President Barack Obama’s “beer summit” with James Crowley and Henry Louis Gates brought a rare opportunity for the nation to focus on the relationship between the police and the Black community. Still, most Black victims of the police are not Harvard professors with connections to the White House. Often times tensions with the police and innocent African Americans do not result in disorderly conduct arrests, but in injury, embarrassment or death. So, if Obama really wants to address the relationship between the Black community and the police, here are five more people he should bring to the White House for a beer.
1. Rodney King
Rodney King became the face of police brutality during the early nineties and was the symbolic figurehead of the 92 riots in Los Angeles after he was beaten by police in L.A.. By bringing him to the White House, the President can showcase the negative, longstanding effects that police beatings can have on people and help give the nation an understanding of the still present tensions that led to Rodney King’s beating and the riots that followed.
Nicole Bell had her fiancée and the father of her children, Sean Bell, killed the night before her wedding day in 2006 in Queens, New York. Police open fired on his vehicle, under the wrong assumption that someone in his car had a gun. Bringing her to the White House would show the country what happens to families when police go too far and show that the government feels some compassion to families who have lost loved ones due to police brutality.
In 1998, Danny Reyes and four friends were traveling to a basketball camp in North Carolina from New York, when police pulled them over on the New Jersey turnpike. Reyes accidentally put the car in reverse and the police open fired on the vehicle, shooting Reyes six times and ending his chances of playing basketball on a higher level. Despite the fact the officers were acquitted of all charges, the case brought forth an investigation into racial profiling on U.S. highways. Meeting with Reyes would show the country the devastating consequences that happen to innocent people, when racial profiling and trigger-happy police are combined.
4. Malika Calhoun
Malika Calhoun was arrested for joy riding in her mother’s car in Seattle when she was 15. Once in a cell, she was viciously beaten by police officers. Having her at the White House would show that police brutality does not just affect men, but women and children as well, and highlight the need to teach police officers restraint.
Wanda Johnson’s son, Oscar Grant, was shot in the back, while lying on the floor at a train station by a transit cop in Oakland. The officer who killed him claimed he thought he was using a taser. Meeting with his mother would help remind the country that the U.S. does not support police brutality, but that it does support the victims of it. It would also show that the President understands the frustrations that resulted in the riots and protests that unfolded after Oscar Grant’s killing.