Police Mentality by Aminifu R. Harvey, MSW, DSW
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
The Mentality of Abusive and Killer Police
Aminifu R. Harvey, MSW, DSW
Good Day Brothers and Sisters. I thought I might share a few thoughts about the psyche and behaviors of the police who patrol our streets, especially the white police; but also some of our brothers and sisters who choose this profession and get caught up in what sociologist call group think and Frantz Fanon’s concept of identification with the enemy. Now, this does not apply to all the police; but to those who are more likely to denigrate us as a people of color and especially people of African descent; These are the police officers who seem to have an ”abusive and killer mentality.” This work is not meant to be a scholarly researched article but an essay based on my personal and professional experiences and knowledge. What gives me the right/credentials to write about this? Well, I was a parole officer in California, a youth probation officer for the county of Los Angeles, a military police officer in the U.S. Army, and the assistant warden of a stockade in the military. I am a trained psychiatric social worker who had a large private clinical practice in Washington, DC and founded an agency that dealt with families and youths, mostly youths who were on probation or were at-risk. I trained youth probation officers in an effective approach to working with youths. Also I grew up in a large urban African American environment. A city with few African American police officers, most of the police were white.
Beginning around 1968, I spent some years in Los Angeles, California, after serving in the Army. At this time the chief of police in L.A. was a Caucasian named Chief Parker. He sought and recruited ex-military men from the south to join the L. A. police department. Men from states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.
One day as I was driving my Ford Mustang convertible with my big apple hat on, the police stopped me and gave the standard request for license and registration and, just as today, initially they did not tell me the reason for the stop. As early as that time, the L.A. police department had computers in their vehicles. The officer went back to his vehicle ran a check on me and told me, “Don’t worry you won’t be stopped again because you are now in our system.” He never told me the reason for the stop nor gave me a ticket.
Let me describe another incident which clearly demonstrates the attitude of L. A. police at this time. I was a state parole agent and carried a badge. I went into the records room of the L.A. police department, where only law enforcement personnel were allowed, and saw a white police officer I had gone through military police training with; I approached him and greeted him. His reply was “Have I arrested you?” That gives you an idea of their mentality.
I had another rather scary incident in L.A. I was living in a predominately African American section of L. A. I was walking home one night and a police cruiser pulls into a driveway and blocks my path. Two policemen get out of the cruiser and each one points his 357 Magnum at one of my temples. I then asked if I could show ID, and at that time I carried my parole agent badge inside my wallet facing my driver’s license. After seeing my badge, they then holstered their weapons. I asked why they stopped me, and they said there had just been a robbery and the person fit my description. My spirit told me that if I had not shown my badge that night I would not be alive to write this today.
I have been stopped many times by the police. I was leaving Washington National Airport after having picked up my girlfriend’s mother and her mother’s two friends. They were all in their 60’s at the time. I was driving a relatively new Volvo. Before I could exit the airport I was pulled over by a policeman. As usual, he asked for my driver’s license and registration. He did not ticket me and never told me the reason for stopping me. I know he could not think I was a pimp with his whores in tow, not as old as these women were; perhaps he was jealous of the car. Another time my cousin was driving my Volvo. We were coming back to his house in Willingboro, New Jersey, after having an early New Year’s Eve dinner. My cousin and his wife were in the front seats and my girlfriend and I were in the back. Once again, it was the standard routine traffic-stop. I then said, without the cop asking, that the vehicle was mine. He gave us back the credentials and let us go without an explanation. What is this harassment about? Tell me.
My father had just passed and I was driving at night from Ocala, Florida, to Orlando airport to pick up my two children. I am driving through small rural towns. This policeman pulls me over, asks for my ID, and says I was speeding. I told him he must be mistaken as a car had just passed me. He then tells me to go on, no ticket. My other incident was going from Washington, DC, to Durham, North Carolina. At the time I probably had just turned 60. I was driving my relatively new Jaguar, and I was driving the speed limit with the brim of my hat on backwards. Once again I was pulled over with no explanation and no ticket. All the above encounters were with white policemen.
Another encounter was when I am helping a woman friend move from her girlfriend’s house where she had been living for approximately 6 months. We were moving relatively small items such as clothes. The neighborhood was racially mixed. Two black policemen stop us, search us, and then say someone reported us as robbing the house. After my friend showed proof, they let us go.
