The book of life’s ironies now includes a new chapter of police brutality thriving while the nation protests police brutality. And they seem to largely be avoiding any real punishment for the undeniable acts of unjustified violence.
Demonstrators across the country have legally assembled in public following the egregious police killings of Black people that likely would not have happened if they were white.
But video footage of law enforcement’s response to the protests has exposed the protests to almost be a breeding ground for the behavior that people have been demonstrating against.
That was true in Buffalo, New York, where on Wednesday officers shoved a 75-year-old man to the ground after he was simply trying to return a helmet to authorities. The episode was caught on a video that was showed the shove was especially brutal and caused the victim to hit his head on the ground so hard that it bled visibly. While two cops have been suspended without pay, it was important to note that they were not immediately fired despite their response to nonviolence by using force on an elderly man appearing to violate officers’ code of conduct.
The instance in Buffalo might raise concerns of people who thought the police were only targeting Black people with their violence.
But video after video recorded at protest after protest regardless of the location show that police have been equal opportunists with their brutality and dished out violence against people from all backgrounds and ages.
Before the high profile killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Lousiville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, police had been mostly wielding their brutal violence on Black people amid the coronavirus pandemic that was disproportionately affecting their communities.
Cops were regularly being recorded terrorizing Black people for not adhering to social distancing guidelines while photos showed white people guilty of the same thing being carefully attended to by officers. The contrast is undeniable and was documented on newspapers’ front pages across the country.
There was the instance of white militias armed with assault rifles storming the Michigan statehouse and angrily confronting police to demand the lockdown measures be lifted. In that case, media covered heated encounters between the un-masked white protesters yelling in the face of white police officers protecting themselves from the coronavirus.
Somehow, the confrontation was de-escalated and no one was arrested, let alone brutalized by officers being physically threatened by armed men violating the pandemic guidelines of social distancing and wearing personal protective equipment.
The rules change, though, when people are protesting police. While cops for centuries have displayed preferential treatment toward white people, that courtesy does not seem to be extended during the nationwide protests that have seen people from all backgrounds unite against the scourge of police violence.
It’s become a pandemic within a pandemic with both of them disproportionately affecting Black people.
This is America.