Pubdate: Thu, 17 June 1999
Source: Daily Times, The (MD)
Copyright: 1999 The Daily Times
Contact:  (410) 749-7290
Author: Jos E Hopwood
Note: Headline by newshawk.

Editor of the Times 

A few years ago a stalled truck at the corner of Mill and W. Main Street
stopped rush hour traffic.  A lone policeman soon appeared intent to
untangle things.  He walked over to the door of the truck said a few words
to the driver of the truck and a few seconds later dragged the driver out
of the cab by his feet.  The driver's head hit the concrete with a thud
that could be heard above the traffic noise.  The truck driver lay the in
the street, bleeding and immobile, with the policeman standing over him
screaming curses as I eased my car by and left the scene.

The truck driver was a black man.  The policeman was white.

When I tried to complain I was laughed at.  I was told that the Salisbury
police don't know that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, that the police
think that black slavery is still the law of the land. "Maybe a hundred
years from now they will catch on." I was advised.

Last week two Salisbury policemen emptied their weapons on two unarmed
young black men who behaved in a way the policemen were unprepared for, so
they tried to kill them.  Luckily the Salisbury "Force" are not "Deadeye
Dicks" and the young men will survive to be tried for something sooner or
later. Has anything changed in 300 years? Ask any African American.

I will not speculate on what might have happened if the two young men had
been white and the policemen black men.  You must ask yourself that.  While
you are asking yourself, think about the other options the police have
other than trying to kill people who might be innocent.

The problem - the Salisbury police have always, since the Civil War at
least, had things their own way in the black community.  The police behave
like an occupying army there because they are an occupying army there.

We, blacks included, have allowed ourselves to be so misled, by the police,
who else, that we have given them powers just short of martial law.  We are
so deluded we still hope that more and more of the same old police
brutality will end drug use.  In the 116 years that the police have been
allowed to force drug prohibition on the people drug use has only increased
exponentially with each new face in the White House.  It is past time to do
a cost benefit ratio study and get rid of laws and policemen that are
counterproductive of a just and democratic society.

The solution - We need a citizen's committee that is representative of the
people to examine complaints against the police.  It must have the power to
rectify police mistakes and enforce its recommendations to that end.  The
"force" of police enforcement of the law must be with the consent and at
the direction of the people as with other government agencies.

The police are the only institution of government not directly authorized
by the Constitution and depend therefore on public acceptance and their own
good faith for their existence.  The Salisbury policemen need the power of
the people behind them if they are to be respected and believed in the future.

Jos E Hopwood

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