Why do I cite these police encounters? Because it does not matter who you are—if you are a Black man or, many times, a Black woman–police will harass you. Remember Skip Gates. I am an all-American male by Eurocentric standards: A doctoral degree, a retired college professor, academically recognized nationally and internationally. Earlier in my life I was an academic athlete, college degree, Master’s degree. I had been a boy scout and an officer in the U.S. Army.
Black people and especially Black men get harassed by the police no matter who we are or where we are. There are very few of us who have not had this experience.
“The killer policeman,” I say mainly because I will focus on the male policeman. I am not giving this profile to all police persons but to those who kill and/or abuse (physically and psychologically) the rights of Black people, especially males (Rodney King, Eric Garner, Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Kenneth Chamberlain, and most recently the brother in Dallas and the brother in Baton Rouge. Check out: http//gawker.com/unarmed-people-of-color-killed-by-police. I believe that these officers are both mad and scared of Black people, especially Black males. Mad because, like many Caucasian persons, they believe that American belongs to and is exclusively for them and that people of color are interlopers. Mad because they see Caucasian women with black men (even on commercials). They believe that black men have taken their jobs (but are not qualified, they are just given these positions through affirmative action). Afraid because they believe and perpetuate the myths about Black people in general and Black males in particular. From a psycho dynamic theoretical perspective they have penis envy. They view Black men as sexual objects (they objectify them), as having powerful penises more powerful than their own (The Sexual Savage). These policemen are afraid of the Big Powerful Buck who they do not believe they can beat in a physical one-on-one encounter. They also do not see us as truly human. We are only ¾ human and “things” at that. So it is ok to destroy us as one would a piece of trash. They see us as their enemy.
There is a history to his story; the history is based upon the oppression of Black African people. It is a history to justify slavery, oppression, and exploitation of Africans by Europeans. It is the confrontation of two very different cultures: One based on spirituality, humanism, and respect and the other one based on materialism, control of others, and domination by social position. You guess which is which. In order to justify the inhumane treatment of Africans, western science and religion had to portray us as savages with no culture, an immature people who needed to be governed and trained as one would do to a wild animal. You know the story. The myth had the King Kong undertones, big Black animal like phenomena with huge reproductive organs who only wanted to ravage their white women.
The perpetuated myth is that Black people are lazy with the women wanting to only have children to receive “welfare” so the men can live off their checks and have sex. Then there is the myth of the angry Black man (any black person in American who is not angry has some mental health problems) who hates all white people and is uncontrollably violent and destructive. Oh, yes, of course we are slow learners and unable to abstract and are all pimps, drug addicts, and thieves. Of course there are a few exceptions, “You are not like the rest of them.” It seems to me that the fear that some white people have is that Black people will seek revenge and do to them what they have done historically, and in many cases still, to us. In mental health vernacular this is called projection.
For many of these abusive/killer mentality types it is the uniform that props up their manhood. Without this symbol of power and authority their lives would be mundane. (I remember the aforementioned policeman that went through military police training with me. He was just an average Joe from some hippy middle class family.) It is the uniform that masks their feelings of inadequacy, low self-concept, and low self-esteem. These abusive/killer types believe the myths about Black men and see their manhood threatened when they encounter a Black male. We are King Kong with super strength and a huge penis. Thus, “I will show you who the man is. I will dominate you with my huge, bigger, and more powerful than yours penis, MY Gun!” bang bang.
This is the old slave syndrome of master-slave. I must intimidate and dominate you at all costs or you will rebel just as Frederick Douglas did and “kick my ass and take my white woman.” This is the confrontation of two different cultures: one says we are all human beings thus you need to treat me with respect, the other says no, you do what I say based upon my position (the uniform) and it does not matter how I say it or what I tell you to do. Then the other culture says “If you did not have that gun, I would kick your ass, so kiss mine.” This reminds me of the time when I was a young man standing one Sunday in front of a local bar that was historically a gathering place for local adult Black males. Two young rookie cops walked past us and said, “We want this space when we return so you better be gone.” We all laughed and did not move. There were more of us than them, and we were probably better able to take care of ourselves and were not hardly afraid of them. As they came back they just kept walking.
