rallied for legislation that clearly does not allow for fatal weapon use just for fleeing, etc. But the only thing that will definitely decrease the numbers of unarmed black men being shot unjustifiably is for the police officers to stop shooting black men in unjustifiable situations.

Having video doesn’t always prevent unjustified homicide, having your back to the person with the gun doesn’t always prevent unjustified homicide, being face-down and handcuffed doesn’t always prevent unjustified homicide, bleeding on the ground from a gun shot wound and a knee on your head (‘F*ck your breath’) doesn’t always prevent unjustified homicide. No amount of being a “good negro” will save you, black man, from being the next rally subject/Twitter hashtag/memorial t-shirt. What does prevent unjustified homicide is not shooting in the first place.

Police officers, stop shooting us.

Stop shooting us.


Where is the outrage from the boys in blue? When these killings become national news (because not all of them make it to that level in this age), there is always a swell of comments and articles about how hard it is to be a cop and how most cops are good people and how difficult it is to make split-second life or death decisions. I agree with all of that, and there have been some retired officers who have expressed solidarity with or at least understanding of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

But where are the active police officers? Where are these good officers of the law who are appalled by their fellow officers’ behavior? The only way to get change is for active police officers to start holding their racist, quick-to-the pull-the-trigger, quick-to-profile counterparts, accountable. Ball’s in your court, Blue Wall. Where’s your outrage?

And I was only talking about fatal encounters here. There is also the mountain of police brutality cases that did not end in a fatality. Abner Louima or Martese Johnson ring a bell?

If every black man or boy looks like an eminent threat to police officers, then every shooting in the hood is justified. But you know what? A boy is a boy, no matter his color. (Hello and good-bye, Tamar Rice.) And not every movement is a threat to life, even if that movement is one of fleeing police custody. Defying a police order to stop does not always equal a threat of bodily harm. Black men are not boogey men. They are people, real people.

Do not shoot black men for sport or because you see them as aggressive black bucks. Do your job as civil servants, police officers. Protect the people, even from those among your rank. Is that so hard to do, dear officers?

Follow Demetria Irwin on Twitter at @Love_Is_Dope and connect with her on Facebook.