With only one exception, when it comes to police, the "we serve and protect" has meant nothing more than a motto stenciled on the side of a squad car to me.
Just once, in all my years, did the police come to my rescue. That was nearly 30 years ago when a doped-out burglar was wondering around in my home at the break of dawn. I let the intruder know that I knew he was someplace he had no business and he fled. I dialed 911 and two minutes later, they showed up at my door with the bad guy in hand.
My other experiences were not so reassuring. I was clubbed by the Chicago police during the 1968 Democratic National Convention for doing my job as a Newsweek Magazine intern. I was stopped and frisked by Chicago police as a young teen because I and a couple of my friends were running along the Lakeshore. I am periodically stopped while driving black.
I am not what you'd exactly call a cop lover.
But, when I surfed into an post on the Hinterland Gazette blog that left me shaking my head. The headline says it all:
Dozens March in Protest Organized by Uhuru Movement to Honor Lovelle Mixon who Shot and Killed Four Police
That any organization, black nationalist or whatever else, would try to make a political martyr out of a cold-blooded cop killer is deadly dumb and terminally stupid.
The Hinterland Gazette said as much in its post:
It is unconscionable to me that people could march and rally to honor cop killer Lovelle Mixon, who was shot by Oakland police after he fatally shot four officers last Saturday. What is the message that the organizer, the Uhuru Movement, is sending? That they are condoning the horrific actions of a career criminal. Sorry, but had that been a white man who shot and killed four black cops, they would be throwing the kitchen sink and everything else that they could find. Heck, they might have even ended up in Washington D.C. at the Capitol in protest. How do you honor someone who has deliberately killed four police officers or anyone, for that matter? This sets a terrible precedent in Oakland and around the country. The shootings were by far the deadliest incident for U.S. law enforcement since Sept. 11, 2001, and the deadliest in California in nearly four decades, according to media reports.
"OPD you can't hide - we charge you with genocide," chanted the demonstrators as they marched along MacArthur Boulevard, near the intersection with 74th Avenue where Mixon, 26, a fugitive parolee, gunned down two motorcycle officers who had pulled him over in a traffic stop. He killed two more officers who tried to capture him where he was hiding in his sister's apartment nearby.
The protest was organized by the Oakland branch of the Uhuru Movement, whose flyers for the march declared, "Stop Police Terror." Many marchers wore T-shirts featuring Mixon's photo, including a woman identified by march organizers as Mixon's mother. The woman declined to comment and gave her name only as Athena. Lolo Darnell, one of Mixon's cousins at the demonstration, said, "He needs sympathy too. If he's a criminal, everybody's a criminal." Asked about police allegations that Mixon was suspected in several rapes, including that of a 12-year-old girl, marcher Mandingo Hayes said, "He wasn't a rapist. I don't believe that."
If I try real hard I can almost understand the twisted rationale behind the Uhuru Movement's thinking. Oakland's black community is still outraged from the murder of 22-year-old Oscar Grant who was fatally shot by a transit cop. In one black community after the next, the police represent and act like an occupying army rather than like guardian angels. It's easy to understand the personal and collective resentment that exists from that constant and predictable treatment.
Being rich and famous is no shield from police arrogance as Houston Texans running back Ryan Moats discovered when he was detained and lectured by Robert Powell, a Dallas cop, while his mother-in-law lay dying just steps away in the hospital.
It's the Moats-like incidents that give cover to the anger and resentment that can give rise to the Mixon-like protests. It's unsettling that something as simple as a traffic stop was the beginning that led to both bad endings in the Mixon and Moats stories.
We'd all be better served if the police took care to treat blacks in America not like suspects but like human beings--and if blacks in America took care to remember that murdered cops were human beings too.
Cyber Columnist Monroe Anderson is an award-winning journalist who penned op-ed columns for both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. You can read his blog at http://www.monroeanderson.typepad.com/