Just as science, religion, and institutions of authority supported the enslavement of kidnapped Africans (in 1851, American psychiatrist Samuel A. Cartwright conjured a mental illness he called drapetomania that caused kidnapped Africans to escape slavery and the treatment was to be wiped with a cat of nine tail), the courts, the Fraternal Order of Police. Most DA’s and juries support the unjustified physical abuse and killing of Black men and women even when the evidence (videos) support the criminality of the police. Thus, the abusive/killer mentality says it is ok to physically abuse and kill Black people because there are no serious repercussions. This latter behavior reinforces the right of white policemen to abuse and or kill Black people. The reality is that the blame for the recent killing of the police in Dallas and Baton Rouge is all those entities I just mentioned and their refusal to see justice done, thus the taking of justice into one’s own hands. When videos clearly show the assassination of Blacks by these Gestapo-like police and they are not indicted (the only one I am aware of is Michael Slager), then clearly this behavior will generate reactionary behavior. You, the latter mentioned institutions, are guilty !!!!!
My professional assessment is that these police are delusional, have a phobia of Black people, and are a threat to American society. They most definitely are a danger to someone else. Thus, they should be placed into a mental health facility for a 72-hour psychiatric observation assessment. When you are told to reach for your identification and then shot and killed in front of witnesses and when I am laying outstretched on the ground with my hands in the air and say don’t shoot and you shoot me anyway in the leg after firing three shots, and then I ask you why did you shoot me and you say you don’t know, such persons surely should not be on the police force in any community. You most definitely need the 72-hour psychiatric assessment.
Well one could write volumes on this matter, but in summary let me say all of America should be outraged at such Nazi-like inhumane behavior. White Americans, if you think this is just a Black problem then think again. Hundreds of Americans are killed every month by police regardless of race or ethnicity. Check out this website: http://killedbypolice. If those statistics don’t move you to action, then check out this website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com2015/05/29/police-misconduct-settlement_n_7423386.html. The site describes the amount of money various cities pay out for the misconduct of police officers: Boston $35 million between 2005 and 2015, Chicago $521 million between 2004 and 2014, Cleveland $8.2 million between 2004 and 2014, and Dallas $6.6 million between 2011 and 2014. These are just some examples of money that should be used for recreational services for youths, services for senior citizens, etc. This is misconduct. It demonstrates the systemic, negative, power oppressive philosophy of the American police institution. The citizens of America need to file lawsuits against these cities’ administrations for allowing these police to stay on the force causing misuse of American citizens’ money paid through taxes and other legitimate means. What ever happened to protect and serve? Come on folks. Every police person on the force knows the cops who demonstrate this oppressive and violent behavior, step up. Step up, the National Police Association, and shame on you, Fraternal Order of Police, for being a co-conspirator. Every Church, Synagogue, Temple, Mosque, and any other house of worship in America must preach against such immoral and ungodly like behavior at every worship service until the tide has changed.
The Justice Department needs to fund the development of a comprehensive racial screening test, mandatory for all police departments to implement. This should be developed by an African American group of mental health clinicians.
Additionally, no police person who has been released by one police jurisdiction for misconduct can be hired by another jurisdiction without the approval of the Justice Department.
Praise you Black Lives Matter for your continued demonstration to keep the paid assassination of Black people in the face of America. I hope that the demonstrations are geared to specific outcomes, such as meeting with legislative bodies to put in place specific policies. I hope that celebrities like Beyoncé and the four basketball players who spoke out at the ESPYS (Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James) and other celebrities who speak out against police brutality have spoken truth for justice put their money where their mouths are so Black Lives Matter can establish a formal institution with the purpose of monitoring police behavior, advocating for justice policies, and training community organizers to go into communities–especially African American ones—to advocate for themselves to assist them in building strong businesses and institutions.
Lastly, Black Lives Matter encourages Black people to vote and to run persons for office who are from their communities and have their best interests at heart, not just on the national level but on the local level. It is on the local, county and state level that we are most affected. Where does our tax money go? Sheriffs are elected to office.
Peace, justice, and equal distribution of resources, my Brothers and Sisters.
Pray that my life and all other lives are safe from attack and we are not harassed by police.