What Would Dr. King Say About Police Militarization?
- Category: Justice
- Published: Monday, 01 September 2014 19:20
- Written by John Allen, M.A.
by John Allen, M.A.
Of all the tens of thousands of black police officers in America, you have never seen a news report of a black police officer shooting an unarmed white man, woman, teenager, boy or girl. Why? Because they know white people will not stand for it. Before white people could rise up in arms, his ass would be fired, arrested and charged with murder.
But white police officers kill a young black man every 23 hours. These white killers are seldom disciplined, rarely charged and almost never convicted for the murderous hate they spew out of their guns.
We are familiar with the acronym `WWJD' – what would Jesus do. So, I thought to myself `WWKS' – what
would King say – about all this police militarization that is being unleashed on black people. This includes men, women, boys and girls. And this vitriol abuse includes harassment, brutality, wrongful arrest, concocted convictions and murder.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., addressed this topic in a speech given at Western Michigan University on December 18, 1963, in which he extolled the virtues of being maladjusted.
Dr. King said: "Modern psychology has a word…"maladjusted." Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well-adjusted life in order to avoid neurosis, schizophrenic personalities.
But I say to you my friends there are certain things in our nation and in the world, which I am proud to be maladjusted, and which I hope all men of goodwill will be maladjusted.
I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self-defeating effects of physical violence.
In other words, I'm about convinced now that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment–men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos. Who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, `Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream'."
Afraid for their children, some parents tell their sons and daughters to be aware of the police; and behave in a way that the police won't bother them. When the man says move, you move. When the man says get down on the ground, you get down on the ground. When the man says shut-up, you shut-up. When the man says jump, you ask how high. And for God's sake don't go uptown and enjoy yourself. They don't want you around white folks, so stay in your place and keep out of the man's way.
In reality, they are telling their children to adjust to segregation, to discrimination, to bigotry, to the horrible economic conditions in which they live and to police militarism, which manifests itself in abuse and violence.
Consider the case of Chavis Carter, 21, who died of a gunshot wound to the head in Jonesboro, Arkansas, while handcuffed in the back of a police car. The Police claim that Carter committed suicide by managing to retrieve a hidden gun. They would have us to believe that the right-handed Carter contorted his body in order to place the gun against the left temple of his head. When Carter's body was removed he was still handcuffed with his hands behind his back.
This is the kind of madness for which our children are asked to adjust. Some even pray to God that their children will adjust their behavior to the foolishness of this world. Really, they are begging them to adjust to racism because they don't have the fortitude to stand up against the racists.
But as for me, I stand with Dr. King. We must not teach our children to adjust to this kind of brutality. To the contrary, our children must be taught to be maladjusted to hate and brutality. The burden is on us. We must stand up to the man and let it be known that we will not tolerate abuse visited upon our children nor ourselves.
I hear Claude McKay reciting in my ears:
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!