Kentucky Student drawing comparing KKK to Police sparks controversy
I find it interesting when people who are not African-American or who are not people of any decent of something other than caucasin white american find controversy in anything that speaks against police or a goverment establishment that has levels of corruption and oppression in its system. Now that was a long sentence expressing my utter confusion when someone gets offended by the image portrayed in this artwork. I am also perturbed that because someone speaks against such injustice or cites examples of poor behavior and judgment in the police force that they are now anti-police.
We have to look at why such a connection can even be made in this artwork. It has been said that the reason why the Klu Klux Klan wore hoods were to conceal their identity, because many of it's members were important officials in government & law enforcement. Not to mention, they were also doctors, lawyers, store owners, and sometimes even pastors and clergy men. Now fast forward to the civil rights movement in the South, when television news finally showed some compelling images of young black people, and children who were peacefully protesting being physically harmed, beaten, chased by german shepard dogs, and sprayed with waterhoses by police officers. Wait did you catch that, police officers were beating, and physically harming peaceful black people who were protesting for their civil rights. These are the same police officers whose job is to serve and protect the people of the neighborhoods, towns and cities these very black people were living in.
Lets look even further ahead to March of 1991. A few members of the Los Angeles Police force were videographed beating down an unarmed black man with their feet, fists and police batons during what was said to be a routine traffic stop. When charges were brought against them, some believe had there not been video evidence of the incident the officers would have never been brought to trail or face any discipline. The aquittal of all officers involved led to what is now known as the "LA Riots". These riots filled media news outlets with so many unbelievable images, many are still just as profound now as they were then.
There are a number of incidents where police have killed innocent black men. And by innocent I mean they were not committing a violent crime, or guilty of anything that would have warranted the use of excessive force or police weaponry.
- 1999 Amadou Diallo shot 41 times by police officer when pulling his wallet out of his pants pocket. (All officers involved were aquitted)
- 2006 Sean Bell shot & killed the night before his wedding by undercover officers. Bell was in the car with two other friends their car was shot at 50 times. (all officers found not guilty)
- 2012 Trayvon Martin killed by neighborhood watch officer. (the watch officer involved George Zimmer was aquitted of all charges)
- 2014 Michael Brown killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. The hashtag term #handsupdontshoot comes from the account that Michael Brown was shot and killed while standing with his hands up surrendering to the officer. (Wilson was not charged)
- 2014 Tamir Rice a 12 yr old boy shot and killed by a Police Officer in a Cleveland, Ohio park where he was outside with a toy gun. (Timothy Loehmann the officer who shot Rice was not charged)
- 2014 Ezell Ford shot and killed by police officers in Los Angeles, California ( officer not charged)
Because I can list so many deaths of black men who were unarmed that were shot and killed by police officers it is very difficult for me to find the artwork above offensive. A great number of those officers were not charged, and still have their jobs. With a reality like that, it is more than easy to compare that to the Klu Klux Klan members who repeatedly killed and lynch unarmed black men without facing any consequences or legal charges. The correlation made in this students art work can be understood when you look at the similarities of all the many incidents that have occurred. If you have never had to experience or deal with police in a negative situation for seemingly no sensible reason or know someone who has dealt with police in similar negative situations then of course you would not be able to empathize in the same manner as someone who has. But does the organization that speaks out against texting and driving, hate all cell phone companies? Does the person that sues a doctor for malpractice for amputating the wrong leg think all doctors are responsible? Does the politician that gets caught stealing money make all politicians theives? Do the Catholic priests that were convicted of sex abuse against children make all Catholic priest molesters?
No matter how prevelant a problem is there are always individuals looking to fix the problem. Some of those individuals may also represent the same identity as those that are causing the problem but it does not mean that they cannot be a part of the solution. If anything it is those individuals that will be needed to make sure that a solution can occur at all.
Being a black male who grew up in the 80's and 90's in Albany, New York I am fully aware there are a lot of outstanding police officers in the world. Some of them are people I went to grade school, and high school with as well people I remember playing basketball with in the neighborhood parks as teen. I have a childhood friend who became a police officer after his brother was murdered. Then on the negative side I have had a number of incidents where I and many of family & friends were harrassed by police without a reason to even have their attention to begin with. However my basketball coach was a police officer and he was white, the DARE officers that would come to the schools, as well as the officers who volunteered for PAL athletics and activities showed me a true example of what a police officer is suppossed to be. With those positives experiences I have a balance of understanding that not all cops are bad or racist.
The art from this student in Kentucky is an alarm for police in that area and throughout this nation to take the time to provide other examples of positive police images in the minds of our youth. This is an opportunity to create dialogue and address the issue so that learning can take place. Police can learn more about why a student would draw that image, and take that opportunity to teach the student a different image. No one should attack this artwork, it sends the wrong message and only makes the drawing more of a reality than not. Art is only a reflection of images that exist in our world that enter our consciousness and reveal itself through our expressions.
For more on this story on the Kentucky Students artwork click the link below: