OK, I need all police departments, sheriff’s offices, U.S. Marshals services, state police, highway patrols, DEAs, FBIs, boys in blue, men in Black, and Caucasians Oppressing Pigmented Society (COPS) to come to glory on one damn near universal fact:
BLACK PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO SEE BLACK HISTORY MONTH-THEMED POLICE CARS!!
It’s like putting an “I heart Mickey” sticker on a mousetrap. It’s like if “Mind Your Own Business Appreciation Week” was founded by the Kindred Koalition of Karens (KKK). Kt’s like Gov. Ron DeSantis wearing an “I Stay Woke” t-shirt.
But if you’re going to do it—if police departments across the country feel the need to gaslight Black people through a performative display of seasonal solidarity—the very least they can do is be accurate.
It appears that the police department in Columbus, Ohio, has decided to one-up the police department in Miami, Florida, by unveiling its own BHM-themed police cruiser by including a “quote” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And if you’re wondering why I put “quote” in quotes, it’s because the “quote” attributed to MLK doesn’t appear to be a thing he actually said.
Titled “History 1” and hailed by the department as its “newest cruiser to celebrate the achievements of African Americans & recognize their roles in our history,” the patrol car includes the quote, “Be the peace you wish to see in the world,” which is cited as wise words for arguably the most well-known civil rights leader in American history.
Only, MLK most likely never said that.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. frequently spoke about nonviolence and his goal of making a more peaceful and just society and world. But experts told VICE News that they could find no evidence of King ever having said the quote that’s now printed on the window of a cop car.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University compiled a list of quotes spoken by King which reference peace, but the quote Columbus used is not on it. Lerone Martin, the Institute’s director and associate professor of religious studies at Stanford, told VICE News in an email Friday that “we have no record of the maxim” that Columbus put on its police car.
“I haven’t found any traces, and it doesn’t appear in the addresses and writings I know best,” Earl Schwartz, an associate professor of religion at Hamline University who has written on King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” told VICE News in an email.
And Clayborne Carson, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centennial Professor, Emeritus at Stanford and the founding director of the King Institute, told VICE News that it was “obviously impossible to disprove the claim that he once said those words,” but that “the King Papers Project that I directed for more than 3 decades didn’t find evidence that MLKJ ever said this.”
Now, to be fair, Columbus police aren’t the only ones to get this wrong. Even Sen. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where MLK was a pastor, once tweeted the likely false “quote” last October when he was still running for reelection.
And the Good Reads website that features quotes galore from historical figures also credits King with those 10 words.
Still, for cops to make this mistake when they’re already on the wrong side of Black people’s last nerve for parading around these pandering patrol cars in the first place is extra egregious.
I mean, do Columbus police even like Black people?
More From Vice:
More than half of all of the Columbus police department’s recorded use of force incidents between 2017 and 2019 were against Black people, even though Black residents make up only a third of the city’s population, the Columbus Dispatch reported in 2021.
Perhaps for February 2024, Columbus police might unveil a patrol car that features the photos of Ma’Khia Bryant and Miles Jackson and Casey Goodman Jr. and Andre Hill and Donovan Lewis and Sinzai Reed. (Reed wasn’t shot dead by cops like the others, but Columbus police did release the armed white man who shot the 13-year-old dead and then fled the scene because he claimed self-defense and they took the claim at face value.)
But at this point, I’m just waiting for some police force to unveil a car that features that non-existent Harriet Tubman quote often cited by hoteps and quasi-revolutionaries: “I freed a thousand slaves and I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Anyway, happy Black History Month, y’all.
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