Saturday, August 2, 2014

Another Meaning to "I Will Always Get Out of My Car" - Slogan Honors Officer Killed in Line of Duty

A writer writes!

An Indianapolis Police Department officer was killed last month in the line of duty.  Allegedly a family member of the alleged shooter stated that the officer would not have been killed if the police officer had stayed in his police car.  That response prompted a rally cry of "I will always get out of my car" from the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).  That slogan was printed on the back of T shirts initially being sold by the FOP honoring the fallen officer.

It is understandable that police would react in the manner they have.  Plus it is understandable for the public at large to rally around a fallen officer.  The public only sees that someone sworn to protect them was slain for no reason.

The public is missing another meaning to the slogan "I will always get our of my car".  It's a meaning that the public at large would not know about, unless they were past victims of police misconduct. African American/Black men have long been recipients of the "I will always get out of my car" mentality when it comes to police at times harassing Black Men for no reason than because they can.   Whether it's a white police officer stopping a Black man for "DWB" driving while black to an instance where a white police officer gets out of their car to apply a choke hold to an unarmed Black man resulting in the Black man's death.  In the book "An Actor and a Gentleman" by academy award winning actor Lou Gossett, Mr. Gossett recalls the day in 1968 when Los Angeles, California policemen stopped him, and left him handcuffed to a tree for three hours.  His crime was driving a fancy convertible car in  an area where it was not typical to see a Black man driving such a car.

Historically, whether it was the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles by police, or the instance in the 1970s where Indianapolis Police were involved in the "suicide" death of a young Black man while he was handcuffed in the back seat of a police car, white police officers have always taken the opportunity to get out of their car.  All those instances of police getting out of their car did not result in honorable behavior towards Black men.  There were instances where white police officers harassed Black men and sometimes falsely arrested Black men, because they could.

The slogan, "I will always get out of my car" therefore has a different meaning to some.  To some who have been harassed, it means police think they have the right to violate, harass, and demean someone based on their authority.  To some it means police have the right to wrongly profile someone as a criminal because of that policeman's personal views of Black people.  To some it means police have the right to shoot a Black man because the police feels threatened based on their personal fears and thoughts.

Police officers have the right to get out of their car and be respectful in the conduct of their duties. Police do not have the right to harass Black men for the sport of it.

Black people understand that police have the right to get out of their car.  We just want you to pause and understand that some police  have not gotten out of their cars and approached us in a respectful manner when all we were doing is driving our car.  We understand your emotional reaction to the loss of your brother in arms.  We just want you to take time to think about the people you are policing and the experiences they have with the police.  Maybe you should print another edition of your shirts.  "I will Always Get out of My car and Be respectful".

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